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Millwall reaction from NigelBlues
Published : 28 Sep 2010 07:53:32
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 1The 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.Alos added to match report.