Cardiff City 4 - 1 Leyton Orient. Match Report

Last updated : 13 August 2003 By NigelBlues.

It was, however, a curious game. The first half was dreadful until the last 5 minutes, City's spectacular goals, two goal in one minute during each half, produced a comfortable victory but they were just about City's only meaningful efforts of the evening. The final score undoubtedly flattered City as the Third Division visitors worked tremendously hard, caused problems all night but lacked any cutting edge quality. In fact, their shot tally could have run into three figures but efforts on goal were a single figure.

The League Cup has been sponsored for almost as long as City flapped around Divisions Two and Three. Shops used to sponsor but as Rumbleow’s (remember them?) and Littlewoods have disappeared from the High Street, it hardly helped their image. Nowadays, it must be handed out as a Drinks Conference raffle prize. How else can you explain The Milk Cup, The Coca-Cola Cup, The Worthington Cup and, this season, The Carling Cup? Not that any would be supped from a cup. Never mind, it presents an opportunity for Cardiff and Leyton Orient to advance to the Millennium Stadium and into Europe – yeah, right.

Leyton Orient were bad last season, just 5 points and 5 places from Conference demotion, and started badly this time - at least they’re consistent. Losing 3-1 at home to returning league boys, Doncaster Rovers, was bad and demoralising but even worse, Leo Fortune-West scored two of them!

Their players seem unhappy, their fans are certainly unhappy, directors (including snooker player Steve Davis, he loses all the time too) are unhappy while their owner, Barry Hearn of snooker/boxing promotion fame, always seems unhappy. Sounds just like what we've been used to over the years.…

Their team, in keeping their status, are the usual blend of kids and journeymen with no real stand-out names. Best known to us was Matt Brazier, once hailed at Cardiff as the “People’s Signing” following a stunning loan spell, but his great talent and promise went
awry to the extent that most people were eventually glad to see him go. Their task was hard enough but with several missing with injury, local bookies offered 9/1 for them to triumph. Brazier, unbelievably, played in central midfield.

Cardiff’s fans have often decried higher division opponents who rest key players and their fans for not supporting these matches. Now, just three days into First Division life, we appreciate why Lennie rests half the team and understand why the crowd was just 4,503 and why 105 visiting Londoners could outsing us (east when they're the only ones who sang at all). It's only to be expected against “Third Division rubbish”, isn’t it? That’s me being ironic before anyone has a pop but how times change.

Cardiff, as promised, made 5 changes to the starting line up to gain that creditable point at Rotherham by resting Neil Alexander, Kav, Boland plus John Robinson and replacing the injured Rhys Weston and in came all of the weekend substitutes. Margetson was in goal, Vidmar at right back, with James Collins and Gabbidon as the centre half pairing and Barker left, midfield were Bowen, Whalley (now fit again), Layton Maxwell and Bonner with Campbell and Earnie as the forwards. Earnie was Captain for the night.

On a humid, sticky evening but with temperatures back to normal after the recent extreme heat and on a perfect pitch with its newly laid playing surface, City kicked-off towards the Canton Stand for their first home competitive action of 2003/2004 but struggled badly to establish themselves.

They played like an away side for way too long. Midfield were deep, Maxwell the attacking midfielder parked (Kav-like) in front of defence, Campbell and Earnie were isolated apart from intermittent Whalley support and left to feed on poor scraps from rare forward balls, usually knocked too high or too hard over the top.

The O's gained confidence, took the game to City, passed well and nearly scored twice in the opening half-hour. Firstly as Layton Maxwell cleared a Miller header from a corner off the line and then, after Vidmar was caught out and exposed on the right, a low cross appeared to be totally misfired straight at Margetson from 6 yards with the goal gaping and Cardiff just survived the following scramble.

Apart from an early Mark Bonner effort which safely flew over, City's sole meaningful response in the opening 39 minutes was an Andy Campbell shot from a City break immediately following Maxwell's off the line clearance. The most rousing moment was a crunching James Collins tackle which his opponent is probably still rubbing better.

But, just as we've been used to raising our standards and performing well against higher divisions doing little only to see them take the game with moments of magic or raising their game for a short spell, the boot is now on the other foot.

39 minutes, EARNIE has the ball wide left and 25 yards out, moves inside, passes to Whalley who switches back to him now on the left. In a near carbon copy of an excellent pre-season goal at Cheltenham, Earnie looks up, cuts insides and unleashes a shot nobody expected from 20 yards which flew high across Harrison and into his opposite corner despite him getting a glove to the ball. Absolute class, an individual goal from nothing, the crowd loved it and so did Earnie as he somersaulted then danced over an imaginary skipping rope being swung by James Collins and Gabbi.

