Tag Archive | Playoffs

West Ham 3 Cardiff City 0 (West Ham win 5-0 on aggregate)

Well that’s not the end of the season that any of us would have wanted, but even the most optimistic of Cardiff fans would have accepted that two legs versus West Ham would be very difficult.

Having said that, I for one certainly didn’t expect us to finish anywhere near the dizzy heights of the playoffs this season following the vast amounts of changes that took place in the summer. So all in all I actually would call this season of ‘transition’ a huge success.

The Bluebirds made a good start and should have had a penalty when Winston Reid clumsily fouled Kenny Miller in the box. However, after this rare opportunity it was all one way traffic and West Ham extended their advantage from the first leg 15 minutes in. Carlton Cole’s initial header from a corner was blocked only for the ball to fall for Kevin Nolan to nod in.

Gary O’Neil came close to extending the home sides lead when his side-foot volley struck the top of the bar, but Ricardo Vaz Te did find the back of the net shortly after. His fiercely-struck shot flew across the helpless David Marshall and into the top corner of the goal.

The second half was something of a practice match for the Hammers who were extremely comfortable with their four-goal lead. So much is their strength in depth that they were able to bring on the quality of Nicky Maynard and true to form the substitute smashed the ball past Marshall to finish the route.

The Hammers deserved their 5-0 aggregate lead over the two legs and in all honesty it could have easily been more. City looked tired and outclassed and I thoroughly expect West Ham to win the final now. In fact I hope they do so we don’t have to play them again next season!

Cardiff lost out to Reading at the semi-final stage last year, were beaten 3-2 by Blackpool in the 2010 final and narrowly missed the playoffs in 2009 by a single goal scored. We may have missed out yet again but this season’s defeat doesn’t feel as bitter.

The team have finished higher than expected in the league, reached the Carling Cup final only to miss out on penalties, and showed a lot more grit and passion than previous teams. I think Malky Mackay has done a fantastic job since joining the club in the summer and hopefully he can guide us a step further next season.

West Ham United

  • 01 Green
  • 02 Reid Booked
  • 05 Tomkins
  • 20 Demel
  • 04 Nolan (McCartney – 69′ )
  • 10 Collison (Lansbury – 48′ )
  • 14 Taylor
  • 16 Noble
  • 32 O’Neil
  • 09 Cole (Maynard – 86′ )
  • 12 Vaz Te

Substitutes

  • 13 Henderson
  • 03 McCartney
  • 18 Faubert
  • 22 Lansbury
  • 08 Maynard

Cardiff City

  • 01 Marshall
  • 02 McNaughton (Blake – 81′ )
  • 03 Taylor
  • 05 Hudson Booked
  • 25 Turner
  • 07 Whittingham Booked
  • 13 Lawrence
  • 17 Gunnarsson
  • 37 McPhail (Cowie – 76′ )
  • 09 Miller Booked (Kiss – 76′ )
  • 20 Mason

Substitutes

  • 22 Heaton
  • 04 Kiss
  • 08 Cowie
  • 23 Blake
  • 10 Earnshaw
Ref: Dean
Att: 34,682
All photos are my own

Cardiff City 0 West Ham 2

Well that’s that then. Another season all but over and what will now surely be another defeat in the playoffs for City.

Yes I know there is another leg yet to play but West Ham’s Premiership squad will not let a two goal lead slip, especially at Upton Park. Having said that, I’ll still be there on Monday and if Cardiff can perform a miracle then I will gladly eat my words.

Sam Allardyce’s side were expected to claim one of the automatic promotion places and return to the Premier League at the first time of asking, only to be pipped by Reading and Southampton. So it’s no surprise they beat us really and in fact it should have been more.

Cardiff were unfortunate to be drawn against a strong West Ham side in the playoffs

Cardiff started the game brightly and nearly drew first blood when Peter Whittingham’s shot was deflected just over the bar, then Kenny Miller forced a save from Rob Green in the West Ham goal.

