Just over six hundred Bluebird faithful made their way to the Millwall ground, on a chilly Tuesday night in the knowledge that Craig Bellamy would be playing no part in game, due to the play and rest policy which was also deployed during his last tenure at Cardiff City and that it was September 5th 1982 the last time The Bluebirds had beaten The Lions away, but the supporters were in great spirits feeling that was one run that would be coming to an end that Cardiff would be too strong for a Millwall team that was struggling to find its feet.
Indeed it was Cardiff City that launched the first meaningful attack of the game, some neat interplay between Tommy Smith and Jordon Mutch created a chance for Craig Noone on the left wing to send a cross into the box, but his centre was cut out at the near post just failing to reach, Maynard lurking in the six yard box.
At the other end newly signed free agent and City old boy, Andy Keogh was set up by Lions captain Liam Trotter. Keogh’s shot at goal, however lacked any real power – it was easily blocked by Bluebirds captain Mark Hudson, but this move spurred Millwall on into a sustained period of pressure upon David Marshall’s goal; Darius Henderson spun past Matthew Connolly before squaring the ball to Henry, Andrew Taylor prevented the low shot from crossing the line with a fine block before hacking the ball away and it fell to Jimmy Abdou whose long range effort was comfortably saved by Marshall. There was another anxious moment for Cardiff when Liam Trotter’s shot from the edge of the box beat Marshall but the ball shaved the bar, much to the relief of City player and supporters alike
Tommy Smith, who was operating very well down the right flank, soon won a free kick at the other end. Peter Whittingham stood over the ball wide on the right-hand side of the pitch and stepped up to smash it superbly into the far top corner, mayhem in amongst the City supporters till a voice shouted the referee had disallowed the goal for what it has since been determined to be an alleged shirt pull.
It has to be said that neither I, nor anyone around me, saw anything wrong nor did any of the media men in attendance. As one of the features of modern day football came into play a running commentary between the Cardiff City commentators and supporters on twitter confirmed no one had seen any foul, although we did all hold our hands up to have been watching the ball and Whittingham.
An uneasy feeling of here we go again descended on the Bluebird faithful, fearful this was going to be just one of those nights like so many before down the years.
Nicky Maynard was again proving to be a thorn in the defenders side, his pace and tireless work rate coupled with silky skills. Playing the lone striker role he was all over the park and set up McNaughton on the right hand side from a jinking mazy run, the silver Fox crossed into the box, Mutch met the cross, but his flicked header was just wide.
The final attacking move of the first half fell to Millwall, after centre back Karleigh Osborne hooked the ball wide of the post from just outside the box. To the Cardiff’s amazement the referee gave the Lions a free kick 25 yards out, adjudging that Matthew Connolly had brought down Andy Keogh off the ball. James Henry stepped up to take the free kick his curled shot was bound for the bottom right corner, but Marshall got down well and parried the ball away.
The second half had barely got under way when Alan Dunne was booked for hacking down Craig Noone, in less than a minute team mate Shane Lowry joined him in the referee’s book – for a rough house tackle on Maynard – the resulting free kick was played short then broke to Craig Noone who was rushed by the Millwall defence and could only fire wide with his weaker right foot, but Noone was about to atone himself, picking up the ball on the left he cut inside and squared the ball to Whittingham, who seeing the Millwall midfield backing off, Whitts unleashed a sublime curled shot, the ball swerved and dipped before it crashed into the top corner of the Millwall goal past a totally bamboozled Maik Taylor.
In a sensational couple of minutes the Bluebirds doubled their lead. Tommy Smith fed Noone the ball on the left hand side of the box, and this time the young winger made no mistake allowed the time to take the ball on his favoured right foot Noone curled the ball low in to the far corner in front of the Bluebird supporters -causing mass exuberance in the away supporters’ ranks.
Kenny Jacket responded with a double substitution for Millwall: Chris Taylor on for Josh Wright and new signing Chris Wood on for Darius Henderson.
A great block by the City captain Mark Hudson of a long drive by Comoros international Jimmy Abdou prevented the Lions from pulling one back. Soon after, Nicky Maynard crumpled under a challenge by Karleigh Osborne and immediately looked in trouble, his face contorted with pain and pointing to the back of his neck after lengthy treatment Maynard was stretchered off to the sound of Millwall fans booing, to be replaced by Heidar Helguson. It was confirmed later after scan results, exactly what the Cardiff fans had feared when seeing him clutching the back of his knee, that Maynard has torn his anterior cruciate ligament. The injury will require surgery and will see Maynard looking at maybe a possible return towards the end of the season.
The Bluebird faithful and City players were subdued after Maynard’s exit, the striker will be a massive lost to The Bluebirds, he has been a very welcome addition to the team, gelling immediately with the supporters a genuinely nice guy, with his skill, pace and good footballing brain, fitting the bill exactly for the obvious shortcomings last season and the dawn of this, everyone at Cardiff City wish him a full and speedy recovery.
Peter Whittingham exchanged a one-two with Tommy Smith who unleashed a powerful volley which appeared to be goal-bound, but somehow Millwall blocked it and hoofed the ball clear of danger, Cardiff still stunned by Maynard’s departure were pegged back and forced to absorb pressure in the last ten minutes, but The Lions struggled to carve out a genuine goal scoring opportunity, however, while City remained a threat on the break.
Millwall brought on Shaun Batt for James Henry, Malky Mackay Sent on Kim Bo-Kyung on for Craig Noone. The excited chants of “Do the Ayatollah Kimbo!” Rang out from the away supporters – This was the City supporters first glimpse of new signing South Korea international and Olympian Kim Bo-Kyung, but his only real contribution to the game was to finally Ayatollah the Cardiff City fans, after quite some prompting from Andrew Taylor. The game petered out in the last eight minutes and finished 0-2.