Cardiff City 2 Derby County 2: Derby drag Ridsdale's Bluebirds back down to earth

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The Independent Online

How many club chairmen could football fans name apart from the one at their own team? Not many perhaps, but there is certainly one out there whom people might remember, even if they are not Leeds United or Cardiff City supporters.

Peter Ridsdale is the man, of course. This game saw him officially installed as the Bluebirds' chairman.

It started off with him warmly receiving the fans' acclaim and his beaming face being broadcast on the rather fuzzy jumbo screen. It did not end the way he wished, however, when Derby's Giles Barnes thumped in the equaliser deep into injury time. He just had to be grateful that Steven Howard directed his shot wide seconds later.

Leeds fans have no time for Ridsdale, who was in charge when they reached the Champions' League semi-finals in 2001 but who also overspent, famously "living the dream" before financial collapse and relegation overwhelmed the West Yorkshire side.

The Cardiff jury is out on Ridsdale who, despite his calamitous running of Leeds, is still permitted under League rules to take charge of another club. One school of thought around the Welsh club is that he is an opportunist with fabulous timing, as the Bluebirds are top of the Championship. Another goes that, he did not take Leeds down deliberately and was simply inept. That is not all that comforting when the plan is for Cardiff to move to a new stadium, due for completion in late 2008. As Ridsdale put it, there is not enough scope for corporate hospitality at Ninian Park. Cardiff fans might be less than delighted to see that is one of his priorities.

He has outlined his plan as one that assumes the club will stay in the Championship and it is encouraging that Ridsdale is not stacking everything on promotion this season. At Leeds, he banked on Champions' League football every year, wages and transfer fees went up accordingly and the club were doomed.

Promotion will not be a given if Cardiff waste opportunities such as Saturday's. Twice ahead, three points were theirs for the taking against an unambitious mid-table Derby side.

Michael Chopra, despite a goal involving fine build-up play from Paul Parry and Steven Thompson, will not look back on this game with much fondness, having wasted a host of chances, and it took Glenn Loovens' header to break the deadlock. Howard replied with one of his own, as the hosts displayed a certain waywardness in defence.

There were T-shirts saying "Thanks for the memories," in honour of Ridsdale's predecessor, Sam Hamman, after six years at the helm. It remains to be seen if they end up printing similar ones in Ridsdale's honour.

Goals: Loovens (52) 1-0; Howard (66) 1-1; Chopra (74) 2-1; Barnes (90) 2-2.

Cardiff City (4-4-2): Alexander; Chambers, Purse, Loovens (R Johnson, 62), McNaughton; Parry, Scimeca, McPhail, Ledley; Chopra, Thompson. Substitutes not used: M Howard (gk), Flood, Campbell, Kamara.

Derby County (4-3-3): Bywater; Edworthy, Leacock, M Johnson (Jackson, 22), Camara; Bisgaard (Barnes, 73), Oakley, S Johnson; Lupoli, Stead (Smith, 80), S Howard. Substitutes not used: Grant (gk), Bolder.

Referee: A Marriner (West Midlands).

Man of the match: Parry.

Attendance: 17,371.

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