Andy Munro reports on Sunday’s game at St Andrews.
It was a chance to bounce back from the Pompey reverse but, in truth, while we blew the opportunity of three points we actually didn’t deserve more than a share of the spoils.
It’s not that Cardiff were outstanding, they were merely competent while we were just poor, particularly in the first half. In my view Chris H picked the wrong team and, just before I launch into a full scale whinge, I wish to make it clear that I think he’s generally done an excellent job and I wouldn’t swop him for any other. However, that doesn’t mean to say he’s infallible and shouldn’t be subject to some criticism when it’s warranted.
Firstly Myhill looked shaky and as Cardiff tossed in long throws a la Delap, he failed to really command his area, leaving clearances to a rather uncertain back four. Let’s face it, Blues have leaked some goals recently so why not give Doylie a whirl? In the centre Davies and Caldwell pick themselves although at times they made hard work of a fairly average Cardiff attack with Miller and Earnshaw surprisingly confined to the bench.
With both full backs out, why play a right sided central defender at left back and an ungainly centre half at right back? To me, we should have played either one of our young fullbacks, Chris H jr or perhaps Wade Elliot, a sensible mobile player who can play wide. Time and time again, Ramage and Ibanez were playing too narrow and allowing the Cardiff wide players to run with the ball.
Midfield was little better. Again I would have played Gomes or Elliott (centrally) alongside N’Daw in the absence of the presumably injured Fahey. This would have given us much needed stability and N’Daw more support instead of an overly casual Jordan M who seems to wander around midfield as he pleases, at a pace he pleases, and in truth has become Mutch of a mutchness.
Our width on the left was non-existent without Townsend or Redmond and the Elliott/Ramage combo was the epitome of disjointedness. Burke also struggled early on as his former team mates had obviously read the script many times before. Up front, Marlon King battled in vain with Huseklepp completely anonymous in the first half, not helping our attacking potency by frequently drifting out wide in frustration.
In fairness, the second half was better – it had to be – and we started to look a force going forward with Burke starting to assert himself and Huseklepp suddenly looking fleet of foot. When he was brought down in the area, it was set for Marlon K to take centre stage but unfortunately it was a case of, “He misses penalties, M’Lord.” Despite that setback, it seemed we were about to reap some undeserved rewards when following good work from Burke, Huseklepp swept the ball home only to be somewhat bizarrely substituted. This was the first of three substitutions with none of them unfortunately involving game-changing personnel in the shape of Nathan R or Ziggy.
Cardiff continued to plug away and our difficulty in dealing with long throws lead to our downfall as their skipper blasted home an equaliser following some less than authoritative work from our defence.
It’s now fairly clear that if we are to make the play offs, we’ve got to recapture our fluency and form the hard way – away from home. I certainly think that using Nathan and Ziggy has to be part of any winning equation together with the return of pukka full backs. Let’s hope it transpires accordingly.