CARDIFF CITY (2) 4
Purse (pen) 10, Parry 31, Chopra 58 & 77
LUTON TOWN (1) 1
THE DECLARED ATTENDANCE:
THE AWAY SUPPORT:
200, maybe 250
Glorious September day, warm and sunny, City were basking.
THE ‘You're The Man' AWARD to:
The model on Sloper Road in tight short skirt often a top that spent more time around her waist. The walk up Sloper Road has rarely been as enjoyable, she had a great two up front!
Football-wise, Glenn Loovens gave a masterful powerhouse defensive performance, he looks bigger and stronger again. It was Chopra, Parry and Alexander who provided the outstanding moments but, once more, it was about a fantastic all round-team effort.
THE “You're Not Very Good” BOOT goes to:
Ali on the tannoy. OK, a dedicated City fan is leaving for Spain but why torment us with an extended version of Max Bygraves singing Y Viva Espana at half-time? Shocking! :>)
Electric, spine-tingling at time and it's fantastic when all sides of the ground sing together as we did many times today. Inspiring to City, intimidating to visitors, I love it!
CHANT of the DAY:
Not the most inspirational singing day.
WE ARE TOP OF THE LEAGUE SAID WE ARE TOP OF THE LEAGUE. I still enjoy singing that. CHEERIO, CHEERIO, CHEERIO How can you ever get bored of a chant like that? Sing it loud, sing it proud over the next fortnight.
You know footballers are getting younger and younger when Joe Jacobsen tells the programme that Scott Allison has the worst music taste at the club because he likes rock music. Oh the shame of it.
CARDIFF- After a faultless start to the season, it's been an awkward three weeks since City pulverised Birmingham in front of a Ninian Park full house to top the league at this level for the first time in 35 years winning Dave Jones the often cursed Manager of the Month award.
Once more, it proved to be a poisoned chalice as, since, it has been a tale of no August transfer window signings, the media overplaying words by Dave Jones into a public squabble between club and country as Joe Ledley played a Wales friendly whilst injured. Then our first league defeat as we fell at Preston with Glen Loovens sent off in 10 minutes, an FAW appeal failed again, whilst Kerrea Gilbert. That was trumped by a spectacular midweek Plymouth capitulation as City incredibly went from 3-0 ahead and cruising away to 3-3 in the final 20 minutes with two own goals. Yet, we were back home still clear in second, averaging 2 points a game over 7 games, a dream start.
Dave Jones is no man to panic but with our small squad, he's hardly blessed with options either. The only pre-game debate was which two of Loovens, Purse and Johnson would play central defence with Purse getting brick bats from sections of our support. But it was predictable that Loovens - the pick of the trio this season - would return from suspension alongside Purse, Jones' Captain and on-pitch leader, Johnson, the least experienced, will get his chance again.
So it was Alexander, Gilbert-Purse-Loovens-McNaughton, Parry-Svimeca-McPhail-Ledley, Thompson and Chopra. The bench, again with no goalkeeper, has Johnson sitting with Campbell, Flood, Glombard and Kamara.
LUTON- Mike Newell is performing an admirable job at a club whose home makes Ninian Park look state-of-the-art with average crowds of 8,000. They came to South Wales, like last season, on the verge of the play-offs in 7th with a solid start with home wins over Leicester and Crystal Palace, an away three points at Sheffield Wednesday, a couple of draws including midweek at home to Colchester and the narrowest of defeats to Wolves and Norwich. They are a City hoodoo team. Until today, it was 26 years since we had triumphed over The Hatters, the last 10 clashes producing three draws an 7 defeats including victory at Ninian last season but a thrilling 3-3 draw at Kenilworth Road thanks to a Jason Koumas Valentine's Night fightback after City looked down and out. .
He had injuries including former City "sick note" Russell Perrett but lined up with Beresford, Foley-Heikkinen-Barnett-Davis, Emanuel-Robinson-Langley- Edwards, Vine-Parkin.
Marlon Beresford, now 37, is a very able keeper, defence featured three home-grown players and a Finn. Midfield was more familiar to us with Richard Langley, a player who never consistently shows his undoubted talent at City or anywhere else and still with that silly hair-don't. With him (briefly!) was Lewis Emanuel not enjoying his return to a ground where he scored a 35 yard screamer for Bradford a couple of years ago and Carlos Edwards - a T&T World Cup star who always performs well against us - and Captain Steve Robinson. Forwards were the tricky Rowan Vine alongside the bulk of Steve Parkin. Parkin replaced the bulk of Steve Howard, now at Derby after being linked with City over the summer.
WE are Top of the League, AGAIN!, we are top of the league. Cardiff emphatically took apart Luton 4-1 thanks to goals from Purse (a penalty), Parry (a beauty) and Chopra (stylish predatory finishing) with a solitary reply from the industrious Vine sandwiched in-between.
