Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Drama in Australia's Next Top Model

Last night's Ozzie tv announced the wrong winner in a live show ... good entertainment at last for a trash tv show!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Championship match report: CARDIFF CITY 0 Crystal Palace 0

BBC Online show 2 minutes highlights of every Championship game, if they manage to scrape out 30 seconds from Cardiff City’s turgid 0-0 with Crystal Palace, it would have to include interviews. This was a shocker. Cardiff disjointed and clueless from first whistle to last managed to test the Palace keeper just once in the entire 90 minutes and had it not been for two inspired second half saves by Tom Heaton as the injury ravaged South Londoners looked the only side capable of finding the net, City would have recorded a shock defeat and have had few complaints.

Positives? Heaton, Hudson, Blake (back at centre half) and McNaughton played well enough and Lee Snail-or went off with a knock. You’ll notice not a single midfielder or forward is named, enough said. The only other positive is City remained 2nd, kept a clean sheet and collected a point, we had to be grateful for small mercies.

Problems? Every where I feckin’looked. No cohesion, no discernable pattern of play, energy lacking, no creativity or invention … and then there were the really bad aspects!

Too many players were found wanting. Naylor looked poor again in too many moments. Maybe 4 years coasting it in the lesser Scottish wilderness with Celtic has blunted him but Palace became the latest side to create just about everything on his side of the pitch although, in fairness, Wilfried Zaha, up against him looks a very useful prospect. Adam Matthews, lambasted by Jones and bombed from the side after 1 outing at Ipswich, must have his head in his hands watching Naylor getting regular football and no criticism by contrast.

Jason Koumas started and proceeded to show us magic, he looked invisible on the pitch all night. The player still looks short of fitness and, at present, a shadow of the player we loved last time we saw him in a City shirt. I honestly don’t think he made a single telling pass or touch or flick all night.

Seyi Olifinjana was welcomed back but was another who did not look fully fit and showed his frustrations, he could easily have been red carded in the second half for flicking out a boot at a Palace opponent. We all know how he can break up play but on a night where he needed to produce intensity and drive, he appeared to be continually holding up play in City’s midfield.

Peter Whittingham, allowed to take and waste every set piece, was dropped into centre midfield and spent the whole evening trying to dink a ball over the top for Bothroyd. I’ve had more fun in a dentist’s waiting room than watching that.

None of the midfielders got close to the strikers, let alone make a run beyond them and all too often, Cardiff had too few players in and around the box which helped make it easier for Palace on a night when City’s tactics were as suspect as their commitment.

Andy Keogh once again looked shocking. No partnership whatsoever with Jay Bothroyd, I’m assuming he was instructed to play behind Jay and nowhere near him. Either way, take his Millwall winner out of the equation, and he’s really looking a poor signing. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry when I saw him beaten in a 25 yard sprint against 37 year old Edgar Davids who played well and surprised me by how small and diminutive he was.

With all that on show – you can add in Burke running his nuts off but failing to produce and Jay holding, turning away and circling but getting nowhere – and a sub’s bench offering no real options to the unfolding problems, City actually succeeded following Saturday’s poor display in the win over Millwall with an even worse one.

It looked like a home banker and I was even more confident of a City win at kick-off with news that Gabor Gyepes and Steve McPhail were dropped to the bench, Blake was moved to centre back, Olifinjana was back from injury and Koumas was starting alongside him in a line up that read Heaton; McNaughton-Hudson-Blake-Naylor; Burke-Koumas-Olifinjana-Whittingham; Keogh-Bothroyd.

Cardiff’s injury problems were more than matched by Pal-arse who were missing 8 key players. David Wright, Darren Ambrose, Sean Scannell, Anthony Gardnet and Lee Hills were already on the treatment table but joined by Jon Obika and Adam Barrett who were both injured in the weekend’s 5-0 hammering at Derby, a result affected by an early red card to powerful Everton loan striker James Vaughan who was also absent starting his 3 match ban. Before 20 minutes had elapsed, they had lost another two as well with former Roger Johnson attempted assassinator Claude Davis pulling a hamstring and Neil Danns crocked after jumping for a corner against Tom Heaton.

Palace had lost all 4 previous aways without scoring and conceding 12 and looked limited with two banks of four playing deep and playing very close together yet Cardiff had no idea how to get past, through or around them and once the visitors realised how limited City were, they attacked with invention.

Cardiff started brightly but little did we know that the highlight of that spell - Tom Heaton catching the corner, crocking Danns, punting the ball downfield to see Burke close in on goal and hit a shot that was too close to Speroni who blocked it with ease - would be Cardiff’s only worthwhile attacking moment of the night.

The half was as drab as the dull night and drizzly swirling run, Cardiff becoming more and more laboured producing little for the 22,000 crowd (250 or so from Palace) to sign about.. Many of the crowd near me were taking their entertainment from watching a lone bat flying around the stadium.