But it was the Hammers who took the lead when Ricardo Vaz Te beat the offside trap on the left before pulling the ball back for Jack Collison. The Welshman’s initial effort was parried by David Marshall but was able to nod the rebound into the net.

Jack Collison celebrates his first goal

That setback in the ninth minute seemed to rattle the Bluebirds, who were lucky not to concede a second soon after. First Liam Lawrence dawdled in the area, allowing Vaz Te to dispossess him in a dangerous position, and then James Tomkins was allowed a free header at the back post that went just wide.

David Marshall punches a ball clear as the Hammers press for a second

Miller went close with one of Cardiff’s few chances; we only had three attempts on target the whole game, before Ben Turner denied Carlton Cole a shot on goal.

However from the resulting corner, Vaz Te flicked the ball on at the near post and, although Turner cleared the initial danger, the ball fell perfectly for Collison to fire in for West Ham’s second, although his shot took a wicked deflection off Lawrence.

Ben Turner tries to head home from one of Cardiff’s few chances

The Bluebirds had chances to reduce the deficit in the second half but Miller’s efforts continued to miss the target, and Turner saw his looping header cleared off the line by Cole. The visitors were still creating the better opportunities though and Kevin Nolan should have really put the tie beyond City but he headed wide from 10 yards out.

Cardiff will need a miracle to overturn the deficit in the second leg at Upton Park

I’ve always said that on our day we can beat anyone in this division, it’s just West Ham are such a well organised team with bags of talent that I cannot see us scoring the goals we need. I really hope I’m wrong…

Cardiff City

  • 01 Marshall
  • 03 Taylor
  • 05 Hudson
  • 25 Turner
  • 07 Whittingham
  • 08 Cowie (McPhail – 74′ )
  • 13 Lawrence
  • 17 Gunnarsson
  • 23 Blake
  • 09 Miller (Earnshaw – 74′ )
  • 20 Mason

Substitutes

  • 22 Heaton
  • 06 Gerrard
  • 04 Kiss
  • 37 McPhail
  • 10 Earnshaw

West Ham United

  • 01 Green
  • 02 Reid
  • 05 Tomkins Booked
  • 20 Demel (Faubert – 75′ Booked )
  • 04 Nolan Booked
  • 10 Collison (Maynard – 86′ )
  • 14 Taylor
  • 16 Noble Booked
  • 32 O’Neil
  • 09 Cole
  • 12 Vaz Te (McCartney – 60′ )

Substitutes

  • 13 Henderson
  • 03 McCartney
  • 15 Faye
  • 18 Faubert
  • 08 Maynard
Ref: Swarbrick
Att: 23,029
Permission for pictures given by Jon Candy

Crystal Palace 1 Cardiff City 2 Phew…

At the start of this season I, like many others, expected a season of mid-table mediocrity for Cardiff. Yet yesterdays win at Selhurst Park meant a third consecutive finish in the playoff places in a season that we also reached our first ever Carling Cup final. This is a massive achievement and credit to Malky Mackay and his players who have been superb this season.

City fans travelled to Palace in numbers knowing that a win or draw would guarantee us a top six finish and the Bluebirds started the game brightly with Joe Mason having the first good chance. Liam Lawrence’s 20-yard drive was spilled by Palace keeper Lewis Price but he was up quickly to deny Mason’s follow up.

My view of the Selhurst Park pitch prior to kick-off

But it was the home side that took the lead against the run of play. Wilfred Zaha played the ball to Darren Ambrose before racing onto the midfielder’s defence-splitting through pass to finish under the advancing David Marshall. This made things a lot nervier for City as a Middlesbrough win with us losing would have meant dropping out of the playoff places.

The Cardiff faithful remained in fine voice and Price kept out headers from Mason and Mark Hudson before half-time. Kenny Miller went close in the second period when his drive went just wide of the far post but the Bluebirds took the lead shortly after. Peter Whittingham curled in a free-kick from the tightest of angles on 53 minutes. This was the midfielder’s 13th goal of the season and there was a massive sigh of relief from the away end. I ended up celebrating with two lads in the row in front who came dressed as Mr Blobby and a chicken which was different to say the least.

