Bluebirds' cross-border raid proves productive

Far from the glamour of the Millennium Stadium, Phil Shaw sees Cardiff stride on towards promotion
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The Independent Online

As English football decamped to the Welsh capital yesterday, some 2,000 of the Principality's inhabitants made a counter-incursion for another tussle between red and blue. They returned with the spoils, too, Cardiff City having beaten Kidderminster Harriers 4-2 to seize second place in the Third Division from Brighton on goal difference.

As English football decamped to the Welsh capital yesterday, some 2,000 of the Principality's inhabitants made a counter-incursion for another tussle between red and blue. They returned with the spoils, too, Cardiff City having beaten Kidderminster Harriers 4-2 to seize second place in the Third Division from Brighton on goal difference.

Kidderminster's homely Aggborough ground is to the Millennium Stadium what a Nissen hut would be to Canary Wharf. For Cardiff's boisterous following, it might have been Wembley itself as their team powered to victory.

There may have been 69,000 fewer spectators than at the Worthington Cup final, and no parachutists, fireworks or operatic tenors singing the national anthem. Where this match had the edge, however, was in goal-scoring. True, there was generous assistance from the goalkeepers, but it made for an entertaining spectacle.

Cardiff, the big spenders of the bottom section, may view the three points as vindication of their £2.5m outlay, although Jan Molby's Kidderminster side, assembled for £140,000, ran them closer than the score shows. Molby, who watched the second half from the stand after being "sent off" for disputing decisions too heatedly, was not being overly partisan when he claimed a draw would have been "a fair result".

Kidderminster looked set for a five-place leap towards the play-off zone when they took an early lead through Drewe Broughton's close-range shot. But goals shortly before the break by Scott Young and Jason Bowen, the first headed in from Andy Legg's corner and the second volleyed home after a run and cross by the same player, gave Cardiff the lead.

They were clinging to it until Daniel Gabbidon's shot exploited further weak defending by Kidderminster at a late corner. Even then, last year's Conference champions threatened to force a draw after Broughton converted Mark Shail's long pass, only for Rob Earnshaw to race on to Kurt Nogan's header in stoppage time to restore the two-goal margin.

As might be expected of a club in which the former Wimbledon triumvirate of Sam Hammam, Alan Cork and Bobby Gould hold the key positions, Cardiff are a big, strong outfit who exploit set-pieces fully. If the first trait is personified by Josh Low, a wing-back built like a centre-forward, the second is the domain of the diminutive Legg, whose prodigious throw-ins peppered the Kidderminster penalty box.

Molby rued what he saw as poor refereeing and sloppy defending. From the Cardiff perspective, Cork's assistant, Ian Butterworth, was perhaps unduly critical when he suggested that "we got away with it".

Meanwhile, the neutral was left to ponder a bizarre announcement midway through the contest when a gentleman from Stourbridge was implored to meet his wife for their Sunday roast dinner. For all the sound and fury, the Millennium stadium can have had nothing to match that moment.

Goals: Broughton (14) 1-0; Young (40) 1-1; Bowen (45) 1-2; Gabbidon (86) 1-3; Broughton (90) 2-3; Earnshaw (90) 2-4.

Kidderminster Harriers (4-4-2): Clarke; Clarkson, Shail, Hinton, Medou-Otye; Doyle (Bogie, 79), Webb (Durnin, 79), Smith (Ducros, h-t), Mackenzie; Bennett, Broughton. Substitutes not used: Hadley, Brock (gk).

Cardiff City (3-5-2): Walton; Young, Hughes, Legg; Low, Boland, Weston, Bowen (Earnshaw, 62), Gabbidon; Lightbourne (Nogan, 79), Brayson. Substitutes not used: Evans, Jordan, Collins (gk).

Referee: P Richards (Darwen).

Booking: Kidderminster: Doyle.

Man of the match: Legg.

Attendance: 4,317.

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