Tom Heaton had to save smartly from Own Garvan’s first half header (yep, from a cross after Naylor was left behind) but excelled second half with his stops from Bennett and an incredible save to beat out Counago’s far post header from 3 yards blocking on the line (And, yep, both those headers were from crosses on Naylor’s side as well). A couple of crosses zipped in or across City’s box but Hudson, Blake and McNaughton dealt with them as, yep, they were all from the left.

Dave Jones had 7 subs but none you fancied to change the game – however surely Rae or Wildig should have had a chance at the expense of Koumas or Olifinjana??? - so his only move was to give the otherwise ignored Paul Quinn the final 10 minutes as Naylor limped off.

The frustrated and quiet crowd were remarkably patient and tried to lift City with support but found themselves reduced to pointless appeals for penalties and free-kicks, mostly for Jay falling about and hacked off with a Premier League ref (Steve Tanner) who gave Jay and Burke two harsh yellow cards.

Cardiff have now put together four poor back-to-back performances and if they continue in this vein, no way will they remain in the Top Two positions. They need to regroup and put in a massive, better effort at Barnsley on Saturday ahead of a two week international break.

Right now, I’m pleased with our league position but what I’m watching really is just not good enough.

Chopra back tonight?

Cardiff City's list of missing big hitters may finally see a reduction as the players start to return to fitness and full training.

Alhtough rumours have been about the return of Seyi Olinfinjana for some time, he may miss out again this evening and return for the visit to Barnsley on Saturday. Oli has been out since a foot injury sustained in the Hull home win on September 11th.

However there is speculation that Michael Chopra may be on the bench for tonight's hom,e clash with Crystal Palace. Chops was the victim of an unpunished appalling challenge in the home demolition of Doncaster on August 21st. At the time, he was reported as likely to be out for 2 to 3 months but he has responded very well to treatment and is back in full training. If not in the squad tonight, Chops is almost certain to be in the Barnsley squad on Saturday.

Of the others, Craig Bellamy is unlikelyto be risked in this week's games as he is still not back in full, impact training although there is a small chance he could feature at Barnsley. If he misses out altogether, that may rule him out for Wales Euro'2012 double header with Switzerland and Bulgaria next week. City fans - and management - would be concerned to see him in those games having not played for City since August 28 and having played no football this month other than Wales defeat in Montenegro at the startb of the month, a game which appears to have accelerated his problems. Cardiff have a heavy October fixture list and will need Bellamy for that so 2 Wales games in 5 days before it is a real worry given his problems.

The other key players - Chris Riggott and Danny Drinkwater - remain on schedule to be considered for Cardiff's first game after the international break which is Bristol City at CCS on October 16th.

Thankfully, City have no new problems after the weekend win over MillwaIl and will be strong favourites to complete a South London double with tonight's visit from Crystal Palace.

If Cardiff think they have problems, they can think again. Palace will have 8 key players absent and have lost all 4 away trips this season failing to score and conceding 12. Home banker then ... it had better be!

Tornado 1 Train 0

Monday, September 27, 2010

Video Highlights: CARDIFF CITY 2 Millwall 1

BBC Sport - Football - Highlights - Cardiff 2-1 Millwall

Andy Keogh's last-minute header seals all three points for Cardiff City against 10-man Millwall (UK users only).

Going, going, finally gone ... Ridsdale


It is being reported that Peter Ridsdale will receive his final payment in mid-October finally taking him off the gravy train that he rode for as long as possible at Cardiff City. Ridsdale will prefer to remind the public how he removed Sam Hammam, created a play-off challenging side, took City to a F.A. Cup Final and oversaw the arrivals of the Malaysians.

However Cardiff fans know it came at a very heavy cost which nearly saw the club collapse. Fans will also remain bitter over how Ridsdale treated them badly and seemed to mislead them which ultimately brought about demos earlier this year to vent their feelings.

T.G. and key investor Vincent Tan are supposed to have driven a hard bargain and, in the process, hopefully delivered a more secure and forward looking Cardiff City and show that they’re here for a while, not just a one season tilt.

Ridsdale was entitled to nearly £1M to leave the club (I’ve no idea how he managed such an outrageous amount on top of everything else he plundered) but the Malaysians are reported as having him settle for £500k but also made it a condition that he sold his shares to them.

PR’s shares were also controversial. Buying them at 15.69p, a price nobody else could get near, he also had a stadium completion bonus which were converted into shares at an incredible 11.11p giving him over 4.5M shares, 10.1% of the stock.

However, TG and VT are believed to be buying them at 5p. Their larger stake in a club they kept in business and have turned around dramatically makes for fantastic news.

Jarvis Debuts as a Shrimper

Cardiff City prospect Nat Jarvis made his football league debut at the weekend but for Southend United rather than the Bluebirds.

Jarvis, 19 next month, featured in several pre-season games and made a favourable impression on City fans, particularly for a display at Notts County. However with 8 new signings, he is clearly not going to be involved this term unless there is a major crisis.

It slipped under the radar that he was loaned to League Two Southend but his debut came at Hereford when he got on the pitch as a 77th minute sub with his side already leading 3-1 which proved to be the final score.

