Cardiff v Scunthorpe United

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Football League Championship

Cardiff1 (1)Scunthorpe United1 (0)

McPhail 37

Goodwin 55

Cardiff :
Schmeichel, McNaughton (Parry 53), Capaldi, Purse, Johnson, Rae, McPhail, Ledley, Sinclair, Fowler (Thompson 62), Hasselbaink
Subs not used:
Oakes, Loovens, Whittingham

Scunthorpe United :
Murphy (Lillis 46), Crosby, Butler, Byrne, Youga, Taylor, Cork, Goodwin, Hurst, Hayes, Paterson (Forte 69)
Subs not used:
May, Baraclough, Morris


by Dave Farrell at Ninian Park

THIS is what home games must be like; 20 minute bus ride, two-minute walk to the pub, ticket rendezvous successfully completed (cheers, Steve) and pint in hand, all in half an hour. Beats the nine-hour round trip for a real home game anytime.

So, with now obligatory father-in-law in tow (more of him later), the excitement mounted. I'd been looking forward to seeing Robbie Fowler (in my view, the best goal scorer of my generation) play since Cardiff signed him. Coupled with Jimmy-Floyd, Trevor Sinclair and a Schmeichel in goal this was going to be a special day. Once various other extended family members and friends arrived in the Cottage it was a taxi to the ground to renew my acquaintance with Ninian Park. Yep, still the same sh*it hole; seemingly they're building a new stadium a stone's throw away to share with the oval ball a-la Swansea.

Anyway game started and away we went. The first 20 minutes were interesting as Cardiff looked the stronger side and tried to find a way through the Iron's resilience. They didn't have much success, as the Fowler-Hasselbaink partnership clearly doesn't work. The Iron started to get more into the game and Hayes began to trouble the defence with his strength and work rate. Then the defence failed to deal with a Hasselbaink cross and McPhail headed his first goal for Cardiff on 37 minutes. Heads didn't drop and I looked forward to a more interesting second-half.

I have to admit to a gulp as the stadium announcer told of Lillis replacing Murphy (thigh injury sustained in warm-up apparently). The second-half was a truly absorbing game of football. The Iron had more purpose and looked much stronger, in contrast to Cardiff seeming to lose their way. They were clearly not able to deal with our work rate and commitment.

A well-taken goal for Goodwin on 55 minutes evened things up and made for an exciting rest of the half. The replacement of the disappointing Fowler on 62 minutes livened Cardiff up and they started to get more of the ball and make more in-roads into the Iron half. The Iron work-rate never dropped; at one corner, it was Hurst doing the clearing and Hayes heading clear the subsequent cross. Paterson was strangely subdued and was replaced by Forte on 74 minutes; he immediately had more of an effect and the Iron once again matched Cardiff.

The last 10 minutes were a bit of a siege on the Iron goal but the defence and, in particular, Lillis held firm. The replacement goalkeeper was superb; in addition to a number of good saves, the pick of which was a one handed effort from a point-blank Ledley header, Lillis was commanding and in control. He seemed to inspire confidence through his defence and showed what a bright prospect he is. If and when Murphy moves on, Lillis is a more than adequate replacement.

The final whistle was greeted by boos from the Cardiff fans and huge cheers from the Iron faithful. Another away point and I reckon now we need 31 more points to ensure safety.

With better finishing today, we could have won it but, to be honest, so could Cardiff so a fair result I thought. There's a rumour going around South Wales that Ridsdale is waiting until Cardiff have enough points in the bag before he takes the club into administration to avoid paying a due debt. At this rate, he's going to have to find £26m quick or Cardiff will be relegated!

The Iron played as one. The work-rate was simply amazing, exemplified I thought by Hayes, who never stopped running all day. He was a handful for Cardiff and with a better first touch and finishing he'd have scored. He will get more in other games.

Youga played a blinder, barely missing a tackle or misplacing a pass. In fact, he was left back in the Sun's Team-of-the-Day. But my Man-of-the-Match was Butler who was quite simply immense. He was at the thick of everything in defence, not missing a header or tackle. At one point, he raced 40 yards to track down an offside looking Hasselbaink and dispossessed him easily. He was, if you'll pardon the pun, head and shoulders above everyone on the pitch.

So to my father-in-law. He's a smart, Welshman in his late 60s whose first league game was Swansea v Iron in February '07 and whose knowledge of football is, by his own admission, limited.

Sitting afterwards, he said: 'There're no stars in that team, they all work hard for each other, no-one's selfish.'

I keep reading Adkins repeat that mantra after every game and after today's performance I reckon they're both right. My father-in-law did also go on to say: 'Mind, if they had someone more selfish, perhaps they'd score more!'

Who IS that warming the bench at the other SUFC?!