So Close, Yet So Far Again For Cardiff

If Cardiff City could win their last regular home game of the season they would be assured of a place in the playoffs for a third consecutive season.

However, before a ball could be kicked, first there was the no small matter of paying official tribute to Eddie May the former much loved and respected Cardiff City manager, who sadly a week prior had passed away suddenly in his sleep. The club had consulted with his family and arranged the tributes in accordance with their wishes, so this was to be a celebration of the man who loved life and Cardiff City FC.

There was to be no minute of silence, but a minute of applause instead – It made sense as if Eddie had been there in person, on the centre of the pitch it’s what he would have happened. So with Eddie’s son and son in-law in attendance former Cardiff players along with (Rick Wright the former Cardiff City chairman who had promoted May to the role of manager) taking to the centre of the pitch to play homage and lay a wreath on the centre circle, the minute’s applause that followed continued for nearly three!Accompanied by chants of Eddie Mays barmy Army!

The Leeds united fans were an absolute credit to their club joining in the applause and the chanting of Eddie Mays name, which was a massive relief to the Bluebird faithful because when we had looked over at them a whole section of about twenty odd were dressed as St George displaying a flag between them which was worded something along the lines of that they had come to slay the Welsh dragon, it didn’t bode well, we all feared the worse, but what we got was glorious proof that when the situation arises, all of football is indeed one huge family – like most families a bit dysfunctional at times but in dark times the kinship comes to the fore.

So therefore I’d like to salute all those connected with Leeds United Football Club in attendance last Saturday at the Cardiff City Stadium and express on behalf of my fellow Bluebird faithful a massive thank you.

Onto the match itself, the first attack of the game was Cardiff’s; a Liam Lawrence shot that was parried by the Leeds ‘keeper before being hoofed away. City picked up the loose ball and Turner lofted it back into the Leeds half, former Bluebird favourite Ross McCormick challenged for the ball but he missed judged its flight and a clash of heads ensued and McCormick went down with a head injury so the referee halted play with Cardiff on the attack in a dangerous position.

A continuously frenetic first half was calmed by a lengthy stoppage to Leigh Bromby, who was stretchered off with a serious knee injury. At that point Malky Mackay made some tactical changes which made an immediate impact.

Some lovely deft touches from Whittingham, now on the left, linked up with Mason and caused Leeds all kind of problems. It was one such move which lead to the opening goal with Mason coolly side footing the ball over the Leeds goalkeeper Andy Lonergan and Cardiff City Stadium erupted with utter joy! My overjoyed companion lifted me off my feet and swung me round like a toddler would be by a drunken Uncle at a wedding! We all started to believe – really believe – we were heading for the play offs.

Chance after chance were created by the Bluebirds. Miller hit the woodwork Mason pounced on the rebound only for his shot to be scrambled off the line. Whittingham then rattled the crossbar, McPhail had a shot palmed over it, it was all City who were dominating the game, the halftime whistle we didn’t want to hear came….As it did the heavens opened on us!

The second half started with City slow out of the blocks, Marshall was called into action three times in quick succession but it still became party time for Cardiff supporters, mass Ayatollahing, chants of shoot and Eddie Mays Barmy Army broke out and reverberated around the stands.

Leeds made two changes and started to chase the game but still with twenty minutes to go, Neil Warnock was indebted to his goalkeeper for keeping his side in the match after he pulled off a wonderful save down to his left to deny Andrew Taylor’s well struck volley. The save proved even more vital a few minutes later, after Leeds managed to get in behind the Bluebirds defence, Snodgrass on the far right hand side made space for Paul Connolly who put in a superb cross that was met by the head of Luciano Becchio – Goal!

Bluebird hearts everywhere sank but heads didn’t go down. With the supporter’s cheers ringing in their ears City pushed forward attack after attack but the final killer ball was missing the final whistle blew, 1-1, it wasn’t enough to secure the play off place.

So all eyes would be on Middlesbrough v Southampton later in the day, the game started brightly for Cardiff City, Southampton took the lead but nerves struck them and Middlesbrough grabbed an equaliser it was end to end breathless stuff particularly for the watching Cardiff supporters. We could barely watch, when Fox fouled Jutkiewicz and Zemmama stepped up to bend an unstoppable shot into the top corner we collectively wished we hadn’t!

It’s an odd feeling, everything is still all in our own hands but twice in one day we were sure City were already safely there, but twice it was snatched away from us… Now there’s a definite feeling of first date nerves amongst Cardiff supporters who are eager and excited but with a nagging feeling in the back of the mind that can’t be pushed away. The feeling that it could all go horribly wrong. So Cardiff City go into the decider at Crystal Palace on Saturday needing  just a point… We can do it, we have to!

This time it’s our year and we all have to believe it. It’s time we all rally and believe, time to put the all negativity away! Yes there are some things which aren’t quite working but that’s been the case for much of the season and look what the teams achieved, the time for debate is after the season is all over for Cardiff City and not before!!