He is one of three Cardiff players currently on loan joining Anthony Gerrard (Hull) and Martin John (Newport).

Video of the Week - MASTERS IN FRANCE, Little Girl

I know nothing about Masters In France other than they’re a Cardiff group, their last single (Greyhound) was a Radio 1 single of the week and their new single featured in this video features Joe and Enzo Calzaghe plus a postcard to Romilly Road, Canton which is where I was grew up.

The song is pretty good too … … … …

The Goalie Who Cried

Got to laugh at this keeper who gifted the opposition a goal and then ran off in pitch to cry!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Championship match report: CARDIFF CITY 2 Millwall 1

CARDIFF CITY still misfiring and still missing their big hitters still recorded a late, late 2-1 win over Millwall and climb back to 2nd spot in a Championship. The winner came from an otherwise poor (and he wasn’t the only one) Andy Keogh flicking home an 88th header finally taking advantage of playing 10 men for 50 minutes.

An action packed 1st half saw the visitors early lead swiftly cancelled out by Jay Bothroyd who went on to miss chances that should have got him a hat-trick while Trotter was sent off FOR The Lions and Whittingham had a penalty saved for City. The second half, though, was tedious as a shockingly poor Cardiff never made the extra man count and had run out of ideas until Keogh popped up.

It is admirable that South Wales Police and the club are working hard to reduce restrictions for travelling fans. A compulsory “bubble” coach only fixture for many years, Millwall fans were allowed to travel independently and collect their match tickets at a rendezvous in Cardiff West Services. To still encourage coach travel, Millwall nobly charged £10, enough to entice far more fans that would otherwise have visited, nearly 1,200 supporters came down when they normally bring just a couple of hundred.

However the negative aspect of this arrangement was that kick-off time was brought forward to midday and it will be the same again when home to Bristol City in 3 weeks. While the change should be applauded, it is an annoyance to see 22,000 Cardiff fans inconvenienced to benefit easier arrangements for away fans. Fortunately, my boy’s Saturday match was brought forward 2 hours to a 9am kick-off (other sides could not change their times) but it meant I couldn’t catch up with pals for a pre-match drink and chat.

Cardiff’s injury problems are now into their second month. It has been possible to name a sick note X1 but it’s the absence of pivotal players which are hurting. Danny Drinkwater and Michael Chopra are rumoured to return in another 3 weeks, Craig Bellamy maybe sooner although it was a shock to learn this week that he still had not trained with the side since returning from Wales duty, new centre half signing Chris Riggott is some way off fitness levels required, Kevin McNaughton must have his own cubicle reserve at A&E and Jason Koumas strives for match fitness. The big shock, though, was Seyi Olifinjana who was strongly fancied to be back in the fold, not making the 16 again and another shock came as Tom Heaton replaced Marshall in goals. Four games since these problems brought two very average performance home wins and two poor away performances and defeats.

With limited options, Dave Jones named the same ten outfield men who lost out at Ipswich. City: Heaton; McNaughton-Hudson-Gyepes-Naylor; Burke-Rae-McPhail-Whittingham; Bothroyd-Keogh.

Mee-Waw from Sarf Larndarn are back in the Championship after 5 years thanks to achieving what Cardiff couldn’t last May, winning a Wembley play-off final. They have started well until home judders in the past week – a 6-1 pasting at the New Den by Watford and midweek Carling Cup loss to Ipswich - sent them into this clash looking to restore confidence but they were only 2 points behind City in 9th spot at kick-off. Their away form has been mixed, a stunning 3-0 opening day win at the Wurzels but followed it with defeat at Leeds and a draw at Nottingham Forest.

After ex-Jacks Manager Paolo Sousa saw off City at Leicester and ex-Jack Jason Scotland killed any chance of a result last week at Ipswich, it was the return of another former Swans boss, Kenny Jackett, to try and achieve a hat-trick of sorts over us. More connected interest came in the form of London’s Welsh striker Steve Morison while ex-City (and ex-Barry Town) keeper David Forde, a hapless figure in his time at Ninian Park, was making his 100th consecutive start for The Lions. No City fans would have predicted he’d be back in the Championship achieving that feat when he departed South Wales and, on the evidence of his erratic display in this game, I’m still wondering how he achieved it.

Cardiff started brightly and had Millwall on the back foot penned in their own half but their first break out on 10 minutes saw them score and, again, ask plenty of questions about City’s defending which was just not good enough. The impressive new Welsh international Steve Morison who troubled City’s defence all afternoon burst past Gabor Gyepes and was denied by a last gasp Mark Hudson challenge but failing to shape up, the ball ran loose for Kevin Lisbie to skin Naylor with far too much ease and square for SCOTT BARRON to turn home centre of goal completely unchallenged.

Millwall fans celebrated and were vocal but the kids in the Family Stand were giving it to them and getting it back. Quite surreal.

For a while after the goal, Cardiff struggled and second best anywhere you looked in midfield and showed few signs of getting into the game.

