Saturday January 31st 2015
Cardiff City 0-2 Derby County.
Cardiff City Stadium, Cardiff.
[ENGLISH PYRAMID WARNING: The match report and blog entry below is based on a football match that occurred in the English Pyramid, in Wales]
We woke up in Cardiff, after staying the night in the Premier Inn in the centre of town. having spent last night watching probably the best UK pop-punk band at present, Save Your Breath, bow out with a final sold out gig at Clwb Ifor Bach.
We had planned originally to spend the afternoon drinking in Canton prior to today’s match. However, the many, many pints consumed at last night’s gig put paid to that idea. So my planned guide to pre-City pubs will have to wait for another home game.
A quick visit to Red Hot World Buffet in the city centre went down well. If you’ve never heard of the place, give it a look. You pay your £10.99, and you proceed to eat like a pig for about 90 minutes, chucking all manner of stuff on your plate. It’s one of the only times in your life that having both pasta and curry on your plate at the same time seems like a good idea.
After Red Hot, we walked back to a small coffee shop we found on our way from the hotel this morning. A nouveau-chic coffee establishment with shabby wooden flooring, industrial lighting, hanging from iron beams and most importantly – very nice coffee. I had a latte and my wife ordered an Americano, but was given a Cappuccino, which she liked very much, but still.
The Cardiff City Stadium (still un-named, awaiting stadium naming rights to be sold?) opened in 2009 , replacing City’s Ninian Park home, which has been replaced by a Redrow housing estate. It’s a bowl shaped arena, with an extension built onto the Ninian Stand, in order to house the additional demand for tickets following Cardiff’s Premier League adventure. However, with average attendances of around 20-22,000 it’s fair to say the new stand is fairly underused at the moment.
Under the concourse, the club do a lot to try and attract fans into the stadium early. The club usually show whatever match is today’s early kick off on multiple screens. Local unsigned bands play on a small stage (The Fosters Stage!) under the Canton Stand, bare in mind that this usually means an identikit collection of mumbling wannabe rockstars murdering ‘Dakota’ by Stereophonics.
Bar prices and refreshments, being the Skybet Championship are a phenomenal rip-off, especially given the places I’ve been in the last month. I forget the exact prices as I haven’t bought a pint in the ground in so long, I believe you won’t be getting a great deal of change from £4 though. A bag of Maltesers and a bottle of 7Up sets us back £5.40!
We’ve had our current season tickets for 5 years now and we’ve got a good bunch of people around us, who have been there for the same length of time, as such even in times like this, where the entertainment on the pitch is severely lacking – the entertainment around us is usually great.
Today’s match brings together two teams with differing fortunes this season. Derby County find themselves in the automatic promotion places, looking very likely to go up – while Cardiff City are on a slippery slope, struggling to pick up points and looking more and more like a side destined for League 1 football next season.
Cardiff started out strong to be fair, and when a controversial penalty was given against Aron Gunnarsson after he clipped Derby striker Chris Martin’s leg while clearing a ball away, it looked like today’s match was only going one way.
From where I was standing it looked a harsh decision, which was confirmed later on when I watched the Football League Show. Chris Martin stepped up to take the penalty, which was saved by Cardiff City stand-in keeper Simon Moore. A good save, but a weak penalty nonetheless.
The save was met with adulation by the Cardiff fans, who greeted the penalty save like a goal. It seemed like this would give Cardiff the lift they needed to progress in the match. It wasn’t to be, as only a couple of minutes later a cross from Jamie Ward was helped into the goal with an unfortunate touch by Cardiff defender Scott Malone.
A goal down, Cardiff heads dropped and Derby started to show the style that has found them in the automatic promotion places. They looked more controlled in possession and built up slowly from the back, with Cardiff struggling to retain the ball in the opponents third.
Alex Revell, preferred up front to top scorer Kenwyne Jones, worked tirelessly to try and restore parity was left frustrated as he was often found without support where it mattered. He tirelessly chased every loose ball, but was unable to make anything from the scraps he was given.
In first half injury time, Derby put the game beyond doubt with a second goal, headed in by Chris Martin who made up for his earlier missed penalty.
Today’s half-time entertainment came in the form of a pseudo-Penalty Shootout competition run by local radio station Capital FM. Which takes the form of a series of kicks by local people while ‘yoof’ radio celebrities screech into their microphones as loudly as possible. Someone won it, I can’t remember who as I stopped paying attention.
The introduction of top goal scorer Kenwyne Jones in the second half, doubled the amount of chances Cardiff City had on the Derby goal. Only a phenomenal one-handed save by Derby keeper Grant stopped Jones from getting a consolation goal for Cardiff from a close range header.
The longer the match went on, Derby showed their professionalism by retaining possession of the ball and snuffing out any potential Cardiff attacks.
As the match ends, Derby County find themselves joint top of the league, with only goal difference separating themselves and leaders Bournemouth. Cardiff City’s position in 13th is deceptive, as they are level on points with four other sides. A loss for Cardiff in their next game and wins for other teams, could see Cardiff City drop as low as 19th, which for a team who were in the Premier League only last season would be a poor state of affairs.
Today’s match was atypical of Cardiff City’s performance during their time under the jurisdiction of Russell Slade. In all honesty, I’ll be glad to go back to Welsh League matches after this performance.