Cardiff's nearly men fail to beat the boos

Cardiff City 1 Blackpool 1: Hard-earned draw is not good enough for fans suspicious that promised millions for new players will not materialise
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The Independent Football

Fourth in the Championship, a new stadium and a valiant effort to beat the freeze and stage one of the few matches in Britain yesterday. So why the resounding chorus of boos which rang out at the end of Cardiff's draw with their play-off rivals?

Ian Holloway was certainly at a loss to understand it. "What's all that about?" asked the Blackpool manager. "I'm gobsmacked. Dave Jones has done wonders here. Their fans should look at the table. Is it because they expected to whup our backsides? Well, if they did more fool them. We're a good team. What are they moaning about?"

The Cardiff dissenters would no doubt point to the finances. The club are under the threat of a winding-up order if a £2.7 million tax bill is not paid by 10 February. Peter Ridsdale, the Cardiff chief executive, is insistent that it will be paid in 10 days, although not everyone, for whatever reason, is inclined to believe the former Leeds chairman.

Conspiracy theories abound in the capital that the £3m raised by a recent season-ticket offer will not, as promised, go towards purchasing new players. On Friday Ridsdale received an abusive email from one supporter. His reply was short, but perhaps understandable. "Get stuffed," it read.

The reaction here was as if Cardiff had indeed been stuffed, and not, as Jones put it, "gained a hard-earned point". As their position of seventh in the League proves, Blackpool are no mugs, even if they played like ones in the first half. "My team didn't turn up," said Holloway. "We could have been more than one down."

He was right. The deficit could and should have been two, possibly three, at the break. Mark Hudson's opener in the ninth minute, when he arrived at the far post to head home Chris Burke's free-kick, gave Cardiff the foundation to construct 45 minutes of domination. Yet their building work continued to fall agonisingly short.

Ross McCormack's lob nearly punished Blackpool again shortly afterwards, and 10 minutes later Josh Magennis, making his first League start, was unlucky to see his header hit the bar. The 19-year-old suffered more painful misfortune a little while later when fracturing his leg. It was strange that Michael Chopra was on the bench and even stranger still when Jones chose to replace his stricken front-man with the back-from-loan Warren Feeney. Yet a Peter Whittingham free-kick almost ducked under the bar in the 40th minute to double the home lead.

As it was, after a Holloway rant, Blackpool came out firing and within a minute they were level. Charlie Adam danced through, played a one-two with Ben Burgess and calmly slotted past his fellow Scotland international David Marshall. Where the home defence had been was a matter of some conjecture, although soon, as the visitors began to impose their superiority, the questioning became of a different nature.

Inevitably, the chant of "Where's the money gone?" rang out. Meanwhile, the action had flip-flopped from the first half, with Blackpool now in total command. Jones later revealed that some of his players were playing with a virus and "had run out of gas". As the seconds counted down, Marshall did what he had been doing for 45 minutes and came to Cardiff's rescue, diving to turn away Burgess's sweetly hit left-footer, although Whittingham nearly stole it at the death with an audacious free-kick.

But then the final whistle sounded and the anger rained down from the stands. Holloway was even less impressed than Jones. "They were disrespecting my team, booing like that," he said. "That's an insult where I came from. It's like chucking a rusty bucket down my well, or taking out my sister and never ringing her up again. I'm telling you, it's not bloody on."

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