However drama was to follow starting with Jay Bothroyd’s equaliser on 25, Tony Naylor’s long throw causing havoc (perhaps his only positive moment of the game) as it was allowed to bounce in the box, Whitts nearly got a shot away but the ball ran loose for JAY BOTHROYD to place past Forde from close range. It was Jay’s 7th of the season, already more than halfway to beating last year’s total.

City finally brightened up and Jay should have had a first half hat-trick as two shots fizzed wide, a superb Whittingham run and cross set him up for a perfect far post header but he placed it to close to Forde and then a dazzling move and another fantastic Whittingham urge saw him teed up on the edge of the box with an inviting goal but he steered wide.

A significant moment came just past the half hour as Trotter who was playing really well caught Darcy studs out on the ankle, a careless rather than malicious challenge for which he had an instant red card. Darcy recovered from what initially looked a serious injury after almost 5 minutes of treatment.

That added time brought it own drama as Peter Whittingham was bundled down cutting inside the last defender – easy penalty I thought, not so thought others – only to be denied his spot kick by Forde, more of a good save than a bad miss. It leaves Whitts still looking for his 1st goal this term having netted 26 last season.

Half-time: City 1 Millwall 1

The 2nd half promised much and delivered next to nothing. Millwall dropped deeper but still carried a threat partly thanks to Morison but Cardiff’s defence, shorn of the protection offered by Oilfinjana and with two slow centre-halves, are shaky enough to give any side hope. Worst culprit, again, was Tony Naylor and there should be a debate on the merits of him getting starts on current form. Beaten with ease several times, shocking distribution, struggling to stop crosses, Millwall saw him as a weakness and attacked mostly on his side.

Up front however, City offered next to nothing and never showed they had an extra man out there. Stuck between boredom and frustration, it was hard work just watching it.

Jason Koumas replaced Steve McPhail (McPhail’s name being announced as he walked off the pitch was the only time all afternoon that I realised he was on it in the first place) and I thought he would find the time and space to make a telling pass or run, he didn’t.

Keogh shot narrowly wide falling, Koumas saw a shot blocked on the line and, as I recall it, that was the sum extent of telling City moments in the half until, 2 minutes left, Bothroyd took the ball on the touchline, drifted in, sent a ball in the box and ANDY KEOGH’s deft flicked header found the far corner of goal perfectly. His first goal for 13 months which he celebrated in shirt off run to the corner routine as City fans went ballistic and Millwall’s stopped all their celebratory gloating thinking they’d achieved a result. Now they had to put up with “One nil and you ***ed it up”.

There were plenty of players to be concerned about – Naylor, the Gyepes-Hudson partnership, Keogh – and only Jay, Blake and McNaughton who played reasonably well as well as Gavin Rae who once more looked useful from the bench. Will City go up or even stay in contention playing like this? Not a chance. The sooner the big hitters are back, the better as we look very ordinary without them.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Johnny Owen, The Merthyr Matchstick Man remembered 30 years on

It really doesn't seem that long ago and I didn't realise he was still just a kid and only 23 at the time but today marks the 30th Anniversary of Johnny Owen getting knocked out and sent into a coma against Pintor in L.A. and subsequently losing his life a few weeks later.

An amazing man, quietly spoken and puny looking, yet he was a boxing great and a warrior in the ring.

My one abiding memory of Johnny was outside the ring as he used to holiday every summer with his family at Fontygary caravan site in Rhoose. My parents had a caravan there too as I used to stay there every weekend and through the summer.

Johnny, even though on holidays, would go on punishing runs and training regimes daily, sometimes morning and evening, and a few of us used to watch him and try to keep up with him. We had no chance.

His training at Fonty often ended at the "99 steps", a winding and different height set of steps from the cliff to the beach near Aberthaw power station. At my fittest - and I was once upon a time - my mates and myself used to times how quickly we could get up them. It was lung bursting stuff and we'd be knackered and lying on the grass at the top after 1 attempt ... Johnny Owen would run up and down them 10 times barely breaking sweat!

RIP Johnny, never forgotten you, never will.

Business News

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Bellamy still out as City heasd to Ipswich but Oli and Jay back

It is believed that Cardiff City flew to Ipswich yesterday without Craig Bellamy, despite media hints of his return, but that Seyi Olifinjana and Jay Bothroyd were with the side.

If true and they play, it can only be good news for City as both are pivotal players in the side.

Bellamy is expected to be back for the Milwall home clash next weekend but Danny Drinkwater is set to be absent for another 3 weeks and Michael Chopra a week longer.

Although unconfirmed at this stage, the match is set to be streamed live on the Bet 365 and William Hill websites so worth check it later.

Slam Dunk with a difference

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Video Lowlights: Leicester 2 Cardiff City 1

Two second-half goals from Wales midfielder Andy King gives Paulo Sousa his first league win as Leicester boss. Available to UK users only.

Worth watching the 1st minute just to see Naylor's goal but avoid the rest of it!

