Crystal Palace 1-0 Cardiff City – as it happened
Crystal Palace took a big step towards the Carling Cup final
Peep! Peep! Peep! The final whistle does blow at last. Cardiff had a lot of possession, which wasn’t proportionate to the amount of ideas they had. Palace were limited, but defended magnificently, and took advantage of Tom Heaton’s balls-up. Anthony Gardner’s goal is one giant step towards Wembley, but Cardiff are more than capable of winning the second leg. Bye.
90 min+4: One last chance for Cardiff, as they win a corner on the left. Again it goes into the six-yard box, but Speroni just about punches away. Gunnarsson then gets a chance with a long throw, but Palace are simply too big in the area.
90 min+2: Two Palace defenders get in each other’s way as they look to clear a cross. Hilariously both miss it, but from the edge of the area, Taylor slashes over on the volley.
90 min: There will be four minutes for Palace to hold on.
89 min: At last, Cardiff wake up. Whittingham plays a one-two on the edge of the area, takes a touch, opens up his body and then sees his left-footer deflected inches past the left post with Speroni beaten. Jermaine Easter replaces Zaha.
88 min: Gunnarsson does well to beat Parr and then less well to fire well over from the edge of the area. Too little, too late from Cardiff, you’d have to say.
87 min: Hudson heads a corner back into the heart of the Palace goalmouth; Miller’s attempted overhead kick eventually serves as a very handy clearance for Palace.
85 min: Ralls is booked after cynically bringing down Ambrose, who had gone on an amazing, slinky run through the heart of the Cardiff midfield. He had Zaha to his left and Murray to his right, but wasn’;t allowed to make the pass. Just as well from a Cardiff point of view. Ambrose sends the free-kick into orbit.
84 min: Cardiff have run out of ideas.
79 min: Blake storms down the right and slips a pass into the area for Gunnarsson. He tees up Cowie for a shot that pings off Gardner and over to the left for Ralls, who slams an awkward shot high and wide.
78 min II: Sean Scannell comes on for Martin.
78 min: Ambrose curls a free-kick harmlessly over the top.
76 min: Ralls shoots straight at Speroni from long range. Meanwhile I feel compelled to inform Alan Parry that “a turn by Turner” is not a pun.
75 min: Stephen McPhail comes on for the anonymous Mason.
72 min: Zaha has been disappointing. He hasn’t beaten his man once.
71 min: Why do commentators ask if a striker “needs” to be offside? Obviously you “need” to be offside, it gives you an unfair advantage, but still, come on, stop being so stupid. (NB: Glenn Murray was just caught offside.)
70 min: I’m running out of things to say about this game.
66 min: McNaughton won’t continue – Mr Darcy Blake is on.
65 min: And suddenly Palace very nearly do launch one of those breaks. Cardiff are caught short at the back and Dikgacoi tries to play Zaha through, only to overhit the pass, allowing the covering Whittingham to steam in and clear. That’s followed by a break in play, Gardner receiving treatment for a cut on the eye and McNaughton going down with a knock.
63 min: Palace are inviting Cardiff on to them, hoping to catch them on the break. It’s a dangerous game.
59 min: In fairness, very few Cardiff players appealed against Dean’s decision. Maybe it was for a foul on a defender, because there wasn’t one on Speroni.
57 min: Cardiff will be fuming when they see this later. Whittingham whips the corner from the right to the far post, Speroni gets under it, it’s another goalkeeping mistake, and Miller heads in the equaliser – but Mike Dean had blown his whistle for a foul on the keeper before the ball went in. There was no foul from anyone.
56 min: This is the closest Cardiff have come all night. After a scramble involving Mason and Gardner in the six-yard box, the ball is half-cleared out to Ralls, whose bouncing volley drifts just wide of the far post. I’m not sure why, but a corner is awarded. Oh well.
55 min: It’s scrappy. Palace will be happy with that; it means Cardiff can’t attain any fluency at all.
53 min: Zaha plays Parr in down the left, the left-back racing to the byline. His cutback is mishit though and strikes Cowie on the thigh – not on the arm, despite the claims of the Palace fans behind the goal and Parr.
50 min: Zaha curls a teasing cross into the area, intended for Murray. Turner does well to head away, but the ball is instantly hammered back on the volley from the right by Ambrose, whose cross-shot is met by Martin, 12 yards out. It’s too quick for him to get on target though, the ball spiralling past the left post.
