Back to reality? Bluebirds end Billy’s honeymoon..

The hard work starts now for Billy

Cardiff City – 2
Nottingham Forest – 0 

The referee took centre stage in a ridiculous performance that stifled two of the division’s form teams into a scrappy performance constantly interrupted by unnecessary flouncing from Mr G Hegley – the latest in a long line of bloody incompetent referees we’ve had the displeasure of witnessing lately.  I’m entirely convinced that this season’s crop of Championship refereeing teams have been, on the whole, worse than last season in League One – which if you’d told me that this season I wouldn’t have believed!

The first twenty minutes or so saw Forest’s makeshift line up holding up the hosts and preventing any meaningful opportunities – but sod’s law, the home side scored a well-taken goal with their first real opportunity, McCormack had time and space to turn, his shot was well struck but deflected harshly into the path of Parry who made no mistake in drilling the ball into the bottom corner of the net to give Cardiff the lead, and bring the home fans to life who’d been barely audible.

This gave them confidence and Forest looked frankly fragile, and largely second best in all areas of the pitch.  Thornhill and Tyson did stand out as working particularly hard, although probably the closest we came was a rather tame header from the lone striker which was easily dealt with by Enckelman.  Just before half time Ledley looked sure to score but for Wes Morgan to put in a challenge which was difficult to see from the away end, but saw the home side demanding a penalty.  Unusually the referee didn’t respond to Cardiff’s diving antics, nor crowd calls, and didn’t award the spot kick.

McCleary was withdrawn at half time, which was a sensible move – he had made a series of poor decisions which cost us possession, and in introducing Garner it should have offered us more support up front for the hardworking but isolated Tyson.  And it started to look promising, with more decisive passing and more possession for the Reds, but with Cardiff looking very pacey and dangerous on the counter attack, without creating much end product.

McGugan finally managed to get a corner off the ground, which Enckelman flapped at just enough to avert any real danger.  Tyson got on the end of a poor backpass but wasn’t able to shoot with any power leaving a simple save for the home keeper.  Cardiff whipped in some dangerous crosses, one from Parry saw Brecks basically ignore Smith and head it out for a corner – safety first and all, but those Forest fans howling at Smithy – he did call for it, and was shaping to claim it – he can’t help it if a defender jumps infront of him and heads it away!

A strange incident saw a Cardiff player running down the wing with Wilson in attendance – there was no contact between the players, nor any incident of any note – but for some reason the linesman started flagging frantically, and after consultation with the incompetent bastard of a referee booked Wilson.  Breckin was booked moments later for questioning the linesman (understandably) in no uncertain terms – of course, the worst was yet to come from the calamity of a referee.

The Forest keeper was called into rare action after a clever dummy by Johnson, followed by a shot from Bothroyd which took him two attempts to gather.  Shortly after Tyson was able to beat Cardiff substitute Purse and Enckelman to get the ball in the net, but predictably because Purse fell over and the home crowd made a racket, the referee gave Cardiff a freekick for basically bugger all, denying Forest the equaliser.  Bastard.  The game stats suggest Forest committed 24 fouls – this is absolutely not the case.

Whilst the Reds were still coming to terms with this, Bothroyd did well to break down the left before cutting inside to make a monkey out of Ian Breckin before hitting an unstoppable curling shot off the far post to make the home side’s position pretty unassailable with only a couple of minutes left.  Tyson battled to the last, working hard to tee up a chance for Thornhill which was blocked before the midfielder could have a shot, and that was pretty much the end of the game.

In summary, it was a scrappy game in which Cardiff were moderately better than us – but as we know from bitter experience better performance doesn’t equate to three points all the time, and what I still think was a poor decision from the incompetent official cost us an equaliser.  Of course, in the minutes that remained in the game anything could’ve happened – but it leaves a bitter taste.

On the plus side, once you escape from the grim area containing Ninian Park and the rather meccano-looking new stadium Cardiff is actually a rather nice place to enjoy a few drinks, and after a few drinks generally everything looks better – although Mark Arthur getting his excuses in before the transfer window closes is rather worrying – because we do need more depth to our squad.  Maybe he’s double-bluffing?  Let’s hope so!