Cardiff City 2 Wolverhampton 0: Hasselbaink's magic gives Cardiff taste for history
Monday 18 February 2008
On Saturday morning, Peter Ridsdale, blessed with that wonderful sense of timing of his, revealed that a statue of Fred Keenor, the captain of the 1927 FA Cup winners, will be taking pride of place at the new stadium currently being built across the road from Ninian Park. Well, the Cardiff City chairman may just have to commission another one now.
No, not of himself – although there is the remotest of chances that the thought could have crossed his mind – but rather of Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink. The Dutchman appears to have made it his final mission on earth (he is 35, after all) to transport the Bluebirds back to a place they must have doubted they would ever see again.
Wembley is but one step away and despite that constituting only a semi-final and not the glorious final of the last time they were allowed up there, the much-maligned fans of South Wales appreciate that bad buggers can't be choosers.
Eighty one years ago they all travelled up to the capital on train and, though it may take a little longer to reach Paddington on this modern rail system, they will be gathered around their radio sets at 1.30pm today praying for one more kindly draw to provide the one-way ticket to the "Home of English football". Not for them the dilemma of the cash-cow or the easy slay. They would take Bristol Rovers at home over Manchester United away without any hesitation.
After this most straightforward of 2-0 victories, Jones was asked which he would prefer. "Just give me a home tie," he said. "But my chairman would probably opt for the 80,000 at Old Trafford."
That has become a common theme of late – indeed, it has long been on that ever-expanding roll-call of FA Cup clichés – but such is the openness of this year's competition that it does not have the usual ring of truth. Ridsdale could be seen punching the air after Hasselbaink's spectacular curler in the 11th minute, just the 10 minutes after a sublime touch had given Peter Whittingham the ideal beginning. In fairness, Ridsdale's enthusiasm seemed that of a fan and not an accountant. And, anyway, the figures do not add up like normal. The receipts of a full-house at Wembley are worthy of the wait and the risk of one more round.
Not that Mick McCarthy sees anything but gloom and certain doom for that group of non-Premier League dreamers laying siege on the quarter-finals. Saying that, his cynical mood could, perhaps, be put down to what he described as Wolves's "worst performance of the season".
Mick, is this the year a team from the Championship will win the Cup? "No," came the abrupt response. Why not? "Why do you think? We played Millwall in the semi-final when I was at Sunderland, they beat us and then got a right hiding in the final against United. That's what happens, I'm afraid." Still, at least possession of this utterly futile hope might have diverted Wolves's attention from the mid-table stagnation that beckons them for the rest of this campaign.
McCarthy called himself "embarrassed" by this tepid surrender and declared: "Any stick the fans are giving out to us tonight is thoroughly deserved." Wolves never looked like forcing their way back into it after Hasselbaink's startling opening and whether McCarthy likes it or not, the pressure on him grows.
For the record, McCarthy does not like it. "I take issue with you asking me that question," he told the BBC man when quizzed on his position being under-pressure. "I don't appreciate you asking me about my job like that and I'm not sure you necessarily should." The intrepid inquisitor pressed on. "I've just answered your question," McCarthy snapped. "If I was you, I'd leave it where it is." Fortunately, he did. Match of the Day already had quite enough footage of poor dolts being knocked out.
Goals: Whittingham (2 ), 1-0; Hasselbaink (11), 2-0.
Cardiff City (4-4-2): Enckelman; McNaughton, Johnson, Loovens, Capaldi; Whittingham (Sinclair 90), Rae, McPhail (Blake 90), Ramsey; Parry, Hasselbaink (Thompson 76). Substitutes not used: Oakes, Purse.
Wolverhampton Wanderers (4-3-3): Hennessey; Foley (Gibson 63), Breen, Craddock, Gray; Henry, Olofinjana (Eastwood 40), Potter; Kyle (Elliott 62), Bothroyd, Keogh. Substitutes not used: Rob Edwards, Stack.
Bookings: Cardiff: McPhail, Thompson. Wolves: Craddock, Gibson, Bothroyd.
Referee: R Styles.
Man of the match: Hasselbaink.
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