Plymouth 3-3 Cardiff
An incredible game of football saw Plymouth Argyle come back from 3 goals down to snatch what looked like an impossible point.
Cardiff made just the one enforced change to the side beaten at Preston with Darren Purse returning from suspension to replace the banned Glenn Loovens. Plymouth have not won at home this season but started brightly and at a high tempo, Barry Hayles shooting wide early on, Cardiff however looked relaxed and took the lead after just 7 minutes when Riccy Scimeca played a delightful ball inside the Plymouth full back for Paul Parry who took it in stride and crossed from the bye line for STEVEN THOMPSON to volley home. It was a lovely move and Paul Parry looked up at the crucial time and picked out his man brilliantly, Thompson still had work to do but finished extremely well to put Cardiff 0-1 up.
On the half hour, the lead was doubled. Chopra put pressure on the recalled Anthony Barness in the Argyle defence whose back pass fell short. Chopra took the ball at pace and flicked it past the onrushing keeper. Two defenders were on the line but Chopra coolly pulled the ball away from one defenders dive and hit is right footed into the top corner. 2-0 to City and a truly memorable goal from MICHAEL CHOPRA.
City were dominant and Plymouth looked distinctly rattled, shaky in defence and unable to muster any attacking threat. Soon afterwards Kevin McNaughton`s shot from the left was blocked and the ball bounced nicely for Steve Thompson but his shot flew over when he really should have hit the target.
Half time 0-2 and the only real chances for Plymouth were a 30-yard Hasney Aljofree shot and an overhead kick after a partially cleared corner.
The second half began in similar fashion with Cardiff dominating and looking completely comfortable with no hint of the carnage to come. It took just 4 minutes after the restart for Cardiff to extend their lead, a mistake allowed Paul Parry to take possession on the right, he squared for MICHAEL CHOPRA to squeeze between 2 defenders to finish for his second and Parry`s second assist.
3-0 and GAME OVER.
Roger Johnson made a couple of excellent challenges in the area to deny Plymouth, both excellently timed and well executed and Plymouth looked incapable of mounting a serious threat. It took a piece of good fortune to get Plymouth back into the game as a hopeful ball to the right was crossed low and McNaughton stretched but only managed to divert the ball goalwards flicking past Alexander. McNaughton was well positioned and was unlucky to score the own goal, the Scot also having just made a fantastic half pitch length run to win a corner.
The goal expectedly lifted |Plymouth and they began to assert themselves on the game more but with just 20 minutes to go, Cardiff would have been sure to see out the game. The crowd had been stirred however by the goal and began to encourage. It took just 4 more minutes before Plymouth scored again to cut the lead to 2-3. An almighty goalmouth scramble saw the ball strike post and bar, two goal-line clearances before the ball was bundled over, Barry Hayles claiming it but a very scrappy goal with every City clearance only rebounding off another played in the crowded 6-yard area. Plymouth were pushing hard now and began to believe under further encouragement for a now lively support. On 87 minutes the impossible yet somehow inevitable happened and it was a cruel blow for captain Darren Purse. A long ball saw him tussle with substitute Nick Chadwick and as he nodded away from the burly striker the ball flew past an onrushing Neil Alexander. The keeper could easily have stayed but if he was to come, Purse did not seem to hear any call. There was pressure but no huge danger in the situation and either Purse of Alexander could have dealt with it, but neither did.
There was only going to be one winner from there with Plymouth clearly on top and Cardiff players looking suitably shell-shocked and dejected. No further goals came however and Plymouth probably deserved a point by the end. An unbelievable comeback from the Pilgrims when they looked well beaten and completely lost for ideas. A piece of fortune turned the game and every Plymouth goal has a good slice of good luck attached compared to Cardiff`s well worked goals and cool finishing. That, however, is irrelevant and City were taught a lesson by an Ian Holloway inspired fightback, 'Ollie` was jumping on the touchline constantly advising and really helped the players believe.
A point before the match may have been acceptable for City but having played very well for an hour and been three goals up away from home, it is sure to be a massive blow to every player. Dave Jones will need to build on this and there are positives to be taken despite letting such a strong position and 2 points be lost. The young players were evidently shaken and they will need to pick themselves up.
Birmingham won (Jerome scoring a wonderful lob) but Norwich let a 2 goal cushion slip and Wolves lost meaning that Cardiff now lie in second place with 14 points. This exceeds all expectations so far for the season but any City fan cannot help but be disappointed with the manner of this defeat and now having let in 5 goals in 2 games (compared to 2 in the previous 5), Cardiff look to be slipping but fans and played can be encouraged by the style of play and the return to scoring of Steve Thompson. Michael Chopra now has 3 in two games and 4 for the season.
Next up it`s Luton (for whom Richard Langley missed a penalty in tonight`s 1-1 draw with Colchester) at home on Saturday. The sad reality is that conceding the final goal tonight will see a drop in attendance of approximately 2 thousand but the game is definitely winnable and good support will help the players overcome their disappointment.