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Cardiff City 1-2 Fulham FAC Rnd03 1617 - Wales On Line

last updated Monday 09th January 2017, 2:08 PM


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Paul Abbandonato at Wales On Line


Cardiff City (1) 1-2 (2) Fulham


Neil Warnock's Cardiff City crashed out of the FA Cup at the first time of asking as they fell to Fulham in front of a paltry crowd on Sunday morning.

The biggest talking point to come out of the game was the poor attendance, with gaping gaps in just about every area of the stands at Cardiff City Stadium.

The decision to televise the game with an 11.30am kick-off had caused plenty of controversy beforehand and the inevitable happened with fans of the two clubs voting with their feet.

It was made to look even worse because of the capacity attendances that we saw at some other venues during Match of the Day's third round coverage the previous evening.

The gate was reported to be 5,199.

Warnock didn't pick as weak a team as expected and his Bluebirds were actually handed a dream start when Anthony Pilkington's defelected free kick gave them an eighth minute lead.

But woeful defending down Cardiff's left enabled Stefan Johansen to grab an equaliser just six minutes after.

With 33 minutes on the clock, Fulham grabbed a second in similar fashion. This time it was Ryan Sessegnon who delivered the final blow.

That proved to be the winner. There was plenty of second-half huff and puff from the Bluebirds, but the game petered out.

It was almost as if the Cardiff players had got caught up in the complete lack of atmosphere in the near-empty ground, which was in stark contrast to the rip-roaring occasion we had witnessed during Monday's cracking 1-0 Championship win over Aston Villa.

These were the main issues to come out of the game...

The biggest talking point wasn't the final result, but the missing thousands.

There had already been plenty of disquiet from Fulham and also Cardiff fans about the 11.30am kick-off time to fit in with BBC Wales TV schedules.

Throw in the fact that Warnock made it abundantly clear he would not be picking his first team, plus a Championship club versus Championship club clash, and it had the ingredients of a paltry attendance.

Which is exactly what happened as TV viewers were given the sight of gaping gaps in the stands around Cardiff City Stadium.

The night before on Match of the Day, we had marvelled at bumper attendances and incredible atmospheres at stadia up and down the land.

The glamour of the FA Cup had returned for them, it seemed.

Not at Cardiff City Stadium unfortunately where some of the good work from from third round day 24 hours earlier was undone.

The former Wales and Lions rugby star has never been short of a controversy or three, but he sparked another by jumping on the bandwagon to have a pop at Bluebirds fans.

Powell's claims that Cardiff supporters 'must be the worst' was preposterous and something he should have thought twice about before posting on social media.

To compound matters for Cardiff followers, Powell twisted the knife further by goading them with 'at least Swansea are loyal'.

For some Cardiff fans that's as bad as it can get. A Wales rugby player having a go and comparing them less than favourably with their arch-rivals.

Cue the inevitable backlash as Powell's Twitter account was suddenly swamped with a barrage of criticism.

"I think I've ruffled a few feathers on this beautiful Sunday," he subsequently tweeted.

That was the understatement of the day.

Cardiff City and Cardiff Blues have always had a good rapport and share a training base at their Vale of Glamorgan HQ.

As a former Blues star, Powell was part of that when the two teams ground-shared for a while.

That's what made his decision to tweet such derisory comments even more mind-boggling.

Cardiff boss Neil Warnock could have gone the whole hog by making 11 changes from the team that beat Aston Villa on Monday, having made it clear after that game that reserves would get their chance.

As it was, Warnock named six of the starting XI from the Villa fixture - Brian Murphy, Sean Morrison, Sol Bamba, Joe Bennett, Joe Ralls and Kadeem Harris.

Anthony Pilkington, Rickie Lambert, Jazz Richards, Emyr Huws and debutant Greg Halford weren't a bad five to bring into the mix, either.

So it was a strong-looking Cardiff team that, on their own patch, should have been more than capable of overcoming Fulham.

They didn't... and the lack of atmosphere clearly played a part.

One of the biggest pluses to come out of this season thus far has been the emergence of a fit-again Joe Bennett as a left-back of quality.

He's looked the best Cardiff have had in that position for some time, combining pace, robust tackling and positional sense with a willingness to get forward and help on the overlap.

Bennett was talked about a few years back as a potential England player and many of those qualities were coming out.

But he was roasted by Fulham's right-sided Ryan Fredericks in the first-half of this game, completely outpaced and in some ways responsible for the vistitors' two goals.

Maybe the defender was just rusty because of the early kick-off, but Cardiff would rather see the real Joe Bennett stand up again against Bristol City at the weekend.

This was a big opportunity for Welsh duo Jazz Richards and Emyr Huws, brought on board during the summer by Paul Trollope but who have featured little in recent times.

Neither really stamped their authority on this game, though, and that was particularly disappointing for Huws who has yet to show Cardiff fans his real ability.

He has so much going for him, presence, tackling, box to box ability, heading strength, a knack of scoring goals. But there were too many wayward passes in this one and Warnock is almost certain to revert to Aron Gunnarsson and Peter Whittingham (if fit) for Bristol City.

Cardiff can concentrate on the League

It's one of the oldest cliches in football, but it's true in the case of the Bluebirds.

As it was for Swansea after they had lost at Hull a day earlier.

Warnock made it clear with his team selection the FA Cup very much plays second fiddle to climbing up the Championship.

That is the manager's priority and he can focus his entire energies upon it.

There is to be no repeat of Cardiff City's 200 FA Cup Final appearance eight years on.

Not that anyone really anticipated that, anyway.























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