Cardiff City latest winners in the City Ground points giveaway!

Nottingham Forest – 0
Cardiff City – 1

I tire of writing these reports; I wasn’t going to bother ’til tomorrow – but then I decided tomorrow was a new day, so I’d do it this evening after all.  A shake-up from Smoulds saw Perch in for Chambers at right back, Lynch replacing Bennett at left back, McGugan into midfield and Garner up front – with Tyson dropping to the bench and Cole dropped entirely, and Forest playing the murky bastard-child-of-433-and-451 formation that Smoulderwood had abandoned for a more traditional 442 in recent games.

And d’you know what?  For around thirty to forty minutes it looked like it might well work.  A first glimpse of Garner in a Forest shirt showed much promise; particularly given he must be incredibly short on match fitness and sharpness.  The visitors, with the numerous and vocal fans (more on them later), were restricted to very few opportunities, the best of which was spannered wide by the ungainly Bothroyd.  Again a shove in the area didn’t give us a penalty, as on Tuesday night, and again despite crafting chances – Forest were wasteful in taking them.  McGugan coming closest striking the post.

 The visitors surprised me in their defensive outlook; so half time came with some degree of cautious optimism in the stands – after all, we’ve seen good performances in the first half easily outdone by buffoonery in the second.  It’s true that when our defence had duties to perform the central two looked shaky to say the least, and Cardiff do have dangerous players capable of causing damage on the break – they were clearly just having an off day this afternoon.

Tyson was introduced at half time for Anderson; presumably down to tiredness issues for the loanee, and the second half started really positively – with Forest crafting real chances with a bit of guile and cunning pay.  Perch crossed one to the back stick which Tyson headed by to Garner who was only prevented from netting on his debut by a last ditch block from a Cardiff defender.  Seconds later clever play from McGugan set McCleary up for a chance which was just wide of the post.

Then came the calamity.  McGugan clumsily brought down McPhail in the area, the referee awarded the spotkick, McCormack converted by blasting it low and central – underneath the diving Camp.  A veritable McPenalty if you will, and one that somewhat knocked the stuffing out of the Reds and energised the visitors into their first real spell of dominance in the game as they started to get forward more and cause problems for ‘Calamity Wes’ and ‘Calamity Luke’ (who had been brought on just before the penalty for ‘Calamity Kelvin’).

McCleary was the best attacking hope for the Reds, and he brought another good save from Heaton from the edge of the area, before the diminutive figure of Robert Earnshaw was introduced into the fray for the clearly tired Garner – a solid debut from him though, although it was good to see Earnie back too.  He received a good ovation from Forest and Cardiff fans alike, which is always nice to see.

The travelling side had clearly decided they were content to sit on their lead – and given their creation of chances so far that wasn’t really surprising.  It felt like the equaliser must arrive when Earnshaw turned excellently to get through on goal, but his shot from an angle was excellently saved by Heaton – although I couldn’t help but half wish he’d squared it for the onrushing Tyson – however, I think most strikers in his position would’ve gone for goal.

Our best chance in the second half came from Tyson burst down the left flank, he put in an excellent cross for Cohen, but alas the impressive Miguel Comminges managed to get a touch on it to enable his keeper to gather.  After this it became a huffing and puffing exercise as Cardiff tried to run down the clock, with Forest unable to create any more meaningful chances meaning we still find ourselves rooted to the bottom of the table on six points.  Joy.

Now, I usually look forward to seeing a big away following – but I had some reservations based on past experiences with Bluebird fans.  Outside the ground though I got chatting to a group of lads from Cardiff, as I often do with away fans, and they were top blokes.  Perhaps I had been a little forward in thinking negative things.  During the game I spotted the same group of lads, foaming at the mouth chanting ‘scabs’ at a few bemused Forest fans.  Perhaps I was right after all, or perhaps some sort of weird transmogrification happens when they enter a football ground.

It brings out the worst in our fans too; I’m no fan of this rabid patriotism that encounters with Welsh teams brings out in people.  Nothing wrong with being proud of your country, not at all, but the pointless England/Welsh slagging off is completely dull.  As is the ‘scabs’ nonsense, as is our ‘sign on..’ nonsense in response.  The image of a pre-teen Welsh lad chanting ‘scabs’ at Forest fans sums it up really.  This lad wasn’t even born during the miner’s strikers.  I was only about 7 or 8.  Pretty pathetic.

It’s the unbridled hatred that confuses me though; we all like a bit of banter – but Cardiff do have a much higher per cent of properly angry fans.  I mean, if En-ger-land is so full of shit, why the hell would you bother coming?  Where does this rage come from?  I guess they probably get a similar reaction from every English club’s moron element as they do here, so perhaps are constantly on the defensive.  I don’t know – it’s fascinating observing them from an anthropological point of view, though!

As my companion at the game ruefully concluded as we exited the ground back to the bus stop, our season tickets had at least served the dual function of allowing us to see a football match but also take a look at the ‘idiot enclosure’ in the human zoo that the away end became this afternoon.

Also finally, I hear many whispers of some kind of rift between Paul Smith and Kelvin Wilson; which some folk have ascribed to the hasty acquisition of Lee Camp.  Today’s rumour (courtesy of a comment on an earlier post) is that Wilson struck Smith today.  Now, ‘Calamity Kelvin’ was poor again tonight, and frankly I’m losing patience with all our defenders at the moment, and if this is true it worries me – because this is the person who wears the armband, what kind of example does that set?  

I’m losing faith in a lot of things.  It sounds repetitive, and like a horrible cliche, but we were the better team today, and but for some slightly shonky refereeing (their penalty was a penalty, but where was ours?), good saves, bad luck (hitting the post) and poor taking of chances, we’ve once again managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.  How many times do you hear comments like that retrospectively about a team that has been relegated?  Quite often I fancy.

On the bright side, Garner looks good – when he gets to full fitness and sharpness the prospect of him excites me.  Earnie returning is a great boost too, although the amount of limping that was going on (McGugan, McCleary and Tyson at various points) worries me – do we not do something to prevent injuries that other teams do?  And our defence worries me – I don’t think most of our defenders are good enough for this level – if any of them as Wilson is properly going off the boil, and he was the best candidate for making the step up.

Palace away up next, which will be a tricky place to go – particularly with the inevitable Warnock-inspired trick-or-cheat fest that is bound to ensue; and then I don’t need to mention the odious place to which we must trudge our weary feet a week tomorrow.  Trips to that place have hardly been replete with joy since it was built – and sadly I can’t see this one being any different, given how things are panning out for us.  Deep joy!