Cardiff City 0 Newcastle United 1

I spent most of this afternoon at Cardiff City’s new stadium at Ninian Park (which is just over the road from the old one, in fact). The date of the fixture between Cardiff and Newcastle had been in my diary for weeks but by the time I got round to buying tickets it was sold out except for the Premier seats at £65 a go. I decided to go for it anyway and me and my colleague Derek (another astronomer) went in the posh lounge for drinks before during and after the game. I even had the proverbial prawn sandwich. It makes a big difference having food and drink available before and during the match, and although I’d never been in the upmarket part of a football stadium for a match before it’s something I could definitely get used to. In fact the comfort level was a bit more like you would find at the Opera (which I’m off to on Friday as it happens) than a football match.  Although the chorus was not very tuneful I enjoyed their renditions of  Chi è il bastardo in nero and l’arbitro è un coglione.

With seats at the top level of a packed stadium, we had an excellent view of the game. The atmosphere was brilliant – a contrast to the mid-week international I watched in an empty ground a few days ago.

Cardiff City were  either very nervous in front of their first full house or perhaps just stunned by the horrible sight of Newcastle United’s hideous away strip of two-tone yellow stripes, shown on the left modelled by defender Steven Taylor. It took the home side ages to settle, especially their back four who looked jittery throughout the game.

Newcastle were all over Cardiff in the first half and it was no surprise when the away side scored, from a poorly-defended corner which was eventually  put away by Coloccini. Thereafter Cardiff attacked only sporadically. Chopra – an ex-Newcastle player himself – carved one good chance but Rae skied his shot. The Toon were comfortably up 1-0 at half time.

There weren’t many clear-cut chances in the second half, with Newcastle content to sit back and protect their lead keeping the ball as long as possible. This might have been a mistake if Cardiff had managed to put anything together going forward, but their attacks were generally disjointed and lacking penetration. Chopra was the home side’s only real threat but he didn’t show much in the second half. Newcastle’s policy of playing a single striker – the lone Ranger – paid off in this phase. Although he rarely threatened goal himself  he provided an extremely useful channel through which  his defence could clear the ball. Alan Smith (captain for the day) played just in front of the back 4 in a 4-5-1 formation and showed good skill as well as determination.

Cardiff threatened a few times – including a shout for a penalty for handball that was rightly turned down by the official – but didn’t really look like getting an equaliser until, in stoppage time, a slip Coloccini let to a foul by Smith. His second yellow card got him sent off and also left Cardiff with a free kick in a dangerous position just outside the Newcastle penalty area. Nothing came of it, however, and shortly afterwards the referee blew the final whistle. Cardiff’s use of free kicks and other set-pieces was very poor throughout the game, in fact.

I’m biased of course but I think Newcastle thoroughly deserved to win. Nolan, Barton, and Smith were much more composed in midfield than their opposite numbers and Harper, who didn’t have that much to do, looked very solid in goal. Missing Ameobi up front through injury they picked a less adventurous side than perhaps they would have done for a home game.

There weren’t many shots on goal at either end and the only goal came from a set piece, but the game was played at a good tempo and was very enjoyable to watch.

I’d like to mention that the Newcastle fans in the far corner to our right at one point started singing “there’s only one Bobby Robson” in honour of the recently deceased legendary Newcastle and England manager. Cardiff fans all round the ground responded spontaneously with respectful applause. Good stuff.

A beautiful sunny day, a big crowd (25,000+), an excellent game, played in a good sporting atmosphere, and of course the right result. What more could you want? Actually, a few more beers down in Cardiff Bay which we had too.

Newcastle United now have 16 points from 6 games and remain unbeaten at the top of the championship. Cardiff City slip back from 4th place to 8th.

4 Responses to “Cardiff City 0 Newcastle United 1”

  1. Chris Crowe Says:

    This must have been a tough game for you! Although I suppose you haven’t been at Cardiff long enough to switch sides, even if the away kit does look like a grilled banana!

  2. Someone in the crowd said they looked like sherbet lemons…

  3. […] City 1 Bristol City 0 It seems like ages since my last football blog post, but tonight has provided me with another opportunity. My local team, Cardiff City, was drawn […]

  4. […] home advantage, and the fact that Newcastle won the corresponding away fixture here in Cardiff, I thought this tie would be pretty difficult for Newcastle so I was overjoyed to see the result […]

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