Cardiff City Handed A Right Royal Thrashing
Cardiff City were soundly beaten 3-0 by a hard-working Reading outfit with better shape and balance than the under-par Bluebirds. While the 3-0 hammering flattered the Royals, they ultimately deserved the win - though the game was an obvious reminder of the thin line between success and failure.
Cardiff City dominated the first half hour, only to fall behind when loan goalkeeper Stephen Bywater repeated his Millwall madness, rushing from his line with no apparent need. This time, he reached the ball but hit his clearance against a defender allowing Shane Long a lucky bounce and to finish from 30 yards.
Cardiff came close to creating openings, but were always a second behind the pace, or few metres short with the pass. The game slipped further away when referree Howard Webb gave a penalty before half-time. I didn't see the incident, but a low corner evaded everyone and Webb had no hesitation - even booking Dekel Keinan. Having seen a replay, the decision was right (though rarely given in such situations) and you have to ask - What was Keinan thinking?
The second half saw plenty of effort for Cardiff, but little quality and you never felt Reading were under serious pressure. Darcy Blake and Bothroyd went close from distance, but it was on-loan Arsenal youngster Jay Emmanuel-Thomas who wasted the two best chances, failing to get either on target when un-marked and 10 yards out at the far post. On that showing, his Arsenal days are numbered.
Reading hit the post and counter-attacked well on aoccasions but mostly they were happy and safe in the knowledge that our midfield couldn't hurt them and denying Chopra space would drive Bothroyd back and keep our attack easily at bay. It worked, and the game was wrapped up when former Bluebird Jobi McAnuff danced through the defence and slammed home from 16 yards.
Two consecutive 3-0 defeats at home - we didn't score a goal over two play-off legs. Dave Jones must take a significant share of the blame, but the players just weren't on form and, for all our talent, we were less of a 'team' than Reading. They deserve their day at Wembley, and good luck to them.