The Hatters had to play with 10 men for 80 minutes and City took full advantage despite giving the impression of rarely slipping into top gear. But we're back in top spot, on goal difference, as Birmingham needed a late equaliser for a home point against Ipswich.
There was a miserable away following - little more than 200 is pathetic - a few gaps in stands and the Bob Bank terrace was not a scrammed but the official crowd being just 14,108 was a surprise home but all - except 200! - loved it and went home very happy again.
City, attacking the Canton Stand first half, opened quietly but it came to life with a decisive moment before 10 minutes had elapsed as we won our first corner. Paul Parry sent it over, Luton were absolute statues, and Riccy Scimeca ran across the area left alone to meet the ball on 6 yards and power a header at goal. Lewis Emanuel, on the line, reacted with a reflex effort but clearly hit the ball away off his arm. The ref seemed to miss it, the linesman thankfully didn't.
We know how harsh things moments can be after losing Glenn Loovens inside 10 minutes last week but these things always tend to even out so Emanuel had a red card, City had a penalty. Emanuel laughably acted out the incident to Newell walking off suggesting the ball hit his chest as 14,000 waved cheerio and DARREN PURSE, a man under pressure, wanted the responsibility of taking it. He showed true leadership by sending it left into the bottom corner whilst Beresford (Alexander-like) went the other way. We knew at that point that we only needed three more goals to win and be safe!
Almost from the restart, Luton tried to hit back. Skipper Robinson was tricky, beat Gilbert and was then upended by Purse within inches of our box, Pursey getting a yellow card. The free-kick came to nothing. Vine had a silly yellow card, clearly frustrated and there was more frustration as Robinson seemed to be arguing with his manager to change things. He did on 20 minutes, taking off Sol Davis for Chris Coyne and going 3-4-2 but City were now rampant and should have scored more before Paul Parry hit the second on half-half.
Chopra made Beresford save, Scimeca tested him with a long-range effort and Thompson put wide before two wasteful misses as McNaughton charged 80 yards down the left and quick passes set McPhail free on goal but he got the ball on his left foot when he shot have straight right and hit Beresford. More fantastic interplay on the left saw McPhail hit a cross shot that Chopra anticipated but hit an ugly shot over when half the goal was available to him.
The second goal was a thing of beauty. The move again down the left with Scimeca, Ledley and McNaughton involved finding Chopra who placed the ball into PAUL PARRY's path. His finish was truly outstanding, a first time hit from just inside the area on the left which was precision itself as he swung it around Beresford into the opposite bottom corner. That was fantastic and just reward for Parry's first half contribution, as not for the first time this season, he beat his marker time and again. I hold up my hands, when rumours circulated of Yeovil wanting to pay £40,000 for him this summer, it seemed like good business. But he has rediscovered the form he showed when he first came to City, is so exciting to watch, and is one of the key players of the side. I salute you Paul Parry.
Before the interval, there were more efforts at goal from Thompson, Scimeca (shot and header) and Loovens accompanied by some passionate singing, a phase when every pass was ole's, boos every time Richard Langley touched the ball and jeers every time he misplaced a pass.
I honestly thought City would make it 3-0 before the interval but, nerves jangled slightly as Luton made it 2-1 at the end of the three minutes added time, a reward for ROWAN VINE thier most impressive player. It started from Darren Purse fluffing an attempted pass which rolled straight to an opponent, play was quickly switched to the right, Vine had a one-two on the edge of the box and, earned his luck as he broke three challenges and shot low inside Neil Alexander's near post for his third of the season and third in two games against City.
It took the gloss off what was another accomplished, entertaining and quality-packed first half display but, despite that, the potential for City to cause more damage after the break was very obvious.
Half-Time: CITY 2 LUTON 1
The less said about Ali's half-time music selection the better but what a belter of a goal in the kid;s game and what a shame the Luton fan had the worst kick of the children doing the half-time crossbar challenge. It was as poor as the numbers who turned up from Hertfordshire and their vocal efforts which were of the non-existent variety. It almost seemed as though they were too embarrassed to celebrate their goal as well.
Luton, to their immense credit, never stopped playing, played a full part in an entertaining game, showed commitment to attack and there's no reason to believe they won't be a Top 10 side, and possible play-off challengers. They had the first moment of the second half as a Langley corner presented a free header which was fortunately sent straight to Alexander. Purse, in an up and down show, demonstrated the quality side of his game by cushioning a beautiful header back to Alexander under pressure. That was their last threat until it didn't really matter.
For half-hour, Cardiff toyed with Luton with simple and effective passing and movement. McPhail pulled all the strings and it was an easy dominance which also saw two beautiful goals to take the score to 4-1.
On 55 minutes, the game was just about beyond any doubt as MICHAEL CHOPRA scored the first of a double. The movement was exquisite as City pulled Luton around before advancing down the left, McPhail's perfect cross to the opposite side of the area was superbly nodded back across goal and Chopra's first class movement told again as he left a defender to get free on the edge of the 6 yard box and guide an unstoppable shot back across Beresford high into the top corner. He made it look easy but that was classy finishing.
