Post-match report: Cardiff City 4 – Chasetown 0

chasetownfcbadgeThere are many occasions in football where the final score does not fully tell the story, and on Friday July 10th the 4-0 loss was almost totally irrelevant for Chasetown as they put on a memorable display in the first ever game played at Cardiff City’s new stadium, writes Dave Goddard.

At no stage were the Scholars even slightly dominated or overawed by their opponents or the impressive surroundings of the fantastic Cardiff City Stadium, despite the six-tier gap between them in the league system, and for almost the full 90 minutes the sides were evenly matched in midfield as the Unibond side showed clear grit and determination.

In the midst of an electric atmosphere despite the brand-new arena being well under capacity, Cardiff began marginally stronger and new signing Michael Chopra had the ball in the net in the third minute but the flag was up for offside.

John Branch rose to head away a Mark Kennedy cross two minutes later, and the Scholars looked well up for the challenge of the Championship club as manager Charlie Blakemore’s stentorian cries from the dugout soon spurred them into top gear.

Gary Birch showed some spirited play down the left against Kevin McNaughton, and his cross met Ben Steane who set up new Scholar Danny Bragoli whose shot was tipped away for a corner by keeper David Marshall. Mark Branch’s corner kick found Dean Perrow who forced Marshall into a diving save to his right, continuing the visitors’ fine start.

Perrow went close again on eight minutes to send a right-footed shot over the bar, and the travelling Scholars fans in the corner of the Grange stand were in full voice in support of their heroes.

Some excellent play under pressure by Steane on the right on 16 minutes saw him play through to Birch who set up Perrow, the striker this time beating Marshall with a right-footed shot but the goal was sadly denied by the offside flag.

Surviving their scare, the home side began to up the pressure on the Scholars defence. Kennedy’s cross was just missed by Jay Bothroyd but the ball came back in to Chris Burke who forced Scholars keeper Ryan Price into a fine save and the ball went out for a corner.

Seconds later, the hosts were in front as Kennedy set up Bothroyd for a header at the far post which left Price with no chance, and the honour of the first goal at Cardiff City Stadium went to the Bluebirds.

Chasetown’s response was immediate, Steane forcing Marshall to tip his hammer shot inches over the bar, and an excellent display of football from both sides continued with Chopra firing straight at Price from 20 yards and several periods of fast-paced midfield play.

Perrow was again frustrated by Marshall on the half hour and by a trio of defenders three minutes later, while Gabor Gyepes fired a low effort wide of Price’s far post as things remained evenly matched further back in midfield.

Ross McCormack played Chopra into space in the 41st minute and the new forward seemed certain to double the Bluebirds’ advantage, but the ball bounced off the far post and back into the prone Price’s grateful hands.
Less than a minute later, however, Chopra got it right as he latched onto a cross from the rapid Kennedy on the left and this time had no difficulty sending it past Price for 2-0.

Undaunted, the Scholars keeper was alert to tip away a McNaughton cross two minutes later, and the Scholars left the field in upbeat mood despite the deficit.

Half time: Cardiff City 2 Chasetown 0.

Cardiff manager Dave Jones made ten changes at half time, McCormack the only survivor and he went close early on as did Josh Magennis. With a near-totally fresh side the Bluebirds were predictably the brighter over the opening minutes of the half, but Vaughan Thomas and substitute Adie Smith worked well at the back to counter their efforts.

The dam soon broke once again, however, as a simple cross from the left from Joe Ledley on 64 minutes found Magennis who calmly shot right-footed past Price at his near post for Cardiff’s third.

Chasetown then found the pace to attack again, Craig Marshall sending Harry Harris’s effort goalwards but Tony Capaldi did well to block the shot on the line, although the offside flag once again made the challenge irrelevant. Harris then aimed a low cross at Smith in space but Peter Whittingham turned the ball out for a corner.

Perrow then tried a speculative low effort from long range which went wide of the near post, and still the Scholars pounced upon whatever breakthrough they could find.

A Capaldi cross then found Magennis who looked for his double but instead blazed the ball high into the Canton stand, before Price produced another fine diving save to deny Paul Parry at close range.

Steven Clancy was introduced to the defence with ten minutes on the clock and worked well alongside Ross Miller and Thomas, while Parry almost made it four for the home side but was denied by the impressive Price who dived at full stretch.

Adam Matthews was next to break clear for Cardiff but his shot from the right went wide, while Chasetown gave all their squad a chance and 16-year old Jack Farmer was handed a first team debut to remember as he replaced Danny Bragoli.

The Scholars continued to give their all but just could not find a breakthrough, and on 88 minutes Matthews made it four for Cardiff with a stiffly struck right-footed shot past substitute keeper James Fryer.

The scoreline, however, was overshadowed by the occasion for both sides, and Chasetown were able to take pride in a showing of depth and gutsy play – factors that will certainly serve them well in the Unibond League.

Manager Blakemore said: “This was a first class performance by the team and they were all honoured to take part. It was a special occasion for everyone.

“The club is now in a totally different sphere to where it was when we first played Cardiff, and today we approached them in the right spirit and gave them a good game.”

Cardiff boss Dave Jones was also hugely impressed with the Scholars. “I have had great respect for Chasetown ever since we played them in the FA Cup and the side have shown great respect today and given us a tough game” he said.

After the opulence of the new Cardiff City Stadium, Chasetown will next travel to the slightly more humble surroundings of former Midland Alliance rivals Cradley Town on Thursday evening, kicking off at 7.45pm.

Cardiff: D Marshall (Enckelman 45), McNaughton (Quinn 45), Kennedy (Capaldi 45), Klimpl (Morris 45), Hudson (C) (Gerrard 45), Gyepes (Rae 45), Burke (Whittingham 45), McPhail (Ledley 45), Bothroyd (Parry 45), Chopra (Magennis 45), McCormack (Matthews 54).

Chasetown: Price (Fryer 83), J Branch (A Smith 45), M Branch (Milligan 68), Slater (Clancy 79), Thomas, Teesdale (C), Steane (Harris 53), Bragoli (Farmer 83), Birch (C Marshall 53), Perrow (Ricketts 79), Batchelor (Miller 74).

Goals: Bothroyd 20, Chopra 41, Magennis 64, Matthews 88.
Referee: Mr B James.
Attendance: 5,270.

Report by Dave Goddard

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