49 min: We”ve settled neatly back into the pattern of the first half: miscontrols, bad passes and lots of throws.
47 min: Ambrose whips a magnificent cross over McNaughton’s head, but Zaha’s control lets him down and the ball trundles out for a goal-kick.
46 min: Off we go again, with Palace having a very welcome lead to protect. “This game is so bad it makes my beloved Celtic’s SPL look decent,” says John Reid. “As a fan of a Championship team, is it always this bad?” Yes. It’s mostly rubbish, despite what they say.
Half time reading: Look at this Nathan Barley tool.
Half time: Crystal Palace 1-0 Cardiff. The goal is here. I assume.
Peep! Peep! There’s the half-time whistle. Palace lead thanks to Heaton’s error and Gardner’s height.
45 min: There will be one more minute of this filth. If any goal could sum up a match, that was it.
GOAL! Crystal Palace 1-0 Cardiff (Gardner, 43 min): I’m not saying Palace should thank me, but this goal coincided almost immediately with my decision to cover the match while lying down. Now that’s lazy journalism. From the left, Ambrose finally gets a free-kick right. It’s delivered at a flat height and tempts Heaton to come again. This time he’s nowhere near it, and Jedinak nods on to the far post, where the towering Gardner merely has to head into the empty net from close range.
41 min: Ralls drags a pointless shot wide from the edge of the area. Cardiff are yet to have a shot on target.
40 min: This fraternal row is now more interesting than the match. Here’s Ethan again. “He says to me last week: “yeah, we’ll go to a match at some point.” Then is able to get tickets for a pretty decent one and doesn’t even ask me. What kind of brother is that?”
He’s got tickets for Arsenal v Manchester United as well.
39 min: “I don’t want to turn this MBM into being all about me (I do), but Kalman’s got tickets to Man City-Liverpool?” says Brother Ethan. “You’d think he’d mention that to me. I can’t believe this guy.” This is like Cain and Abel.
34 min: “Just got tickets to the City vs Liverpool game tomorrow,” says Brother Kalman. “Though I can’t say I’m convinced that that will be much better.” Just wait to see how Liverpool disgrace themselves.
32 min: Another chance for Miller, after a poor clearance falls straight to him, 15 yards from goal. Instead of hitting it first time, he takes around seven minutes to sort his feet out and eventually his shot is blocked by Gardner.
30 min: Miller tries to bend one into the far corner from the left side of the area. Unfortunately he’s Kenny Miller.
30 min: “Never mind the face-drawing,” says Ethan Dean-Richards. “Without coordinating, me and my brother have written in to the same MBM. Count me in for next week’s suicide adventure.” Face-drawing with a potato peeler?
27 min: STOP PRESS! SOMETHING HAPPENS! A brilliant move from Palace down the left leaves Cardiff chasing shadows. Zaha breaks away and crosses towards Murray. He dummies it to Martin, who can’t quite turn, so tees up the onrushing Dikgacoi and the South African’s placer towards the bottom-right corner is parried away by Heaton. That was the best moment of a risible match.
25 min: “I’d rather sit drawing on my own face than watch this game,” says Ethan Dean-Richards. “Which is an insight into my evening.” Just think, I watch this standard of football every week at West Ham. Lucky me. No wonder I’m killing myself next week. What are you drawing on your face and what instrument are you using?
22 min: Hudson kicks Martin in the face. I want to kick Gunnarsson in the face. Martin wins a corner. Ambrose takes it and Heaton comes-a-flappin’ and gets away with it.
20 min: “Championship kits don’t look nearly as nice as Premier League ones,” says Kalman Dean-Richards. “I think that’s part of the reason that I don’t care about these teams. That and the bad football- this is an awful game.” And yet here we are. Cardiff have just done another long throw, from which they win a corner. I want them disbanded for this, I make that 423 long throws in the opening 20 minutes – imagine if this was against Stoke. From the corner from Whittingham corner, Turner gets above Gardner and nods just over the bar with Speroni beaten. He should have scored.
18 min: Ramage. Peter Ramage. A man with a face like a cardboard box and the footballing ability of all time. He’s just come up with the worst cross of all time, wafted high into the crowd and possibly crashing into the boxes in that weird half-stand behind the goal at Selhurst Park.
17 min: This is pish. My preamble vow is now worrying me.
