Cardiff City 2 - West Bromwich Albion 1

Date: Tuesday 28th January 2020 
Competition: Sky Bet Championship
Cardiff:
5.2
Smithies, Richards, Morrison, Nelson, Bennett, Pack, Vaulks, Whyte (Bacuna, 82), Paterson, Hoilett (Bamba, 94), Glatzel (Tomlin, 64)
Unused subs: Etheridge, Flint, Murphy, Mayembe
WBA:
4.2
Johnstone 4.3, O'Shea 5.4, Hegazi 6.1, Bartley 3.1 (Furlong, 77 4.0), Ferguson 5.1, Livermore 5.8, Sawyers 5.1, Phillips 6.0, Krovinovic 6.3, Edwards 4.8 (Austin, 59 5.6), Robson-Kanu 4.8 (Zohore, 59 3.3)
Unused subs: Bond, Brunt, Townsend, Barry
Manager: Slaven Bilic 3.5
Scorers: Paterson (46), Tomlin (74); Austin (61 pen)
Referee: Robert Jones 5.5
Attendance: 22,516   Home Fans 4.8   Away Fans 5.5
Submit your ratings for this game by clicking here: Ratings submitted so far: 8

Brendan Clegg:

Well that's another game to be absolutely livid about.

We lost to a truly terrible team who could hardly put 5 passes together but to whom we gifted a couple of really cheap goals and could hardly create chances against.

I thought the starting defence was a bit odd but looked solid enough and everything else looked okay.

We were the better team in the first half but moves kept breaking down because the final ball was rushed and Cardiff defended in numbers.

That's not to say we didn't work decent situations - Hegazi bypassed Sawyers a number of times to find Krovi in the hole and although things didn't quite happen the promise was there if we could be patient and calm.

We still dominated the ball well enough to the point where I thought the wise, sensible and intelligent use of subs Bilic had shown so much in the first half of the season would find a solution.

The only time Cardiff looked a threat was when we gifted them chances or long throws/set plays.

In my opinion as the half panned out it looked obvious that we didn't need 2 would-be centre halves in the full back position with all that possession, especially one playing off his wrong foot who had to keep coming back inside or passing backwards because it allowed Cardiff to drop back in

So I'd have pulled O'Shea at HT, moved Ferguson to right back and got Brunt or Townsend on at left back to give us better balance going forward, either in supporting Edwards or to feed him better.

Instead HT came & went with no changes and we were one behind after 2 minutes - O'Shea costing us a set piece from a barmy pass and then nobody doing enough to win the high ball into the box or scramble despite every member of our team being in our own box. We do this so often yet still concede it really does make you wonder why we don't leave 1 or 2 players up for long throws and corners.

Bilic made a double-sub that to me really smacked of hope and desperation over tactical nous. I couldn't see how Austin and Zohore were going to create something from nothing or get on the end of crosses that never seemed to beat the first man anyway.

But quick as a flash Krov won a penalty with a neat turn and when Austin tucked it away you thought we might have got that bit of luck to turn our season.

Reality bites. The players we had out there in the system they were playing simply didn't have enough to move it quickly enough to hurt Cardiff, to beat them one on one or to get the ball into the box and I don't think we managed to find Krov for about 30 minutes after that.

What we did do was rush another silly goal kick when there was no need, gift the ball, concede a cheap free kick and pay the price for it as we conceded another.

The game ran away from us despite some huff and puff until Bilic made a final sub, bringing Furlong on for Bartley and shifting O'Shea to centre back.

We still created little until with about 5 minutes to go, Krovi went back into the centre behind our 2 strikers, Phillips went left wing and Furlong played both right back and right wing and we created a couple of chances that better strikers would've taken. Really Phillips playing as an orthodox winger who attacked his full back and got crosses in caused this, which is kind of what we needed for the whole half but that Bilic removed.

Overall it's worrying times as Bilic does seem to have lost his head and is now making irrational team selections and subs when there is no need.

Hopefully a couple of signings and the return from injury of Diangana will paper over the cracks enough in what is such a poor league, until we actually get back to playing like we can. But there were no excuses for that and people criticising the manager have every right to do so based upon that.

  • SJ - 5 He continues to be a problem through a complete lack of presence, leadership and decision-making.
  • Ferguson - 5 Started terribly and nearly cost us an early goal - got better but couldn't carry the ball forward on his wrong side.
  • Hegazi - 6 Hit some really good passes and was generally okay.
  • Bartley - 6 Also generally okay in open play and tried to drive us on.
  • O'Shea - 5 I thought he struggled. Did well in patches and has potential but didn't see anything to justify him starting over Furlong or Ferguson at right back in games where we need to attack, not sit back and break.
  • Sawyers - 6 Ticked it over but passed the buck too many times.
  • Livermore - 7 Did everything to get us going, couldn't fault the effort.
  • Edwards- 6 Hooked too early I thought. Wasted a couple of situations but wasn't alone and had the beating of his man. Too easy to keep taking him off.
  • Krovi - 7 I thought he had another decent game and looked after the ball well.
  • Phillips - 7 Took responsibility in a way he hasn't for a while which was a positive from the game. Kept trying to make things happen.
  • HRK - 6 Did well a couple of times, would rather have seen him get another 15 with better balance in the team at fullback to receive balls in and turn.
  • Austin - 6 Good penalty and battles for everything but the threat just wasn't there.
  • Zohore - 5 Had one chance and should've scored but hit it towards the keeper at perfect height to save.
  • Furlong - 5 Couldn't get into it.