Woman With Gorgeous Melons

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


Gulp, hard to believe it's been with us for that long but it has. Phil Stead aka Eric The Red tells how a legend was born.

On the night of Friday 14th September, 20 years ago, our favourite Welsh language psychobilly/punk band U Thant were playing a gig at Chapter Arts Centre. Rhys Boore, the U Thant singer was on top form, dressed in his pink lycra catsuit. I remember at one stage we raided a load of crates from the yard outside and wore them as shorts somehow. Rhys had recently started "doing the ayatollah" at gigs, after watching the extraordinary scenes from Iran where thousands of Iranians had created this amazing spectacle by banging their heads as a sign of grief. And we all did it that night too. After the gig, we jumped in the groups' tour van and drove round our mates' houses stealing furniture. If this sounds like a "Fanzine Writers" article, that's because it was 1990.

Early the following morning, we left for Lincoln, where City were playing an early season game. We weren't hooligans, we were just a bunch of lads who followed City everywhere. Our pockets were full of pastiche calling cards.... "You have just met The Gregarious Crew."

I think we travelled up in a fishmonger's van that morning. It stank, and we lay on bean bags in the back drinking cider.

Ex-City striker Steve Thompson sings a song about it
and City's 2008 F.A. Cup Final appearence
... eventually

The early nineties were a great time to watch football. Post-Hillsborough, there was a unity amongst fans, and hooliganism all but died out. It meant that we could drink and socialise freely in the City centres across the old 4th Division, without fear of trouble. I remember that we had a great time in Lincoln City Centre that morning and sang all the way to the game.

The game itself was awful, as most were. It was 0-0 I think, and about 150 City fans were watching from the open terrace in a bit of a stupor. Then from nowhere, a small police riot squad arrived, complete with helmets , visors and a small camera crew. Seizing on the absurdity of the situation, we started performing. Stripped to the waist, we started doing "the Ayatollah" for the cameras. I remember running around the terrace for most of the game, trying to get the rest of the City fans to join in. Some did, but most just called me a t**t.

These were the days of inflatable bananas at Man City, boing-boing at West Brom, and a general absurdist reaction to the horrors of Hillsborough and Heysel. Our little crew took to this atmosphere of surrealism with zeal. There were lots of stupid chants at the time, including "I'm Henry the 8th, I am", "Any Dream Will Do", (in tribute to City player Jason Donovan), and various routines involving stripping, hopping and disco dancing.

But it was the Ayatollah that caught on, thanks to some happy coincidences which caused big away support in the early nineties. There was the game at Hereford, where Rick Wright had told the English club that City fans would be boycotting the game. 4,000 turned up. I remember the whole traffic jam of City fans Ayatollahing through the windows of their cars, and for me that was the moment I knew it had caught on. There was an end of season Ayatollah fancy dress party at Peterborough where myself and another Ayatollah were encouraged by police to preach from the fences, and judge the great cross-terrace Ayatollah races. The Ayatollah was now firmly established.

It all stopped for me at a Welsh Cup semi final at the Vetch in about 1994/5 when I celebrated Chris Pike's winning goal with an Ayatollah performance at the front of the terrace. I was arrested and charged with incitement to riot. I was released after the football spotters told the regulars that I was no troublemaker and video evidence proved my innocence.

But that finished it for me. I had never been involved with the police before or since. I could sense that times were changing and there was a return to the bad old days where a nervous police force were clamping down on any form of exhibitionist behaviour. I haven't done the ayatollah for years now, but I still smile a bit to myself when I see it performed, and watch how it has grown and developed from the U Thant gigs. The best Ayatollah ever? Probably the home game against Man City in the FA Cup, 1994, when the TV cameras captured the Bob Bank in full head-slapping action.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Championship match report: Leicester City 2 CARDIFF CITY 1

On paper, Cardiff City going into the game in 2nd spot with four successive wins, averaging over 2 goals per game and without a goal conceded in more than 5 hours should have had few problems dealing with Leicester City in 23rd, without a win and scoring less than a goal per game. On grass, it was a different story as The Foxes avenged last season’s F.A. Cup and Play-Off defeats to the Bluebirds with a thoroughly deserved 2-1 victory … and it could have been more.

King Power – whoever they are – sponsor Leicester City and it was King Power that won the night too with classy Welshman Andy King scoring two excellent goals after the interval to turn around an interval deficit from Tony Naylor’s excellent fluke, a 35 yard hammered cross from the touchline flying into the top corner.

Cardiff were fitting square pegs in round holes and using players short on match fitness with 5 pivotal players absent who surely would have changed the game while, in central midfield, they were forced to use Rae and McPhail whom have misfired as a duo for a couple of years so no surprise it happened again. However there is no reason for despondency with City still in 2nd and still 2 points clear of those in early season pursuit.

This was Cardiff’s 3rd trip to Leicester in 8 months as the sides met 5 times last season in league, play-off and F.A. Cup action. City lost at Walker’s Stadium in the Championship (one of only two defeats in the previous 11 visits before this one) so the 150 or so trip is now well known to travelling Bluebirds yet over 1,000 turned up again. They were all thankful for no road problems and good weather leaving behind the all day rain and winds at home for blue skies and sun.

