Cardiff City 0 Wigan Athletic 2
Saturday 9th April 2005
Well would you credit it? From complete and utter despondency to hope and joy in one short week. The last 7 or so days have been a lesson for all those people out there who think that we go to the football to enjoy ourselves. On Wednesday morning promotion had been cruel snatched away from us. Today I actually told someone (more in hope than expectation) that we could be promoted before the Preston game.
So what happened? As you know the story starts on Saturday lunchtime at the Stadium of Light. Sunderland facing a Reading team that is having a good run, but if Tuesday’s performance is anything to go by should pose no problem to the Mackems. Now Sunderland fans will probably tell you different, but Reading did a job on them. Sunderland may have been the slightly better team but, as we’ve learnt to our cost in the past, that’s not always good enough. When Arca nipped in at the back post it did look like they’d push on and walk it, in the end one goal wasn’t enough and a double from Dave Kitson saw the Royals boost their play off challenge. Good news for us, but better news for Ipswich. If this was the start of Sunderland’s wobble it let them back in with a chance of the title.
At this point all of our games were must wins, and a visit to a Cardiff side fighting for Championship survival was never going to be easy. Even if they’ve failed to beat us for eight years, they always manage to put the wind up me. It doesn’t help only having Matt and Harold for company. They might give you a heady mix of passion and pragmatism but picking up how a game is actually going from the pieces is nigh on impossible. I’m not sure they ever even decided what formation we played on Saturday. Suffice to say it might not have been pretty but we got the three points.
The most curious thing about the game was the team selection. Most people got something they’d asked for. Teale was out, Omerod got a start as did Jarrett leading to initial impressions that we were playing 4-3-3. The it appeared that Ellington was in wide positions a lot of the time, so was it 4-4-2? Then again so was Omerod so either back to 4-3-3 or 4-5-1, but does it matter. I think the main thing was the midfield was a little more workman like. Effort over ability may not be a recipe for happy football fans, but at the business end of the season it’s the result not how it’s achieved that counts. Perhaps unsurprising though, we sounded a little more balanced after Mahon replaced Ellington.
By that stage we were already in front, a cross from our new best left back Steve Macmillan finding the head of Jason Roberts and we were away. Were we comfortable, or value for our lead? I wouldn’t like to say Leicester’s golden tonsils have, in the past, been confident of victory with the scores level and 5 minutes to go; Mr. Ashurst isn’t even comfortable at 4-0. I’d leave that one to the people who were actually there, but there hasn’t been that much talk about the game, with Ipswich still to play that was perhaps understandable. Just to make sure the boys finished up with a goal made in the Republic of Ireland ‘B’ team. Kavanagh preferring to square the ball to Mahon (admittedly in a better position) than to finish off a reasonably worked chance.
undefinedAnd so to Monday. Sunderland’s ‘slip’ against Reading had got the hope glands working overtime. Just in case an email doing a Uri Geller and asking colleagues to concentrate on the ‘old gold’ (orange to you and me) spot was circulated amongst colleagues. Wolves favourite trick of pulling a draw from the jaws of victory would put us right back in the mixer, no one was daft enough to think it could be better than that were they? Well obviously no one bothered telling Glen Hoddle the script, a case of Hi Ho Wolverhampton and the Wigan of the 1st division (my favourite Wolves fan wind up when we were struggling to get out of the 2nd) were all over Ipswich. Seoul (gerrim signed?) was running them ragged. On my return it took me 5 minutes to notice that Ipswich were behind, probably the most delayed celebration from me this season. Kelvin Davies was having a stormer in the Ipswich (gerrim signed?) and Wolves were having chance after chance. Then with not even a quarter of the game gone, Cort makes it 2-0 (gerrim, erm no forget that), cashback!
The second half dragged a little longer, Ipswich having more of a say in proceedings. So much so that Lescott, Wolves centre half, pipped Seoul to man of the match and there you have it. After a weekend where we put the title on a plate for Sunderland and put automatic promotion in the hands of the Tractor boys, they both turn around and refuse our kind offer at the first time of asking. After such an up and down week I’m now confused about what result I want from the Sunderland v Ipswich game on Sunday. Part of me wants us to put Ipswich further off the pace with a Sunderland win, part of me sees the bright lights and wants Ipswich to win and pull Sunderland back nearer to both of us. Best plump for the draw then? Best not to let myself run away with it though, we still have to beat Leicester yet, now that should be an interesting commentary.
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