And then, unbelievably, within no more than 6 or 7 seconds of playing time after the restart, it was 2-0 and effectively game over. As Orient kicked-off, Mark Bonner immediately won the ball, strode forward and passed to Earnie although Campbell was also available. In almost the same identical 20 yard left side to where he scored his first, EARNIE hit an instinctive chip which sailed over Harrison and ended up in the self same spot.

And then to complete a miserable 3 minute spell for Orient after things had gone so well for them, Harrison, the keeper, took a knock at a corner and was stretchered off to be replaced by Glen Morris, a youngster.

An incredible finish to the opening period considering the relative dross beforehand. It only left time for Orient's Captain, Matt Lockwood, to get stick from the Bob Bank while waiting for the game to restart about his hairstyle and looks as well as some football banter including a gem, "Oi Lockwood, your team are so crap that Kevin Nugent even left you to play for the sh*tty Jacks instead".

Half-time: CITY 2 ORIENT 0

Half-time entertainment, if you can call it that, was the news that Red Dragon Radio are running the tannoy system this season. Darren Daley, one of their presenters, tried the let's make some noise and had little response, partly because the tannoy is so pants that it sounded like he was speaking underwater nut also because it was Darren Daley from Red Dragon thinking he was broadcasting to his usual audience and not a football crowd. He also blared out a boxing style, "it's showtime". The music is all the happy clappy crappy boy/girl band stuff loved by schoolkids and those lacking brain cells. Please come back AlI. Those opening 39 minutes suddenly didn't seem so bad at all by comparison.

The opening phase of the 2nd period was still about Orient attacking, City's defence struggling - Vidmar and Gabbidon unusually being caught and looking vulnerable - but James Collins making a very strong impression. Scrambles, efforts high, wide and mighty continued to be the theme - Orient's shooting was so awful that I bet they drink Carling Black Label!

For once, it must have been better than the John Smith's though as the tannoy apologised to the Grange End for the beer being so warm as their coolers had failed. This on a night when the John Smith's retractable players tunnel was unveiled.

Then, on 55 minutes, Orient were stunned by another double blast. The first saw Chris Barker, definitely pushing on more this season, cleverly flick on a Gabbidon free-kick which Andy Campbell, suddenly awaking after complete previous inactivity all match, chased into the corner, turned and crossed low. EARNIE was first to react, as the ball came behind him but he held the ball, spun and fired a low shot to the near post which bounced off the ground past the helpless replacement keeper.

It was the 2nd successive season that Earnshaw scored a hat-trick in the first round of this competition. He also won Man of the Match for finishing way above the quality of the game. I hope, for his sake, that his award wasn't a crate or 4-pack of Carling!

From the restart, City quickly won the ball and fed Andy Campbell 45 yards out. For the first time all evening, CAMPBELL decided to run at defenders, skipped past one ineffectual challenge, rode another when he could have gone down and from the edge of the area, hit a
stunning finish which beat the keeper in the air, hit the underside of the bar, bounced off the line and in.

And once that happened, it was back to more Orient play and efforts at goal with their shoot on sight policy. Again, there were scrambles, missed efforts, the odd save - enough to encourage the visiting fans to sing, "we're going to win 5-4" and "are you Newport is disguise?" as we basked and watched what looked like a reserve or training match. The most exciting City moment, other than the goals, was when a 12 yr old kid cushioned the perfect header to Gareth Whalley as a ball was smacked out of play.

Just as you thought Orient would not get a well deserved consolation for their battling efforts, one duly arrived on 75 minutes from another scramble. A corner fell in City's 6 yard box, a hooked effort came off the bar and IBEHRE, a 2nd half sub, turned the ball home from all of 2 yards. The Orient fans celebrated as if they had won the Cup itself, City fans cheered and applauded the goal for them too.

And they nearly got two in a minute themselves as another scramble and mishit Hunt shot was turned home by Danny Gabbidon for what would have been an embarrassing own goal but he was saved his blushes as a linesman ruled offside or a foul or something.

The closing minutes were tedious, Earnie went off to a deserved personal ovation and promising youngster, Stuart Fleetwood, took his place and while he didn't get the break and was a little greedy, his pace was fantastic. He can do really well for City.

Gabbidon took over as Captain as Layton Maxwell got booked for a slightly late challenge then made us laugh as his 30 yard volley in the centre of the pitch went for a throw in. Doh! And, of course, Orient had more shots that were high, wide and horrible and a scramble or two.

Overall, a satisfactory night with some superb goals. A good work out, an effective show but certainly not the most impressive performance.

The defence collectively did not perform well enough and have to perform infinitely better in Division One but James Collins was the pick and must be in with a shout for the Bradford game.

Midfield had a different combination but not dissimilar result as they lacked creativity and penetration but all did ok, Jason Bowen was unlucky but Gareth Whalley played well and must have put himself in contention too. Meantime, and it sounds churlish given their four superb individual strikes, but Earnie and Campbell just do not click as a pair. Like our midfield, we really need something different and quickly.

External reports
Western Mail