Cardiff City 1 – 0 Aston Villa
There’s nothing worse for a football supporter than seeing your team put in an inert performance. You know from an early stage that it isn’t going to be your day and when the opposition go ahead in the first twenty minutes, it sums it all up. The least you expect at that point is a response of some sort.
Villa were so flaccid that they couldn’t even be bothered to shrug their shoulders and offer ‘meh’ as an excuse. It was a lacklustre performance which came from nowhere.
It could have been worse by half-time. It should have been worse but Cardiff didn’t make the most of their dominance following Joe Ralls’ opening goal. There is something wrong at the club that we concede so many terrible goals. This one was a goalmouth scramble and Ralls found space in an area of the pitch where he should be hassled and harried rather than being left unmarked.
As a former central defender, it must drive Bruce to the brink of despair to see such a bad goal conceded.
Cardiff struck the post and Jordan Amavi cleared Zohore’s shot off the line as the rearguard action disintegrated from Dad’s Army into the Keystone Kops.
We were better in the second half which isn’t much praise considering how awful we were in the first. Ross McCormack came closest to an equaliser when his effort from a free kick was tipped onto the bar.
Gabby Agbonlahor’s redemption almost happened but Murphy made a fine save from the Villa man’s shot. Whilst there was plenty of pressure on the Cardiff goal, we forged few genuine goalscoring moments and the absence of a real goal threat is a very real concern as we head into the month without Jonathan Kodjia.
If you looked at yesterday’s bench, there were barely any strikers worthy of the name included. Steve Bruce may point to the close proximity of this match to the Leeds game but let’s be honest, selling Rudy Gestede to Middlesbrough only makes sense if we have a replacement lined up.
Ross McCormack is struggling in front of goal this season and as admirable as his work-rate may be, his goalscoring rate is of more importance.
Post-match, Steve Bruce questioned the professionalism of the players,
It was a slow start – it was that slow that we stopped.
That bad eh, Steve?
That’s two or three times we’ve done that now and the first half was nowhere near the performance required. The only thing I can put it down to is mentality. We’re arguably the biggest club in this division and that makes us a scalp but if we don’t find the right mentality, we won’t achieve what we want.
That’s his job to sort out. If it means a couple of others have to be kicked through the exit door to get the rest of the squad focused, so be it. We’re now seven points off the play-off places and another defeat before the end of this month will see that hope over for this season.
Given our form last season, bouncing back to the Premier League at the first time of asking was always going to be tough. We’re looking exceedingly unlike doing that at the moment.