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Monday, March 27, 2006

Further Reports & Comments on Cardiff 0 QPR 0

City left to rue missed chances
Mar 27 2006
Steve Tucker, Western Mail

FRUSTRATION everywhere at Ninian Park, you could feel it hanging in the air like the constant rain.
With play-off rivals Wolves losing and Preston held to a draw, there was a real sense of "if only" of "what might have been" as the Bluebirds settled for a point with the emphasis very much on the two dropped.
Of course, it's still all to play for in the Championship, but if only top scorer Cameron Jerome had buried his chance on 56 minutes, when all he had to do was keep his head, instead of allowing veteran Welsh keeper Paul Jones out to smother.
Although, to be fair to QPR, Cardiff could have been left totally empty-handed, with City keeper Neil Alexander having to make some vital interventions and former Bluebird Gareth Ainsworth looking lively throughout.
Manager Dave Jones insisted Rangers had come to frustrate his side, to play for the draw, but in reality they showed a lot more ambition going forward than a lot of visitors to Ninian Park this season. The Bluebirds had designated this game "family fun day" and on the first-half entertainment value at least you can imagine parents telling their unruly children in future, "Behave yourself or I'll take you to watch Cardiff City."
It was excruciating stuff, with the introduction of a new corner flag attracting cheers that put the action on the pitch into perspective.
You had to get your thrills where you could early on and Cardiff fans got them by jeering former player Richard Langley as he warmed up on the touchline. The fact Langley now sports the silliest haircut yet invented by man didn't help matters either.
Linesman Mr Flynn wasn't making many friends either as a number of tight offside decisions went the way of the visiting side.
Cardiff started the brighter of the two teams, Jason Koumas in particular was busy and striker Steve Thompson again caught the eye following his excellent performance and winning goal at Plymouth last week.
But Rangers were resolute: content to sit deep, while the Bluebirds grew ever more frustrated as moves fizzled out in the final third or Rangers' excellent captain Danny Shittu made yet another clearance from the heart of defence.
And to cap it all Cardiff found they had to be vigilant at the back as the direct Ainsworth proved a handful and the hulking figure of Marc Nygaard, who got the winner when the two teams met in London last December, lumbered about up front like Frankenstein's monster.
By the start of the second half, QPR had become even more confident and could well have grabbed the lead themselves, Cardiff seemed to sense it might not be their day and several players began to shrivel at the unfairness of it all.
The Bluebirds' biggest problem was that, barring a bit of luck, they really were bereft of ideas of how to break Rangers down. They probed, they prodded, they played it fancy around the box and threw in crosses, but when that failed they were left clueless.
And of course, with such limited squad numbers, there is nothing Jones can really do to change things around. With like-for-like replacements on the bench, bringing Rhys Weston on for Kevin Cooper with a quarter of an hour left is really as exciting as it gets. Although the absence of Jeff Whitley from amongst the substitutes was inexplicable as he is one of the only players Cardiff have who might come on and shake things up in the middle of the park.
There was the inevitable late assault on the QPR goal, but it wasn't enough and all that was left was that empty feeling you get at the realisation you've missed out on a very good opportunity.
Surely Cardiff cannot afford any more slip-ups like this at home if they are to turn their play-off dreams into reality.
They can only hope Reading at Ninian Park in two weeks' time are still bleary eyed from their Premiership promotion party, but also know Neil Warnock's Sheffield United are sure to be clear-headed on Good Friday and made of sterner stuff than QPR.
Although before all that is the little matter of Jones' return to another of his old clubs, Southampton, next weekend, where he experienced a sterner test of character away from the game than he ever will on any football pitch. For now Jones was putting a brave face on this result, while well aware of his squad's limitations.
"We haven't got the squad at the moment to make the changes. I'm changing like for like at the moment, we don't have something that's needed to mix it up a bit," said Jones.
"We've gained a point on the team above us, in Preston's case they've dropped points, we've dropped two points. But we just keep going. We fight another day and that's the important thing for everybody.
"They came with two banks of four and we weren't going to budge them. At one point I had four players up front, Paul Jones did a good job today.
"It happens when teams come here and set two banks of four and they are not prepared to move out. You've got to have a certain type of player who can rattle them and, like I said, at this moment in time, we haven't got that.
"Cameron (Jerome) is learning his trade and he needs to protect the ball a bit better in and around the goal area. But they are all things that we continue to work at. Unfortunately for us today, nothing fell for us and, when it did, the big man in goals made the save.
"People are saying that we are punching above our weight. I've been in the game long enough to know that nobody punches above their weight over 40 odd games. It's impossible to do because you've got to keep getting out there, week in, week out.
"We are where we are, hanging in there. The most important thing today was if it wasn't going to happen for us in front of goal then we certainly didn't let it happen for them."

We could have won - Waddock
Mar 27 2006
Steve Tucker, Western Mail

RANGERS' caretaker boss Gary Waddock left Ninian Park believing his side could well have taken all three points rather than just the one, writes Steve Tucker.
Waddock, who is in charge at Loftus Road while manger Ian Holloway is on extended "gardening leave", dismissed claims that his side had started the game against Cardiff looking for a draw.
"It was a good point and I felt that we could have gone back home with the three points," said Waddock.
"I wanted to win the game, I think the way we played in the second half, with one or two opportunities we had, showed you that we wanted to win the game. It shows how well we defended to limit Cardiff to just one real opportunity in the game. I think we had more opportunities during the second half.
"I came here to win. I wasn't going to come here in a cavalier style. I wanted our side to be compact and narrow. When the game opened up, I thought we passed it quite well and created chances. There's no way I was going to come here and be cavalier.
Coming to somewhere like Cardiff was always going to be tough, they are having a fantastic season and wanted the three points to try and get themselves into the play-offs.
"We are delighted that we've kept a clean sheet and we are going home with a point."
Waddock also made it plain he hopes to take over permanently from Holloway should the opportunity arise http://icwales.icnetwork.co.uk/0600soccer/0200news/tm_objectid=16867760%26method=full%26siteid=50082%26headline=we%2dcould%2dhave%2dwon%2d%2d%2dwaddock-name_page.html

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