Cardiff 0-0 Millwall ~ Match Report

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The games are now fast running out and with home form looking decidedly dodgy to say the least, all thoughts were focused on the away fixtures and next up for the Lions was a short trip along the M4 to Cardiff.

Not an easy game by any stretch of the imagination but certainly not one to fear. Cardiff’s new stadium, this was our second visit, is a palace compared to the old ninian park and this certainly has influence on the players.

Me and MrsB decided to leave the Bonemobile at home for this one as petrol nonsense strike talk sort of forced our hand so we plumped for coach travel with the official Kings Ferry brigade.

This idea would normally strike fear and horror into the most amiable of away fans but I have to say despite reservations the experience was not as grim as you might imagine. Sure there were some obvious candidates for fitting the coach 1 stereotype but believe me, if you go to the same amount of away games we do, they don’t just turn up on coach 1…

The journey was not without its difficulties, we had barely got onto the M4 when the coach got pulled over by a VOSA patrol for going over a section restricted for vehicles over 7.5 tonnes. The woman officer was a female equivalent of a Schutz-Staffel officer and took great delight in a) letting us know she knew we were Millwall fans and b) she would be keeping us for a long wait and c) hoped we wouldn’t miss the match.

You know it doesn’t help when this sort of attitude is met with a load of abuse but she deserved every word directed at her. Certain readers will know what I mean when I recall a similar woman on a Eurostar train from an old MISA trip to Belgium…

But Frau Himmler was soon done dispensing huge fines to driver and we were off on the road to the Welsh capital, city of culture and garden of the valleys or as it is known everywhere else, the shit hole.

We arrived in good time and went inside and as I said before it is an impressive stadium, the stewards are almost over friendly to the point of oleaginousness but it makes a change from the usual hard arse approach.

The food and drink was well managed and the whole thing was much sanitised and that’s a word you would never have found being used for a trip to Cardiff before. More oddness ensued before the kick-off when the stadium announcer paid tribute to Barry Kitchener and the whole ground joined in with spontaneous applause long before the announcer asked for it. Fair play to the Cardiff fans, it was very well received by the Millwall fans and rightly so.

Now onto the football and Mr Jackett had picked a team to do a job and there is no room for sentiment now. Taylor stays as first choice ‘keeper, Craig, Lowry, Robbo and Smith were the back four, Henry, Abdou, Wright and Feeney took care of the midfield berths and we had Kane and Keogh as our striking pair.

Referee Bates got the game under way and I would like to wax lyrical about the stupendous football on show but the truth is those following the game on ceefax would have enjoyed it more. Both teams seemed to nullify each other and although the game ebbed and flowed from one end to the other there was not too much action taking place.

We had an early free kick that James Henry, busy as a bee again, took but missed and he had another half-hearted shot that missed the target but all the hard work was being done by the crowd, especially the Lions fans, which were doing their best to create an atmosphere in the strangely silent stadium.

It seemed like the home fans were in some sort of belladonnic haze, preferring to sit quietly whilst the game was being played, their only contribution to any atmosphere was to laugh politely at the frenzied insults being levelled at them from the travelling contingent.

I had to shake my head in disbelief when they finally decided to have a go back chanting “you’re just a bunch of pikies”. Fuck me sideways, the irony was lost on them. They would love to be as far up the social ladder as that, they are welsh, for fuck’s sake. Being a pikie to a Welshman is like winning the lottery.

I am deliberately digressing, dear reader, because as stated already, the first 45 was a bit of a bore fest. We did have a couple of seconds of panic when Taylor did a fine impression of a Forde punch that saw the resulting loose ball hit goal wards but thankfully Robbo was on hand to clear the lines.

It was all huff and puff for the remainder of the half but when the whistle went to close down the first forty five the nil nil score line was not without its merits.

The second half saw the home side come out with a bit more gumption and the opening ten minutes or so was played mostly in our half, but Taylor was on fine form tipping over a header and then shepherding the ball out to safety from a Miller header that should really have found the back of the net.

Miller again had a chance to open the scoring but his shot was woefully inept by anybody’s standards and then Whittingham hit a free kick that was always going wide but the warning signs were clearly there and a resolute Millwall defence didn’t falter under this sustained pressure and the back four worked tirelessly to keep out the marauding Welshmen.

We weathered the early storm though and started to get back at them and when Robbo met the ball with a strong header it fell to the feet of the ever impressive Keogh who nimbly turned his marker and fired an inviting low ball across the box that Marshall did very well to cut out, the Cardiff ‘keeper earning his leeks on this occasion.

Shortly after this Mr Jackett decided to change things and on came top goal scorer Henderson, replacing Harry Kane who to be fair had given it a good go but clearly Mr Jackett was erring on the side of caution now as we switched to a 4-5-1 formation with Keogh dropping back into midfield.

With about fifteen minutes still to play we thought we had taken the lead when a well worked move that saw Craig deliver a telling ball into their six yard box and there was Keogh to stab it home but the linesman had his flag raised for off side and from our end it was impossible to tell so we have to accept that he got it right albeit through gritted teeth as the welsh windbags made fun of our premature celebrations.

But the lads kept up the good work and it was Keogh again who tested the abilities of Marshall as he forced out a fine save from a lovely chipped effort from the busy Millwall striker.

We then had a chance to reciprocate the taunting from the home fans when they had a goal chalked out for a somewhat dubious infringement but as Gunnerson headed the ball into the net the lino on the other side from us raised his flag immediately and a free kick was given.

The final few minutes of the game saw us have the chance to nick the result but as the effervescent James Henry still had something left in his tank, he raced after a 60/40 ball that he had no right to reach before ‘keeper Marshall, but reach it he did and as he popped it past the out rushing Marshall we watched as the ball went agonisingly wide of the post and out for a goal kick.

Ward came on for a ridiculous 30 second cameo as Mr Jackett tried to run down the clock but it soon ended as referee Bates (who I thought had a pretty good game) called time. The only dodgy decision from bates was booking Henry for simulation which is twice in a row now for Henry so he better be on his best behaviour from now on as he is getting a bit of a reputation as a diver but in my humble opinion, both times he has been fouled but over egged the pudding so to speak, making it look like a pantomime prat fall.

So 0-0 it finished and a decent away point for the Lions but now we concentrate on the next home game, Hull City come to the Den next Saturday which will be an emotional game as I am sure the powers that be will have a tribute for Barry Kitchener planned and with that in mind there is every reason to suspect a big home crowd will turn out as well so a lot at stake and emotions will be running high and it would be a perfect time to get that 1000 home win milestone tagged and get our first home win of 2012 ticked off as well.

I will see you all there.
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