Football FA Cup: Dale's Ninian return rocks Cardiff resolve

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The Independent Online
Cardiff City 1 Yeovil Town 1

YEOVIL TOWN have far bigger scalps than Cardiff City to their name and will feel that the only FA Cup shock at Ninian Park was that they did not emerge victorious. If this game was anything to go by, they should have few worries in the replay.

But Yeovil could so easily have avoided the inconvenience. In fine cup tradition Carl Dale returned to Cardiff, the club that released him in the summer after seven seasons and 108 goals, and scored the goal that had seemingly put the West Countrymen on their way to another famous victory.

However, if giant-killing is Yeovil's forte then killing off sleeping giants - as Cardiff like to call themselves - does not come so naturally. By the time Kevin Nugent rose to rescue Cardiff six minutes from time, Yeovil should have had the game, and their name, in the bag. Missed chances from Steve Thompson and David Piper allowed the Third Division leaders to snatch an undeserved replay.

Cardiff have been going through a rare resurgence of late, with the promise of new money arriving to drag the club out of the doldrums adding to the optimism created by a minor upturn of fortunes on the field. On this showing it looks a long journey upwards for the Welshmen. In the immediate future the journey to Huish Park, for the replay a week tomorrow, is arduous enough. There they will find a confident Yeovil side, unbeaten for 19 matches, who put them to shame on Saturday.

For long periods Yeovil controlled the game, reacting to the atrocious conditions far better than their supposed superiors. It was no surprise when Dale's inevitable strike came after 54 minutes. Warren Patmore's powerful header was cleared off the line by Graham Mitchell but only as far as Dale, who snapped in the rebound past Jon Hallworth. The capacity Cardiff crowd, who had earlier given Dale such a rousing reception, fell silent as they struggled to comprehend how their favourite son of recent years could do such a thing.

It was a strange moment for Dale, too, who later admitted he did not whether to celebrate or commiserate. "I wanted to score of course, but I couldn't be too ecstatic having scored against Cardiff City," he said.

Ten minutes later it was only the sprawling left leg of Mark Delaney that stopped David Piper from making it two and putting it out of Cardiff's reach. But the desperate measures employed by the home side eventually paid off when Nugent's header evaded everyone, including the Swansea-born goalkeeper, Tony Pennock. In injury time Nugent almost put Cardiff through, his looping header being cleared off the line by Kevan Brown.

That would have been more than Cardiff deserved, and too cruel for Yeovil. "We thought we'd won it," said the Yeovil head coach, Colin Lippiatt. "But we have to believe that we can do it at our place."

Goals: Dale (54) 0-1; Nugent (84) 1-1.

Cardiff City (3-5-2): Hallworth; Ford, Mitchell, Eckhardt; Delaney, Fowler, Hill (Legg, 67), O'Sullivan; Williams (Roberts, 57), Nugent, Middleton. Substitutes not used: Jarman, Thomas, Kelly (gk).

Yeovil Town (3-5-2): Pennock; Hayfield, Brown, Cousins; Piper, Pounder (Pitman, 75), Thompson, Stott, Smith; Patmore, Dale (Appleton, 80). Substitutes not used: Tomkin, Franklin, Mountain (gk).

Referee: M Pierce (Portsmouth).

Bookings: Cardiff: Nugent. Yeovil: Brown.

Man of the match: Dale.

Attendance: 12,561.