Match Report: Cardiff 1-1 Blackpool
I've lost track of the number of times that we've gone into a game with our backs to the wall, simply hoping for the best.
Today was another one of those games. If Rob Edwards and Ian Evatt being suspended wasn't bad enough, Ian Holloway's men were also without Stephen Crainey who picked up a hamstring injury in last weekend's FA Cup defeat against Ipswich and failed to travel to Wales despite the best efforts of physio Phil Horner.
Then there was the weather. Miraculously, Cardiff had managed to get the game on through on a combination of undersoil heating, snow clearing and gritting.
Conditions were still terrible though, as Ian Holloway alluded to in his pre-match press call. Indeed, the Seasiders had only been able to train once all week due to the terrible weather as Holloway explains:
'Many of the lads couldn't get in this week, so we told them what we wanted and left them to do things on their own.'
Despite this, some hardy 'Pool fans still made the journey down to Cardiff today, and the Seasiders' performance will have hopefully warmed them up somewhat in what were less than pleasant conditions!
Yet again, the 'Pool responded to really being up against it by producing a very good performance, and will perhaps be disappointed not to have taken all three points this afternoon, although I'm sure that Ollie would have bitten anyone's arm off for a point at five to three this afternoon!
The Seasiders did start less than auspiciously though, falling behind after nine minutes.
Charlie Adam was penalised for a foul on Chris Burke. The influential Peter Whittingham stepped up to take the resulting freekick, which Paul Rachubka missed completely on what was a disappointing afternoon for the stopper who will have been looking to re-establish himself as Ollie's first choice keeper, and Cardiff skipper Mark Hudson was on hand to head the ball home from no more than three yards out.
Less than a minute later, Ross McCormack fired over the bar from close range as the Bluebirds looked to double their advantage.
Blackpool's first real chance didn't come until after the twenty minute mark; Charlie Adam curling a freekick straight at Cardiff goalkeeper David Marshall.
Cardiff striker Josh Magennis then headed against the bar as the Seasiders' defence looked shaky.
McCormack shot over again just after the twenty five minute mark as Cardiff enjoyed the better of the first period.
Ten minutes before the break Cardiff were forced into a change when young striker Josh Magennis went off with a suspected broken leg and was replaced by Warren Feeney.
'Pool then forced their first corner of the afternoon, which resulted in Marshall saving well from Alex Baptiste.
At the other hand, Warren Feeney headed over.
Five minutes before the break Charlie Adam entered the referee's book after a string of fouls. Joe Ledley curled the resulting freekick just wide of Paul Rachubka's goal.
Gary Taylor-Fletcher and Keith Southern were then denied by the impressive Marshall just before the break, as the Seasiders went in at half time a goal down.
Just twenty eight seconds into the second half though, Blackpool were level.
Charlie Adam exchanged passes with Ben Burgess before sauntering through the Cardiff defence and sliding the ball home for a goal akin to his one against Nottingham Forest earlier in the season.
The goal seemed to give the 'Pool some self-belief, and it was they that enjoyed the beter of the second half, with their hosts looking very nervous (hardly surprising given that they had let a 4-0 lead slip last time out!).
Moments after the restart though Cardiff did have a chance to regain the lead, but Peter Whittingham curled his freekick narrowly over the bar.
Five minutes into the half Cardiff were forced into their second change; Adam Matthews replacing the injured Chris Burke.
Ben Burgess was then denied by Marshall as the Seasiders began to get a real grip on the game.
Marshall was called into action again a minute later to turn Neal Eardley's freekick over the bar.
Taylor-Fletcher was then denied by Marshall, before Burgess headed over the bar as the Seasiders began to sense that the three points were very much there for the taking.
Burgess went close again, as did Vaughan, whilst McCormack and Whittingham did the same again for Cardiff down at the other end, before a Bluebirds goal was disallowed for a foul on Paul Rachubka, which according to those who have seen the highlights, was a very lucky decision on our part.
McCormack was then replaced by Michael Chopra, shortly after picking up a booking for diving. The change was met with derision by the Cardiff faithful.
Charlie Adam fired wide from distance with quarter of an hour left, after which the Seasiders made a double change; Barry Bannan and Daniel Nardiello replacing Gary Taylor-Fletcher and Brett Ormerod.
Inside the last ten minutes Kevin McNaughton was booked after attempting to win the ball back following a clumsy pass.
Failure to retain possession was a big feature of Cardiff's second half, with the home fans really getting on their players' backs.
Whittingham shot wide before Ben Burgess was brilliantly denied by Marshall with a volley from the edge of the area three minutes from time.
Joe Ledley then screwed a shot horribly at the other end that will have hardly impressed any visiting Premier League scouts, before the two teams played out around five minutes of injury time following a couple of injuries.
The result sends Blackpool up to seventh.
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