Cardiff City 0 - 1 Plymouth Argyle
Report by Tim Crompton
Cardiff City appeared as if they were still hung-over from Christmas. It was obvious that they weren’t up for the game in the warm up; with them not getting a single shot on target in shooting practice. Plymouth Argyle started the better, having most of the early possession and Cardiff unable to put a decent touch on the ball.
The best chance of the half fell to Plymouth, with Reda Johnson firing wide from a free volley. Mark Hudson responded for Cardiff, getting up to meet Peter Whittingham’s in swinging free kick. This produced a fine save out of Romain Larrieu. Whittingham took the resultant corner short and on the return pass he hit a deflected cross that looped over the Plymouth defence giving Hudson another chance to take his team into the lead. But the Cardiff captain couldn’t connect with the ball and the chance went begging.
Alan Judge was the next to test a keeper. A poor Cardiff clearance fell to him on the edge of the box. He released a stinging shot that was heading to the bottom corner of the goal until David Marshall dived and parried the ball away.
The first half had provided little quality and entertainment. Cardiff were lifeless and the game had suffered for it. Plymouth were trying, but on the evidence they deserved they place at the foot of the table.
Dave Jones managed to recharge his team in the changing rooms and they came out the better team. Cardiff were playing their passes with more force and accuracy now and it showed when Whittingham raced through the Plymouth defence, but as he was closed down he squared the ball to Michael Chopra who only had the keeper to beat. But the striker, who hadn’t scored for 10 games, hit the ball over the bar. Plymouth slowly came back into the game, but Cardiff still dominated possession.
The chances were coming for Cardiff but they couldn’t score. Anthony Gerrard managed to head the ball over from underneath the Plymouth crossbar after a delightful deep corner from Whittingham. Then the miss of the season so far occurred with Jay Bothroyd having his reaction shot go wide. Whittingham had taken a sneaky shot from a wide free kick, which Romain Larrieu had managed to save. Gerrard fell onto the ball as it rebounded of the keeper. He then blasted the ball across the box to Bothroyd who missed an open goal.
After an injury to a Plymouth player the referee decided to give the ball to Marshall. The Plymouth players then expected him to blast the ball all the way back to their keeper. Marshall did blast the ball but to Bothroyd instead, who headed the ball to Ross McCormack, who had replaced Chopra upfront. McCormack released a shot after taking a touch to control the ball. The shot fell wide but the action had sparked a reaction from the Plymouth players who rushed around McCormack. The Plymouth players were obviously expecting Cardiff to do the sporting thing and give the ball back, so they weren’t paying attention, allowing McCormack to take advantage of it.
Once the ref had managed to calm the players the game went on. With 7 minutes remaining Gary Sawyer picked the ball up after a poor clearance from Paul Quinn and shot through a crowd of players to put Plymouth into the lead. This pretty much killed Cardiff and all they could muster was a weak shot from Joe Ledley that trickled past the post after a McCormack cross.
Cardiff were poor again. Nothing more to it than that. They need to build a consistent run which can last more than a few games and it’s about time Jones saw the light and replaced Chopra for McCormack, giving Chopra time to recover his confidence.