Hardly a chance created at Cardiff
There was just the one change for the Clarets with James O’Connor coming in to replace Richard Chaplow who was on the bench, and not on his way to West Brom as some were suggesting on the terracing.
Terracing – yes, it is a ground caught in something of a time warp but there weren’t many complaints from the Burnley fans who were taking the only opportunity all season to stand. It is what most football fans still want to do and the pressure to get a return for terracing must continue.
There’s an almost ‘Community singing’ period prior to the game but I’m not sure why Tiny Tim’s ‘Tiptoe through the Tulips’ appears to be Cardiff’s ‘Amarillo’. There was no sign though of Arthur Caiger.
They made us feel at home, it threw it down from the time we got there until the time we left although unlike the Turf there was no surface water to be seen other than puddles on the car park.
It was a strange sort of game in that we dominated it from start to finish in terms of possession and at no stage did the home side ever get on top, yet we struggled to create enough and for much of the game it did look as though we would complete it without scoring.
Cardiff did actually start the brighter of the two sides and former Claret Alan Lee tested Brian Jensen with a low shot before an effort from distance almost caught out the Beast who was off his line, it thankfully just about cleared the bar.
There was to be no escape though as the home side took an early lead and it was all down to bad work on our part than anything created by Cardiff. A ball down their right was chased by Alan Lee but he was never in with a shout of getting it with Mo Camara in full control.
Unfortunately Mo chose to pass it back to Jensen and got it horribly wrong, it was too short although the keeper did get to it first but feet first and his attempt at clearing it hit the oncoming Lee and bounced straight to Richard Langley who had an open goal.
Both players were at fault and Mo turned on the Beast but really the first of the mistakes, and the bigger one, came from the full back.
It proved to be something of a turning point because Cardiff’s best spell of the game was now over and it was Burnley who to dominate from now on.
We looked assured enough at the back on the rare occasions Cardiff threatened us and had control of the midfield area but you just wondered where a goal might come from.
It nearly did come from Lee Roche who had the best chance of the first half when we attacked down the left hand side. The ball across found Roche wide of the far post and he looked to have the simplest of chances but put his shot wide.
That was it for the first half but we really should not have been behind despite not playing particularly well.
Roche went to full back, Branch on the left of midfield with Jean-Louis Valois moving onto the right. Valois, he had such a good game against Liverpool but this afternoon describing his performance as inept would be paying him too high a compliment.
The game was over by the time we finally took him off but his attitude down that right hand side in front of our fans was nowhere near what we should expect.
Things just carried on as they had in the first half with Burnley doing all the pressing although we were guilty of giving the ball away too often. Mind you, when we did you could guarantee that Cardiff would immediately do likewise.
Despite all the play though it was Cardiff who came closest to scoring when Andy Campbell broke clear after a rare Tony Grant error. John McGreal got back to win the ball superbly.
They did double their lead though eventually and it was somewhat cruel on the Clarets when a Graham Kavanagh shot from distance deflected off Gary Cahill and beat a motionless Jensen.
We immediately went up to eleven players with Chappy coming on for Valois and the rest of the game was played virtually in and around the Cardiff penalty box. The nearest we came to scoring was from a free kick on the edge of the box on the right hand side.
Goalkeeper Neil Alexander saved from Camara but the ball dropped to Branchy who somehow from just a few feet out was unable to turn the ball home and Alexander was able to collect at the second attempt.
That was it and a first defeat of 2005 and a performance that shows just what is wrong with the squad. We haven’t scored many goals all season and have been far too reliant on Robbie Blake. He’s gone now and worryingly there are likely to be more afternoons like this.
Ian Moore is our lone striker now and hasn’t scored a goal since September, a shot off target was the nearest he came today.
We will certainly need to strengthen the squad in that respect and the manager said he had tried to bring someone in on loan. We need to do that, and we need to do it quickly, this was a game we really should have won.
Tony Grant was my man of the match today with Micah Hyde not far behind him – our midfield did well despite coming up against the likes of Kavanagh and Junichi Inamoto although Chappy’s ability to get forward was badly missed.
Finally a word on referee Trevor Kettle. I feared the worst given this man’s record but he didn’t have too bad a game. Worryingly though I think he would struggle with a difficult game, he looks hardly fit enough to be refereeing at this level and isn’t the most mobile.
The teams were,
Cardiff: Neil Alexander, Rhys Weston, Danny Gabbidon, James Collins, Chris Barker (Tony Vidmar 71), Graham Kavanagh, Richard Langley, Jobi McAnuff, Junichi Inamoto, Andy Campbell (Joe Ledley 71), Alan Lee. Subs not used: Tony Warner, Lee Bullock, Stuart Fleetwood.
Burnley: Brian Jensen, Frank Sinclair (Graham Branch 49), Gary Cahill, John McGreal, Mo Camara, Lee Roche, Micah Hyde, Tony Grant, James O’Connor, Jean-Louis Valois (Richard Chaplow 76), Ian Moore. Subs not used: Danny Coyne, Joel Pilkington, Matt O’Neill.
Referee: Trevor Kettle (Berkshire).