The dénouement to Cardiff City’s 2008-9 season was a shocker. A 6-0 defeat at Preston defied belief and the Bluebirds lost 1-0 at Sheffield Wednesday to agonisingly miss out on a play off place. The capital city club have been deserving a decent shot at promotion for some time now and the nervousness on display in their slightly fortunate home draw with Reading on Saturday is perhaps understandable in the circumstances.
A string of convincing results including a barnstorming South Wales derby win and a comfortable draw at Forest have put Cardiff within touching distance of the two leggers, so Dave Jones will be happy at having chalked up another point here. Defensively, the signs were especially encouraging. Mark Kennedy did well against Jimmy Kébé – his pace a major asset against such a rapid opponent. On the right, Kevin McNaughton largely negated the threat of Jobi McAnuff and Adam Matthews’ absence from the full back positions hardly registered. Centrally, Anthony Gerrard continues to make progress and many a Bluebirds’ fan was praising the performance of ex-Plymouth loanee Darcy Blake on exiting the ground: his was a display of pride and not prejudice.
In midfield, Joe Ledley could be found easing himself back into action after a hip operation. Still slightly short of match fitness, City’s major capital asset had a quiet but effective game as he and Stephen McPhail battled gamely against a three man Reading central midfield. Unlikely top scorer Peter Whittingham tortured Andy Griffin in the early stages but just as with Jerome Thomas a couple of weeks previously, Reading’s own silver fox gained the upper hand by the end. At outside right, Kelvin Etuhu’s pace caused issues and he looked more effective on this occasion than find of the season Chris Burke, forced largely to defend after coming on late.
Up front, those twin diddy men Michael Chopra and Ross McCormack, each afforded a half of action, enjoyed little succour in the April sunshine and it was left to Jay Bothroyd, the lower divisions’ Bobby Zamora, to lead the line. Intensely annoying for opposing fans with his little elbows and niggles, the ex-Perugia man continues to be, in my opinion, hugely impressive. His was a performance of cleverness that might suggest another shot at the EPL is in order – with the equally astute Dave Jones at the helm, that might be at the City of Cardiff Stadium.