Millwall 0-2 Cardiff ~ Match Musings

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Oh Christ on a cross, this isnít getting any easier to do. It is no secret; we lost again, at home, with a whimper and casual shrug of the shoulders.

I was looking forward to getting to the game, to get ready to brush away the awful memory of the Hull debacle and like the fat fool that I am, I thought we might actually beat the welsh rarebits.

We got there quite late, for us, but the streets around the ground were sparsely populated and it was no different inside the Den. Mid week games used to see a decent turn out (or is my mind playing tricks on me?), people rushing straight from work, grabbing a bite to eat, all anticipating the hopeful enjoyment of watching the Lions rack up some points...itís all gone you know...all gone.

Cardiff fans were, it has to be said, were a disappointment. Another once volatile set of fans reduced to inane sing song behaviour, trotting out the already tired repertoire of the professional happy clappy brigade, these Welsh wind bags are about as intimidating as a Hobbit with an ingrown toe nail. The original men of Harlech will be miffed to know that their southern counterparts from the valleys have the audacity to hum the fucking song that glorifies their endeavours but canít be arsed to learn the words.

A rather muted 9,000 odd finally got inside to see what Jackett had decided to do. The truth is, he couldnít really do too much, and as such radical thinking as making wholesale changes would have gone down like a lead balloon.

He went 4-4-2. Taylor kept his place in goal, Robbo was injured again so Dunne came back in on the right, Osborne and Lowry were in the centre back position with Malone on the left. The rest was as per the Hull game, Trotter as captain, Wright, Abdou and Henry making the midfield quartet with Henderson and Keogh as the front two.

Referee Hooper, a stout, almost rotund figure, got the game going and in retrospect, we actually didnít do much wrong for the first forty five minutes. WE had some good chances to open the scoring, henry had a shot blocked and Abdou, of all people, hit a stonker of a shot that was well saved by Marshall in the Bluebirds (or is it red birds now?) goal.

Trotter hit a shot that just crept over the bar and it wasnít looking too shabby. Then we gave away a dubious free kick out on the left flank and from the resulting free kick from Whittingham the ball flew over everyone including Taylor and hit the back of the net. Referee Hooper, however, had blown for an infringement and to our relief the goal was scrubbed out.

We quickly got back into our stride and with Lowry and Osborne actually looking like a defensive partnership; we were stifling the expensive ensemble that was playing for the visitors. In fact, because of this Malone felt comfortable enough to go on a few mazy runs, one of which ended in a forty yard dribble that deserved a better ending, his shot missing the target comfortably.

Malone was back in the action soon after this, sending over a decent corner that had the Cardiff defence scrambling around all over the place. The ball was only partially cleared and it fell to Osborne whose hooked shot just went the wrong side of the post with Marshall well beaten.

So, as I say, the first half was not too shabby at all, even finishing with another Marshall save from a Keogh half hit effort. It all seemed to bode well for a positive second half...

Now I have no idea what the team talk consisted of but I do hope that it was recorded so that in future it is never repeated again. Admittedly it looked like Cardiff had moved up a couple of gears but to start with we still looked capable of getting the first goal, even if it was getting a bit drab. Even another beautiful tackle come assassination attempt by Lowry on one of their lot, although lifting our spirits, wasnít enough for paltry crowd to get too excited about.

About ten minutes in a cross field ball from Trotter saw Henry race towards it, just inside their half but he just missed the connection by a fraction of an inch, a clear route to goal beckoning in front of him. We barely had time to rue the missed opportunity as Cardiff took the ball straight up the other end and when Noone squared the ball across the front of our area we watched in abject misery as Whittingham curled, it has to said, a delightful shot far into the top corner, Taylor well beaten. 0-1.

I recall saying at the time that the body language of our lot looked wrong. The ball was taken back to the centre circle but the heads were dropping and there was no semblance of fist clenching encouragement from any of our team whatsoever. No cajoling, no talking, no nothing really.

I felt then that we will either ship in another quick goal or the penny will drop and we will go in to them all guns blazing. I have no doubt that Jackett mustíve wanted his team to show a bit of grit and determination to get back on level terms but seriously, standing with your arms crossed and sighing inwardly is not really going to get your message across...
Before we knew what was happening and less than two minutes later the defence went to sleep and we stared incredulously as Noone collected a straight forward pass from Smith to slot home their second goal. 0-2. It was effectively game over.

Jackett responded, of course he had to, with a quick change of personnel, a double substitution saw Wright and Henderson come off and Taylor C and new loan signing Wood come on to replace them. It made no odds, the damage was done and although the two new boys looked keen and they both tried hard, we were never going to get back into the game.

We managed to pass, pass, pass, pass and then pass a bit more but the visitors had us under control and were quite happy for us to retain possession. There was never going to be an end result and they knew it. The ground, already half empty soon became a quarter empty as disgruntled fans made their way out and homeward bound, not bothering to see the final death throes carried out.

Four minutes of added time just prolonged the agony and as the whistle went and the boos rang out, we wandered off into the cold night to wonder just what is going to happen next.

Brighton at home is what and they will bring about 2,500 happy clappers with them, it is going to be a hard afternoons work watching us try and get something out of this game. The first ten games are slowly ticking away now and unless we start to accumulate some points soon, we are going to be propping up the league table.

Mr Jackett has got some work to do, I think...

"Of all base passions, fear is the most accursed". - (King Henry V1 part 1 Act V, Scene II).
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