On 77, moments after Melvin Kamara replaced the injured Kevin McNaughton, he was released by a fantastic Gilbert pass from the back, he tore away from a defender and hit a perfect hard and low cross which CHOPRA turned home with power from the same area where he netted his first. Three passes, bang, bang, bang, simple! No wonder the crowd revelled in Easy, Easy, Easy chants couple with We are top of the League as news filtered that Birmingham were struggling in their match.
In between, those on Purse-watch noted a couple more anxious moments. Firstly a corner was headed his way but he didn't react quickly enough, the ball bounced off his stomach to Rowan Vine who fired over when the target should have been hit. A more awkward moment came as he allowed a cross to drop over him, McNaughton under great pressure had to head and, but for great Alexander reflexes would have been looking at a second successive own goal.
The final stages were disjointed. In different circumstances, City may have scored a 54th or 6th - although Chopra missed two good chances for a hat-trick, the best when he tore through from halfway but chipped into Beresford's grateful arms but it was disjointed. Ledley drooped to left back when McNaughton went off, Parry limped off too after tweaking his leg (hamstring?) taking a corner and replaced by Willo Flood and Neil Alexander limped through the final stages falling awkwardly taking a ball over a forward.
It was however the cue for some late Alexander The Brave heroics. Karate-kid style, he limped to make two or three top flying top drawer saves. One leg, he only needs one leg ... Mr Myagi would have been proud of the boy.
One final smile as Richard Langley, who played much better at NP today than he usually did in a City shirt, tried to outrun Joe, trod on the ball to keep it in play but couldn't stop himself running off the pitch and was sitting on a wall in the Canton Stand/Bob Bank corner as Joe moved away with the ball.
A very satisfying afternoon's work then. A big home win, top of the league with the best goal difference of all 24 teams. Chopra, with 5 goals in a work, is the Championship's leading scorer. There's not a poor performer in the team and we only need 33 more points to stay up! Some respect must also go to Mike Newell's team for making it a decent contest and Newell himself, although angry at the early red card, being last down the tunnel and not leaving until he shook hands with every Cardiff player. Basking at the top of the Championship and basking in late sunshine on a glorious day, Canton pubs were again bouncing afterwards. Wow, these are truly times to enjoy.
It's away at Southend next Sunday on Sky and then a big home clash with Wolves in a fortnight. With the team top at this level for the first time in 35 years and, arguably, playing the best football in all that time, Dave Jones and his players fully merit better support from South Wales than 14,000. Here's hoping we do our bit.
£50 - took t'other half
£8 - bought a couple of Plymouth away as well as today's
Club Shop Raid:
£40 (for children's birthday prezzies)
£122 - cheap as chips compared to what we'll pay if we get to the Prem!
Report from FootyMad
Cardiff City swept back to the top of the Championship table after beating ten-man Luton Town at Ninian Park.
The visitors were up against it from the ninth minute when Lewis Emanuel was sent off for fisting away a goalbound header from Riccardo Scimeca.
Bluebirds skipper Darren Purse slotted the resulting spot-kick into the net and City were on their way.
Paul Parry scored a second on the half-hour and, although Rowan Vine pulled one back in first-half stoppage-time, two Michael Chopra strikes in the second period gave the Bluebirds a deserved victory.
Cardiff showed one change from the side which were held to a 3-3 draw at Plymouth with Glenn Loovens back after suspension in place of Roger Johnson.
The Hatters fielded the side that drew with Colchester as former Bluebird Richard Langley returned to Ninian Park.
The game turned in Cardiff's favour when a Parry corner was headed goalwards by Scimeca. Emanuel appeared to fist the ball away and, although the referee allowed play to continue, his assistant flagged for the offence.
Once Purse had put away the spot-kick, Cardiff piled forward in an attempt to put the game beyond the Hatters.
They should have added a second in the 28th minute when Chopra sent Stephen McPhail clear but Hatters keeper Marlon Beresford stretched to block his shot.
Two minutes later the second goal did arrive with a superb strike by Parry. Chopra sprinted through the middle and released the winger who curled a left-footed shot into the far corner of the net.
Luton resorted to heaving the ball out of defence and their front two of Sam Parkin and Vine caused problems for the hosts. However, it came as a shock as the first half drew to a close when the City defence stood off and Vine hammered a low shot into the net from close range.
Luton started the second half boosted by that goal and Leon Barnett powered a header from a Langley corner goalwards but Neil Alexander gathered under the crossbar.
City restored their two-goal lead on the hour with a superb strike from Chopra. McPhail hit a cross-field pass to Steven Thompson who headed back across goal for the onrushing Chopra to rifle home.
Chopra was on the mark again in the 77th minute when substitute Malvin Kamara crossed from the right and the former Newcastle striker beat his marker to the ball before side-footing home from close range.
There was still time for Chopra to go close as he looked for his hat-trick but the Luton defence held out.
Wales On Sunday