16 min: Another long yawn from Gunnarsson. It’s headed away at the near post. Who booked Stoke?
14 min: A corner from which Palace probably should have scored. Ambrose’s cross comes to the far post, where Murray, ludicrously marked by Ralls, peels off his man and then completely messes up his header from 10 yards out, nodding it down into the ground and feebly past the left post.
13 min: Here’s the first glimpse of Zaha, found by Murray’s clever chestdown. He jinks past one player and then thwacks a shot into Taylor’s face, the ball spinning wide for a corner on the right.
11 min: There’s only one team in this. Miller’s cross from the right is deflected out to Ralls on the edge of the area. His fierce low shot hits a Palace player and Speroni does well to hold with Mason nearby.
11 min: Emails please!
10 min: Palace are a mess. They can’t keep hold of the ball at all.
8 min: Palace haven’t been in Cardiff’s half yet. Bring back Chris Armstrong.
7 min: Whittingham’s dire free-kick almost leads to a great chance for Gunnarsson. He scuffed it low and it took a deflection which nearly ran through to his team-mate, but Speroni was alert to the danger, quickly off his line to smother the ball.
6 min: Dikagoi brings down sexism’s Kevin McNaughton right on the edge of the area, just to the right of the D. Palace are all over the place. The break in play allows me to tell you Miller has picked up a knee injury and is hobbling about.
5 min: Palace have started as if half the side have been laid up on their sick-beds all week. Oh.
3 min: The Cardiff fans have released a smoke bomb. I assume that;s what it is anyway, and not just a reaction to a dodgy burger from outside the ground. “It’s been a fiery opening,” parps Talking Sky Man.
2 min: Cardiff are exerting plenty of pressure on Palace already, and the home side have already had to face three Gunnarsson missiles from the right flank. A fourth leads to a corner, taken by Whittingham, which is headed away.
1 min: Off we go. Palace, in their red and blue stripes, kick off, attacking from left to right. Cardiff are in their all-while away kit [Insert Luis Suarez joke here]. Cardiff are on the attack straight away, the ever-irritating Kenny Miller finding space in the box, but he can’t do anything with it. Gunnarsson then Delaps a throw into the area; it’s cleared.
Out they trot. The cameras showed plenty of posturing in the stands, between famous rivals Crystal Palace and Cardiff City. A bit of needle? I wouldn’t say no.
Roger Johnson really is on one tonight. Here’s what he had to say about being in the semi-final with Birmingham last year: “We went away to West Ham in the first leg, didn’t score and lost 1-0.”
They lost 2-1. But who cares Rog, it was only one of the biggest games of your career.
Team news. With Palace hit by a virus, they have been forced to make 10 changes. To keep it fair, Cardiff have made 10 changes too – but that’s a strong line-up, better than the one that lost at West Brom on Saturday. Watch out for the sparkling Wilfried Zaha up front for the home side.
Crystal Palace: Speroni; Ramage, McCarthy, Gardner, Parr; Zaha, Dikgacoi, Jedinak, Ambrose, Martin; Murray. Subs: Price, Wright, Garvan, Scannell, Easter, O’Keefe, Andrew.
Cardiff: Heaton; McNaughton, Hudson, Turner, Taylor; Cowie, Whittingham, Gunnarsson, Ralls, Mason; Miller. Subs: Marshall, Kiss, Gerrard, Earnshaw, Conway, Blake, McPhail.
Referee: Mike Dean (Wirral)
Roger Johnson is in the studio. All I can say about him is that he is dead behind the eyes.
Both sides beat Premier League opposition to get here. Palace had that marvellous win at Old Trafford, while Cardiff swatted aside Blackburn. It’s the first time there has been a semi-final without a Premier League side since 2000. 2p to whoever can guess what the game was.
I’m not really going to end my life next week. I’ll probably end it tonight if this game turns out to be pish, seeing as I actually volunteered to do it, having nothing better to do. But I’m optimistic. It’s a semi-final, and while most of the country can no longer be arsed with domestic up competitions, as evidenced by FA Cup weekend, these two sides will be bang up for this. Of course, they’re playing for the right to be schmiced by Manchester City or insulted by Liverpool, but there’s still a day out at Wembley to play for. Hopes of promotion are on hold for now; there are bigger things to play for, the romance of the Carling Cup. Because, after all, what fuels romance more than fizzy liver-destroyer?