Seyi Olifinjana had not sufficiently recovered from a weekend foot injury, Gavin Rae replacing him was the only change from the side that beat Hull last Saturday but it effectively made Cardiff weaker again. Craig Bellamy had not recovered from his swollen knee either with Dave Jones not ready to take any risks so early in the season. Others still missing were Danny H2O, Chops and Jay-B. City: Marshall; McNaughton-Hudson-Gyepes-Naylor; Burke-Rae-McPhail-Koumas-Whittingham; Keogh.

Leicester’s poor start, they were in the bottom two pre-kick off, has put pressure on ex-Jack boss Paolo Sousa. Agent Sousa’s ability to make Swansea dull and toothless angered their fans but delighted Bluebirds everywhere and he was threatening more of the same with the Foxes. However a good weekend draw at Coventry when they were unlucky not to win combined with the return on loan of fans favourite Martin Waghorn from Sunderland sent them into this encounter with more hope and, let’s be honest, we know they’re a good side with good players.

They also made one change but it was deliberate as centre forward battering ram Steve Howard who mastered Mark Hudson when the sides last night was given the chance to do that again. Leicester: Ikeme-Neilson-Morrison-Berner-Hobbs-Oakley-King-Dyer-Wellens-Howard-Waghorn.

There were larger than usual spaces in Walkers but it’s a big ground and the crowd was 20,510. The City enclosed section behind a corner flag was packed but as an overspill happened at kick-off, they allowed us more space.

One difference this season was their fans closest to us were joined at the very back of the stand by a 20+ stone topless bloke hammering a bongo – he was Fat Boy Drum. And fair does to them, they were in good and sometimes humorous voice, getting involved in plenty of banter and made a good noise although chants about Dave Jones were out of order.

Cardiff started reasonably well looking clam and assured without creating threat but an early sign of what was to come happened as the usually reliable Kevin McNaughton under hit a back pass sending Dyer away but he was denied by Gyepes. However Dyer, possibly the best and most influential player of the night, went on to have a fantastic night skinning SuperKev with pace and skill time and again. I think he was beaten more in one night that he may be all season.

Yet it was City who took the lead on 26 minutes, possibly against the run of play, with a freak but wonder goal. City brought the ball out well from the back, Tony Naylor burst forward on the touchline and Jason Koumas spotted then found him with a wonderful pass, NAYLOR advanced to 40 yards out from goal and unleashed a whipped ball clearly aiming for the far post but it sailed through the air with power completely deceiving Ikeme and flying home. Naylor seemed embarrassed and did not celebrate … not until City fans asked him to ayatollah anyway! Any time he touched the ball for the rest of the half, cries of shooooooot went up.

Cardiff enjoyed their best spell of the game after the goal playing some delightful football, in charge as Leicester tried to attack and threatened to increase their lead with whipped Whittingham corners causing real problems, Koumas going close from distance and, another time, bursting clear through the middle but his lack of fitness told as he was caught while a superb move and a fancy bit of Whittingham skill gave the otherwise anonymous Keogh clear sight of goal but he hit straight at the Foxes keeper.

However Cardiff also survived two let offs before the interval as a Waghorn corner was missed by Marshall and headed away by a defender with Howard’s follow up header being headed of the line by Keogh. Just about on half time, Dyer beat Naughts again and his ball across goal saw Waghorn fail to make a connection at the far post.

Half-time: Leicester 0 Cardiff 1

Before the game, I’d happily have taken a point on hearing the team news. At half-time, I hoped we would hold on for a win and maybe add to the score and make it more comfortable but it turned out to be neither as Leicester significantly upped the tempo and their work-rate and Cardiff were unable to match it with inevitable consequences.

Fast and furious from the restart, Leicester truly battered us and City looked dazed. With five in midfield, we still looked outnumbered but that was also due to players who were fast running out of steam. Gavin Rae, Steve McPhail and Koumas were way short of full match fitness while Burke had one of his poorer shows and Whitts, after an impressive opening 45, could do nothing right after the break. It left Keogh completely isolated and having no chance with hoisted balls towards him while being surrounded by two centre halves of 6’2’ and 6’5.

We looked like midgets against giants and, to make it worse, City were now failing to hold the ball on the rare occasions they got it and were making mistakes everywhere you looked.

Leicester have failed to score before 52 minutes all season and, bang on cue, they equalised in that very minute. After heavy bombardment, Wellard hoisted a ball into the box and nobody covered the run of KING, ghosting into the box, whose flicked header gave Marshall no chance.

Disappointingly, there was no Cardiff response at all to the setback and Leicester seemed only to intensify their pressure. Hudson and Gyepes, so comfortable before the break, were now being beaten and with midfield barely competing, Cardiff stayed level only thanks to Marshall making a double save and then a couple more. Praying for them to run out of steam, it was clearly Cardiff who had and they were behind on 68 minutes. A sweeping move and a sweeping finish with KING placing home superbly.

