For a 3-1 home defeat, Argyle’s game against Cardiff last night was rather enjoyable. I’d seen both of our two previous league matches, drab 1-1 draws with mid-table bound Palace and QPR, so it was refreshing to see us up against a decent side who were willing to throw caution to the wind and go gung-ho in search of three away points.
Following two heavenly pints of Jail Ale on a sun-drenched Barbican, our posse made its way to Home Park in good spirits: Argyle’s record against the Bluebirds, particularly at home, was decent, so we were hopeful that this first evening game of the Championship season would yield some form of return. The coveted Ross McCormack was nowhere to be seen, and Argyle had Old Firm duo Cillian Sheridan and Alan Gow available, so we dared to dream. Just three minutes had elapsed, though, before Michael Chopra had us staring at our feet in despair when he capitalised on the space provided courtesy of our hospitable centre halves and hit a feeble effort into the turf and right through a mid-limbo Romain Larrieu. The Welshmen went mad while we wondered how many more times we’d have to go through this drill until a change is made at managerial level.
As with most Championship ties these days, both teams had their chances from there and Argyle even enjoyed something of a purple patch in the early stages of the second half when they could well have equalised, if not taken the lead. Gow looked savvy, and Alan Judge bombed forward at will to put the wind up a perhaps defensively limited Cardiff back four, but his ill-judged substitution killed our spirits and the moment had gone. Gavin Rae and Joe Ledley, who each continued to drop deep to collect the ball all game, reasserted their dominance and Peter Whittingham and Chris Burke continued to hug the wings and stretch the play with the support of ex-Pilgrim Tony Capaldi and the impressive debutant Adam Matthews at full-back. Ledley’s cute chipped shot came back off the bar before Chopra struck two more. Howls of displeasure ensued from the home stands, and we trudged home in a mood far removed from our outward journey. But let’s not take it away from Cardiff: rightly or wrongly, the Bluebirds have a strong and talented squad and they will almost certainly improve on last year’s 7th position.