Saturday, January 18, 2014

VALLEYS AND TROUGHS

Much has been said about City's potentially record-busting afternoon against Cardiff City, but slightly less air has been heated on the subject of how difficult the Blues have found the Welsh side to beat down the years. Here are one or two memories.

This season's slightly surreal match aside, City and Cardiff have met only a handful of times in the modern era and the majority of those matches hold sour memories: In 1983-84, fresh from the ignominy of that Luton-soaked relegation, City opened with a defeat at a tatty and violent Ninian Park in the second game of the season. A real awakening for both players and the supporters, who made the long trip to swell the crowd to nearly 9,000. The enclosed report mentions an error by Alex Williams letting the hosts edge into a 2-1 lead, which they held onto through to the end of the match.

By the time the sides met again in March, City's dreams of promotion were fading. Indeed a wretched 1-5 reverse at Craven Cottage the previous week had underlined the sparse nature of Billy McNeill's squad. Cardiff arrived with the atmosphere beginning to turn sour at Maine Road, a particularly vitriolic welcome awaited Paul Power, whose stuttering progress down the left flank was followed by unfavourable noises from sections of The Kippax. That City dragged two points from a limp performance was down to the unlikely match winner, David Johnson, one of a string of free transfer additions to the ailing City squad. With early season hot shots Parlane and Tolmie wilting badly after Christmas, Johnson was one of several ageing strikers tried in an attempt to bolster forward impetus.
Paul Power promises to fight on to get fans back on his side

The following season, City again found the Bluebirds tough going, but at least managed a much more positive result from their early season visit to the Valleys, coming away with a 3-0 win thanks to goals from Gordon Smith, Clive Wilson and the new goal-scoring sensation Tony Cunningham. Again, the return game at Maine Road fell late in the season, as the promotion race again looked to be getting too much for the Blues. After leading two nil through the impish skills of youngster Paul Simpson, City fell apart, surrendered the lead and almost lost to the division's worst (and last placed) side. It was at this moment that Billy McNeill realised just what he had taken on at City.

City get a second half "towsing"from the visitors

Before any of these painful second tier encounters, City had played host to the Welshmen in the 3rd round of the Cup in 1981-82. This was to be the season City repeated their glorious journey to Wembley from the previous season, but with a happier final outcome. This match hinged on a robust challenge from the usually targeted Tommy Hutchison, whose lunge put Cardiff's main danger man Wayne Hughes out of the game. In a lively encounter, City progressed 3-1 only to be dumped out in the next round by Coventry City at Maine Road, the infamous game that put Peter Bodak on the map and on John Bond's radar.



As proved the case earlier this season, Cardiff City were a tough nut to crack and, on more than one occasion have refused to crack at all, leaving City with shattered teeth instead.

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