Literally all we should need to do against Luton is turn up, play no nonsense football at the back, sensible football in the middle and pressure them when they try to play it out from the back and the victory should fall into our laps if we're patient.

Are we clever enough to do it?

Mark Koppel:

Cardiff 2 Bilic's Baggies 1

I said after the last league game that the chickens are coming home to roost for this squad and this manager.

I mean if you fail to get promoted, then cannot keep your best players (Gayle, JRod, Dawson, Barnes), then leave it to an inexperience Recruitment Director (with no help from our so-called Owner), you are unlikely to form a successful plan.

Tonight's Player Ratings:

  • Johnstone 4 - His failure to come off his line for high balls will make it difficult for any defence. Also slow to get rid of the ball when kicking. Why does he keep having to take an extra touch? Time for 007 I think.
  • O'Shea 7 - Did not put a foot wrong. One or two good crosses, never lost possession, and a much better option than 'Backwards and Sideways' Furlong.
  • Ferguson 6 - Looked a bit rusty at first as he hasn't played for a while. But grew into the game.
  • Donkey Bartley 1 - Two massive and totally unnecessary mistakes that gave them their goals. I honestly believe we would have won this game if it wasn't for Donkey Bartley. And if you think this is harsh, remember he also went missing for both Charlton goals.
  • Hegazi 7 - So much more comfortable on the ball than Donkey. Good passes forward including the one that led to our goal. Bilic needs to keep him in with Ajayi.
  • Philips 7 - Our most dangerous player tonight. Some corners were poor but he did create our best chances.
  • Livermore 5 - Tried hard but never passes forward until we are losing.
  • Sawyers 6 - Still not back to his earlier season best but an improvement on recent performances.
  • Edwards 5 - Got plenty of early possession but didn't really hurt Cardiff.
  • Robson-Kanu 5 - The drought continues.
  • Krovonic 6 - Got into some good positions and more positive in going forward. Would have got a better rating if it wasn't for his very bad miss.

Subs:

  • Zahore 3 - Did he actually come onto the pitch?
  • Austin 7 - Needs to start. Simple.
  • Furlong 3 - If you add up all his forward passes this season, they don't even add up to a furlong!

Bilic- He is not The Messiah. He is just a Naughty Boy.

Cardiff Baggie:

As usual Brendan and Mark have beaten me to it with their reports.

This was the first time that I had been to the Cardiff City Stadium since we lost 1-0 in 2013 just before Steve Clarke lost his job.

You know what you are likely to get at Cardiff, a fairly physical game from a big side that relies quite a lot on set plays. This proved to be the case and in fact Slaven had set us up to deal with that.

In the first half I thought we were the better side without playing particularly well or creating that much. I ended the half worried about the risk from very long and accurate throw-ins, though, which are almost as good as a corner, even though lacking the pace of most corners.

We fell to a sucker punch goal from a throw in soon after the start of the second half. I couldn't see exactly what happened from the other end of the stadium but clearly we failed to deal with a throw from the right side of the pitch.

The tempo of Albion's game then increased significantly (we didn't 'deserve' to be behind) and some chances were created with Krovinovic hitting his over the bar when it looked easier to score. Slaven then put Austin and Zahore on then for Edwards And Robson-Kanu and shortly afterwards we were awarded a penalty when Krovinovic was fouled. Austin covered this with great composure and I though at that point we would go on and win it.

How wrong I was as we fell to another sucker punch when Lee Tomlin scored from a direct free kick from just outside the penalty area with a nice chip. Again I couldn't see that well but could Sam Johnstone have done better? We then battled on but ran out of time. Cardiff reminded me of how we were set up in the Premier League under Tony Pulis, good set plays but not too much else going forward?

Looking at the BBC report and Slaven's comments afterwards, and then reflecting on that, we had a lot of possession but again lacked pace and invention going forward. At the back we were set up quite well but individual errors cost us points, again. I am not convinced by Romaine Sawyer's contribution at the moment, too often plays the easy pass, but then is there enough in the way of movement and options for him to aim for? Our work rate, compared to sides like Brentford and Leeds, is also lacking.

At the moment we are sliding back into the play-off places and basically have to beat Luton on Saturday in my view, preferably convincingly. I'm seeing stories trickling out in the media now about Hegazi and Ferguson, a simple message from me would be we don't want players in and around the squad who are causing dissent and disunity. I'm sure there is something behind the scenes as I said in my previous report. We just don't need it, ever!! The team spirit was great in the first half of the season but I don't see obvious signs of it now?