Beaten but Unbowed
While it was disappointing to be beaten at Hull on Saturday, the manner of the team's performance was once again a cause for great optimism.
Hull are a pretty good side by this division's standards but City's players gave another decent account of themselves despite the squad's numerous injury problems, the recent busy schedule and the blistering heat at the KC Stadium.The fact that the Bluebirds had a goalkeeper, three defenders and a 17 year-old midfielder on the bench spoke volumes about the way in which Malky Mackay's squad has been decimated by injuries in recent weeks. The starting eleven effectively picked itself and I'm sure many of us in away end believed defeat was a formality when our only fit striker, Kenny Miller, limped off after just nine minutes. However, Mackay's men dug in, battled hard and produced some good football during the remainder of a keenly-contested game. A narrow victory for Hull was probably the right result, although City could easily have nicked at least a point had it not been for three dubious decisions from the officials.The much talked about penalty incident was ridiculous. From my vantage point it appeared that Filip Kiss was marginally offside when he received the ball before being brought down, but the fact of the matter is that the linesman didn't raise his flag at any stage. He only called the referee over after several Hull players had remonstrated with him and the home crowd behind him had been hollering for a free-kick. In my opinion, the decision in Hull's favour was unltimately the right one, but the way in which the officials arrived at it was a joke.The decision which really angered me was the free-kick awarded against Aron Gunnarsson in the build-up to Nicky Barmby's winner. City were in the ascendency at that stage and Gunnarsson won the ball cleanly in the centre of midfield, but the linesman chose to flag for an unknown offence. Hull took the free-kick quickly and caught the Bluebirds on the break with a classic sucker-punch. Reports afterwards suggested the free-kick may have been awarded for handball. At the time, I thought the linesman had given a foul for high feet. Either way, the decision was blatantly the wrong one and City paid the penalty.The third incident involved a possible handball in the Hull penalty area during the dying moments of injury time. I didn't see that one too clearly and would like to see it again, but several of the Cardiff players were incensed. It's not often you see Peter Whittingham getting angry, but he appeared furious that the referee had failed to award a penalty.City's attempts to rescue a point having twice fallen behind were a credit to the players. The BBC match statistics suggest that possession was equally shared between the sides throughout the ninety minutes, while both teams managed six efforts on target. It was a decent team effort in difficult circumstances, while a few individual performances were worthy of note. Young Joe Mason put in a terrific shift as a lone striker once Miller had been substituted. Mason is small lad and needs to strengthen up a little, but his attitude is spot on and he is capable of some superb pieces of skill. On one occasion, shortly after City had drawn level, he turned a couple of Hull defenders inside out and was unlucky to see a fierce shot well saved by Adriano Basso. Mackay has publicly said he intends to use Mason sparingly this season. The manager apparently views him as very much one for the future, but he's been forced into playing him because of the injury situation. Mason has responded well to the challenge and certainly hasn't looked out of place in the first team.Joe Ralls' goal was a quite brilliant effort and the rest of his game was decent enough too. He obviously needs more experience, but looks a strong lad for his age and some of the passes he played indicated that he has plenty of confidence, not to mention plenty of ablility. He is clearly a player with considerable potential who can only improve.Ben Turner's ten-minute stint as an emergency striker was impressive. He won everything in the air and looked composed with the ball at his feet. He also appeared a shade faster than any of the other centre-halves at the club. Provided he can stay fit, he looks a fine prospect.A return of sixteen points from the City's first ten league games is a pretty good start in a very competitive division, but it's more impressive when you consider that the Bluebirds have already played six of the current top eight sides.The international break has come along at just the right time and will hopefully give the players a chance to recover from the minor injuries that have sidelined them in recent weeks. It should also give the manager an opportuinity to strengthen the squad with a couple of loan players before the next game against Ipswich in a fortnight's time.
Related Cardiff City News