Cardiff City 2 Birmingham City 0: Parry opens eyes to promised land
Sunday 27 August 2006
After an awkward week of co-habitation between these sides at the top of the Championship, Cardiff City moved out and three points away. Never the happiest when in each other's company, as proved when riot police had to stop Birmingham fans throwing seats, the separation was ultimately neat if not so amicable.
Yet Dave Jones had tried, in his programme notes, to downplay the significance of this game, saying that at such an early stage of the season there was no need to get too excited about it. But the Cardiff City manager had clearly passed on a different message to his players who swarmed all over Birmingham City inside Ninian Park, which was sold out for a League game for the first time in 45 years, when Tottenham were the visitors and they were playing in the original First Division.
Spurs went on to win the League that year and both Cardiff and Birmingham harbour such ambitions this season, albeit one rung lower. For the midlands club it would also mean an instant return to the Premiership while for the Welsh side it would lead to a first appearance in the top flight since 1962.
Keeping up the levels needed to remain at the top of the Championship is a question both Jones and his opposite number Steve Bruce will have to address over the next few months but there was no doubt here that Cardiff were intent on harrying the Blues for as long as they could. As Jones said: "We started like a house on fire and rose to the occasion. We're gelling and getting better and stronger." It worked after just 13 minutes. Michael Chopra had already seen a snap-shot saved when Kevin McNaughton also made Colin Doyle divert his effort. From the ensuing corner played short, Chopra cut the ball back to Joe Ledley, who found the bottom corner of Doyle's net.
For a team who had started the season so well, Birmingham were passive and short on ideas, something that changed when Bruce added a twist to the game by bringing on Cameron Jerome, whom he signed from Cardiff this summer. He missed a chance soon after and Bruce was not just referring to that when he said: "We played poorly. We didn't freeze but only three or four players performed today." That miss was vital as, with 15 minutes remaining, Cardiff sealed victory. Ledley crossed and Steve Thompson helped it on to Paul Parry who was on hand at the far post to score Cardiff's second and leave their former bedfellows behind.
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