Dave Jones’ bench offered minimal options and the only changes were Blake and Wildig replacing McPhail and Koumas, the departing players were out on their feet. The incoming players, especially Wildig giving everything to burst forward and support Keogh, were understandably not able to make any impact at all.

City did get forward a couple of times in the closing stages, Keogh might even have levelled had he gambled and a stuck a leg out as Chris Burke’s shot flew across goal, another effort – after he swapped sides with Whitts – flew high and wide but it was very easy for Leicester to close out the game and how they never added a third when Marshall tried a play a quick goal kick to Naylor and gave it straight to Dyer who somehow hit the post instead of netting, I’ll never know.

The mood amongst City fans was subdued, they all knew we were a well beaten side but there was great disappointment that they failed to get something from the clash having been ahead at the break and their failure to make a decent fight of it second half.

Nobody was really bad for Cardiff but nobody had a good game either, they were individually and collectively very average over the 90 minutes but with high hopes that at least two of the missing five will be back for Ipswich away this weekend, Cardiff will be in a good position to go again and they’re more than capable of that.

In Pictures: Leicester City 2 Cardiff City 1

Foxes Test Tonight

Cardiff City travel to Leicester City tonight for the first of two testing away games in five days still unsure of who will be playing for them.

Having managed to overcome Hull with relative ease at the weekend without key players Craig Bellamy, Jay Bothroyd, Danny Drinkwater and Michael Chopra and losing king midfielder Seya Oilifnjana, they would like some of them to return.

Cardiff beat Leicester in last season's play offs

More of the same tonight please lads!

Chops is recovering well from his ankle injury but will be out for another month but the others are all in line for fitness tests before the Walkers Stadium “crunch”. Suggestions are that Craig Bellamy and Seyi Olifinjana are winning their battles but that Jay Bothroyd and Danny Drinkwater will porbably not be available.

However manager Dave Jones has assured supporters that even if Bellamy is absent again later, his problem is not as big a worry serious as some weekend speculation had it. "It is not a serious injury with Craig, there is nothing wrong with his knee structure but he does have a bit of fluid. He has had an injection to help it settle down."

Leicester are seeking revenge from last season’s play-defeat but have started the new season badly without a win so far and are currently 23rd with just 2 points placing new boss, ex-Swansea manager Paulo Sousa, under pressure from discontented fans. However Cardiff fans would love to see City add to his agony but they are showing signs of improvement drawing 1-1 at Coventry last weekend and, by all accounts, being unlucky not to have won.

The Ecstasy and The Agony

Watch this goalkeeper celebrate scoring and then sees what happens to him within 30 seconds!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Little and Large Cymru Style
The old boss meets the new boss

As every Welsh fan speculated whether they preferred someone else or not, Brain Flynn was appointed this morning as Wales' caretaker manager for the next two Euro 2012 qualifiers against Bulgaria and Switzerland in October. If successful, there is little doubt that a permanent offer would be made.

Flynn, now 54, has had a highly successful spell as Wales Under 21 manager, most of the current squad having worked with him at that level which should make an easy transistion. His Under 21 coaches Alan Curtis and David Williams are also stepping up which presumably means Dean Saunders and Roy Evans will leave the set up.

The new boss is understandably buoyant, "Naturally, as a very proud Welshman, this is a job that I have always wanted to do, I realise that initially it is only for two games, but I shall give it my all to try and achieve results and stake a claim for the job on a permanent basis. I have thoroughly enjoyed working with John Toshack in the Wales setup and feel that we have made great strides to establishing a side for the future.”

Video Highlights: CARDIFF CITY 2 Hull City 0

BBC Sport - Football - Highlights - Cardiff 2-0 Hull

Seyi Olofinjana's first-half strike against his parent club guides Cardiff City to a win over Hull as the Welshmen continue their unbeaten league start.

Video of the Week - KINGS of LEON, Radioactive

With a new album. Come Around Sundown, out October 18th, Kings of Leon have just released a video for their first signle culled from it. Radioactive is out shortly.

It's Behind You

The trick here is to check the bank worker on the left hand side of the tv pundit and watch his pc screen!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Championship match report: CARDIFF CITY 2 Hull City 0

No Bellamy, Bothroyd, no Chopra, no Drinkwater and, during the game, no Olifinjana either but a sign of Cardiff’s squad strength was that they still managed to overcome Hull City 2-0 and with relative comfort too in a game that won’t live too long in the memory after another home sell out crowd, 24,083.

It was a scrappy affair so little wonder BBC’s flagship Football League Show decided not to make it the main match, as scheduled.

However given the whole midfield and attacking spine of City’s team was missing, it has to rank as the most worthy victory of the season and sends out another powerful message with City 2nd on goal difference only behind QPR, 2 points clear of the chasers and 5 points ahead of the side outside the play-offs and Cardiff’s 4th successive league win, the first time that the club have managed such a feat for 4 years.

