Cardiff City in Wide Screen
Although both clubs lost ground as Forest and Swansea continue to accumulate three point hauls, this was a game in wide screen – an expansive palate of delights that had everything – in short, a great trailer for the Championship.
That the dramatis personae included that pantomime villain, Craig Bellamy added weight to the exalted nature of the narrative. The diminutive pickpocketer of defences hugged the touchline like one of Fagan’s gang, darting impishly around Andy Griffin, firing in howitzers and topping it all with a ninety seventh minute free kick climax.
Across the park, seemingly several leagues distant, Peter Whittingham enjoyed a supporting role on this occasion, firing waywardly one too many times. Centrefield, Seyi Olofinjana looked cumbersome and was written out of later scenes; his partner and leading man, the dashing Aaron Ramsey, showing poise in possession, but too often harried by Jem Karacan and Mikele Leigertwood, save for one wonderful trap of a plummeting ball, warmly received by the Ninian Stand faithful.
Out of position at centre back, Kevin McNaughton, an unsung hero if ever there was one, scampered to prevent Reading’s real threat, although Mark Hudson and Lee Naylor lend the rearguard a less than starry status: the latter and Paul Quinn struggled all night against Jimmy Kébé and Jobi McAnuff.
The second half threatened to become a Rorke’s Drift-style siege after Adam Federici’s clanger let in Jay Bothroyd. The England man has shaken off injury well but for once came across a refreee who doesn’t appreciate his failure to honestly challenge for the ball in the air. Alongside, Jay Emmanuel-Thomas perhaps denied Bellamy his rightful striking stage – the glossy booted man’s next loan move will be to League 1, I’d wager.
Overall, this was a joyfully entertaining and exuberant Cardiff City, but a vulnerable one that is conscious of the pressure concomitant with enlisting a phalanx of pampered thespians.