Cardiff were much the better side and should have won by more really

The pressure was somewhat lifted nine minutes later when the Bluebirds took a deserved lead. Hudson flicked on Aron Gunnarsson’s long throw to Don Cowie who volleyed into the bottom corner of the Palace net. This is the first time this season that Cardiff have come from 1-0 to win a game and the players and manager looked jubilant on the pitch at full-time.

Cardiff players came over to celebrate with fans after the final whistle

So playoffs it is then. We are the only one of the four sides who weren’t in the Premiership last season and it’s going to be a difficult task. However, we are unbeaten in 10 and have won four of our last six matches so we’re going into the games in fine form. Cardiff have now finished in the playoffs for the last three seasons and although we’ve failed in the last two, this time we are going in as the underdogs which is a status we always seem to thrive off. Hopefully this is the case and we can reach a Wembley final for the second time this year.

Crystal Palace

  • 34 Price
  • 05 McCarthy
  • 21 Moxey
  • 26 Parsons Booked
  • 04 Parr
  • 07 Ambrose (De Silva – 73′ )
  • 10 Garvan Booked
  • 28 O’Keefe
  • 11 Scannell (Pedroza – 54′ )
  • 16 Zaha
  • 17 Murray

Substitutes

  • 40 Fitzsimons
  • 22 Wynter
  • 36 De Silva
  • 25 Pedroza
  • 27 Sekajja

Cardiff City

  • 01 Marshall
  • 02 McNaughton (Blake – 72′ )
  • 03 Taylor
  • 05 Hudson
  • 25 Turner
  • 07 Whittingham
  • 08 Cowie
  • 13 Lawrence
  • 17 Gunnarsson Booked
  • 09 Miller Booked (Gestede – 79′ )
  • 20 Mason (Earnshaw – 90′ )

Substitutes

  • 22 Heaton
  • 23 Blake
  • 37 McPhail
  • 10 Earnshaw
  • 15 Gestede
Ref: Mason
Att: 15,510
All photos taken by myself

It’s Never Dull Being a Cardiff Fan

I went to my first City game at Ninian Park back when I was six years old and ever since I’ve been hooked. I have seen the club gain one promotion and reach three Wembley finals, but we’ve fallen short every time we come close to reaching the big time.

By this I mean reaching the Premier League or winning either the FA or Carling Cup, and all three of these we’ve come so close to doing in the last four years. We lost the FA Cup final to Premiership Portsmouth by a single goal. Again against Blackpool in the playoff final we lost by one goal and in this year’s Carling Cup final the mighty (or at least once mighty) Liverpool could only just beat us on penalties.

My Cardiff tickets in the shape of the Bluebirds badge sent by my creative mum which looks great to be fair. I would have at least another hundred if it wasn't for those new cards

For a Championship club to reach these finals is itself amazing but when will we actually stop knocking on the door and step over that elusive line. This season we look set to finish in the playoff places for a third consecutive year but for the first time I honestly cannot see us winning the playoffs. I don’t think we’re playing well enough and the other three teams will be favourites ahead of us.

Will we be playing at Wembley for the second time this season come the playoff final?

But will this help us? For some reason Cardiff always seem to raise their game against the ‘bigger’ clubs and the underdog status may benefit us. I hope this is the case anyway as I would love to see us losing 4-0 to Manchester City next year, and that is no word of a lie. First of all we have to not lose our last game of the season against Palace on Saturday to guarantee ourselves a place in the top six. Hopefully we can at least do that.

Here’s a link showing ticket prices for the game at Palace on Saturday, I’ll be there to support the boys.

http://www.cardiffcityfc.co.uk/page/AwayTickets/0,,10335~2721883,00.html

All pictures are my own