It seemed like fate that Seyi Olifinjana, on loan from Hull who still pay almost two thirds of his wages, scored the winner nipping in front of Anthony Gerrard on loan from Cardiff. Victory was wrapped up by the rarest of items, a Gavin Rae goal, late on in a contest in which Cardiff were hardly threatened all afternoon.

With those absentees, City had only one available striker in Andy Keogh who made his full debut in a 4-5-1 system. Also starting their first league games of the season were Jason Koumas and Steve McPhail while Kevin McNaughton returned form his latest injury as Dave Jones’ side lined up Marshall, McNaughton-Hudson-Gyepes-Naylor; Whittingham-McPhail-Olifinjana-Koumas-Burke; Keogh.

It was only just over 3 years ago that Hull won on the last day of the Championship season with a win at Ninian Park to avoid relegation to League One. Yet they were promoted to the Premier League next term, survived first time but on and off field problems saw them return to this level.

Their start has been far from spectacular with an opening day home win over Swansea but it’s 4 league and cup defeats plus a draw since but manager Nigel Worthington was back in charge after missing their last game and was hospitalised with chest pains. This latest defeat on the road means they are now 27 matches dating back to March 2009 and they have now lost all 4 away games this term.

Despite getting rid of big names and big earners as they grapple with massive financial problems and being saddled with Jimmy Bullard taking home almost £50k a week for training with the youth team, they still have enough decent names on their team sheet with players like Koren, Daniel Ayala (on loan from Liverpool), McShane and Craig Fagan returning from injury, Barmby and Kilbane. However, on the evidence at CCS, they looked far off being a team.

Hull City: Duke; McShane-Ayala-Gerrard-Dawson; Kilbane-Ayala-Barmby-Koren-Gracia; Koren

The pattern of the contest emerged in its earliest stages with Keogh a lone front man working hard but finding it a struggle to win the ball and when he did, a bigger struggle to find any City player within 10 to 15 yards of him to lay off to. He’s not that type of player but, even so, he gave both Hull centre halves a tough afternoon, Gerrard and the spoiler Ayala would have been trounced had Bothroyd and Bellamy been available.

On a pitch with lines cut across the pitch but different shaded circles all over (what is it? Steve McPhail turning points?), City should have scored early when Whittingham brilliantly beat three opponents in the tightest of spaces then played the ball across the face of the box but McPhail’s stabbed left footer rolled just wide of the far post with Duke beaten.

The opener was on 20 minutes as Burke won a free-kick on the touchline, Whittingham whipped in the perfect ball and OLIFINJANA powerfully heading home beating Gerrard and getting between both centre halves.

Cardiff settled to play some superb football without having the cutting edge and McNaughton was so unlucky on a charge that beat 3 men before his low shot bounced off the far post while, at the other end, Marshall had to make two saves, both from chances originating from Lee Naylor’s wayward distribution.

Cardiff were on top and deservedly winning at the break but there was little to report.

Half-time: Cardiff 0 Hull 0

Half-time entertainment was 50 or more cheerleaders performing a messy routine, more entertaining was Ali playing The Beatles’ Money Can’t Buy Me Love and dedicating it to Wayne Rooney.

The second half was a strange affair with the game played at a canter. Cardiff were more than happy to protect what they had while Hull surprisingly showed no urgency, desire or creativity to want to get back into it.

Half chances came and were all Cardiff’s as Keogh almost flicked home at the near post and Koumas went close twice, an angled drive and a mid box volley before going just wide of the same post.

Hull offered nothing so made changes and there was worry as Arsenal’s on loan Jay Simpson, scorer of 2 for QPR in a win at Cardiff last season, seemed able to turn Mark Hudson with far too much ease but City’s defence, despite rarely being worked, were resolute and undoubtedly chuffed to record their third successive Championship clean sheet – a run which has not seen them concede for over 5 hours of football.

Olifinjana, having signalled to the bench, made way early second half for Gavin Rae having again been so influential. However Jason Koumas, far less influential and anonymous for the most part, was replaced by Wildig with 15 to go and those subs made an impact. Rae did well after a poor first touch back which almost sent a Hull player in on goal while Wildig, looking much stronger, more than played his part too.

The pair were involved in the second goal that finished it on 81 minutes. A long Naylor pass, Keogh winning a rare flick down, Whittingham brought the ball inside, Wildig took a pass and flicked a delightful reverse pass and GAVIN RAE stabbed home from 6 yards, the ball travelling through keeper Matt Duke’s legs.

A lovely move which Ali announced as “Gavin Rae’s first goal of the season”, forgetting to add it will be his last goal too!

Cardiff threatened to add a third but never did and coasted to final whistle. A test they passed with surprising ease given how they had to re-adjust but certainly no classic.

Still, it was worth a celebration and a few of us took to the Napier, the Cardiff City karaoke was excellent and ended up with Mr Statto (John Heyda) and Mike Morris amongst others in an Indian restaurant that doesn’t sell drink which sent us running to off licences and Tesco for our Cobra’s!