Not a revelation but better than most

SUPPORTERS driving into the Welsh capital are welcomed by the sight of a gleaming blue and white stadium that will be Cardiff City's new home come August.

Derek Davis

SUPPORTERS driving into the Welsh capital are welcomed by the sight of a gleaming blue and white stadium that will be Cardiff City's new home come August.

Towering above the new build are the old fashioned pylon style floodlights of Ninian Park and just beyond those is a glimpse of the Millennium Stadium.

The scene encapsulates the past present and future of Cardiff with this game, the last league match before the Bluebirds move across the road to their new home, and Premier League football they hope for.


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For Ipswich Town, the future strode out of the tunnel on to the famous old ground in a black coat, chewing his gum and made his way immediately to City boss Dave Jones and the pair shook hands warmly and had a little chat.

There was also a friendly exchange and handshakes all around at the end when Roy's reign began with a fine win, even if the scoreline was somewhat flattering.

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Town only had four shots on target, and one off, but they took their chances and banged in three good quality goals, although it could all have been so different if Richard Wright had not saved a penalty when it was goalless.

Although it was not exactly a revelation, the performance was better than most this season as the team showed plenty of passion and endeavour, but still looked far more relaxed than they have in a long time.

The key was clearly the manager's approach by demanding effort but not through fear, and his own demeanour was reflected in the play.

For one thing, despite being hampered by injuries in defence even before kick off, Keane used round pegs in round holes, it was that simple.

Changes were already evident in the initial warm up taken by Simon Thadani with Roy Keane's youthful looking assistant Tony Loughlan then taking them through their paces.

Matt Richards, who has not played for Town in more than two-years, was unrecognisable from the lad that played in the 2-0 loss at Plymouth in April 2007 with his now long hair brushed back.

He also looked a different character playing with vim and a new found freedom and put on a superb display, especially given he ahs not played a senior competitive game for anyone since last December at Brighton.

Richards is one of 13 players out of contract in the summer, Alex Bruce and Iv�n Campo were others on show while Tommy Miller came off the bench.

If they were worried about their futures it did not show as they just got stuck in and did their job.

Bruce was forced off with a dislocated thumb after a committed sliding tackle but a bit of strapping and some painkillers and he should be back for the Coventry game.

He will be needed as Jaime Peters, making his first start in two years, was forced out with injury after an impressive showing at right back.

But while the team were all playing for their futures this first game, as much as he tried to play it down, was all about Keane.

The City fans created a brilliant atmosphere but all eyes were on the tunnel before kick off waiting for Keane's arrival and the bank of photographers marked the occasion as the Town fan sang his name.

There is only one Keano apparently.

He stood leaning against the inside of the dugout, hands thrust in pockets and was unmoved when a penalty was given against Iv�n Campo who had pulled down Roger Johnson as City laid siege in the opening quarter of an hour.

The hands were out to applaud Town's players' player of the year Wright, who saved low down to his right to deny Ross McCormack from the spot.

Keane enjoyed some banter with the fourth official and started to stay more and more away from the dug-out, prowling the technical area words of encouragement but no ranting or raving even when mistakes were made.

Town's believe grew and with Stead on for Bruce they went to two up front and it paid off.

Stead took a ball over the top, held off a Mark Kennedy challenge and when he got to the by-line pulled back and Pablo Counago who had found space, finished confidently.

The Town fans called on Keano to 'give us a wave' - he obliged. When they asked again in the second half it more of a 'leave me to get on with my job' as he talked with Loughan about what tweaks to make.

That decision was made for them when Peters was forced off with injury, Alan Quinn went on the left and Norris dropped to right back.

But not before Peters had burst up the right wing, got across in for Stead who, seeing there was no shot on for him, laid the ball into the path of Norris, who had timed his run into the box perfectly, and drove home.

A goal any former Manchester United midfielder would be proud of and Norris produced the baby swing celebration

Haynes replaced Counago just before hour mark and it was noticeable that Keane shook the Spaniard's hand as he came off and gave him a pat on the back. And he did the same when Peters limped off.

Cardiff, desperate for a point that would secure a play-off place, battled for a come back but Town's defence throughout was resolute. Epitomised by an outstanding tackle by Richards on substitute Michael Chopra who had burst through the middle and was about to pull the trigger when the left back nicked the ball off his toes.

It was a bout seeing the game out now and while Giovani dos Santos was booked for time wasting when he kicked the ball away, Keane showed a deft touch with a back heel that sent the ball spinning away to waste more seconds.

Although Town sat back after the second goal it was they found a third after Gabor Gyepes gave away a silly free kick on dos Santos, 25 yards out, centre of goal.

Just as he had at Bristol City, Iv�n Campo curled the free kick over the wall and this time it hit a post but the ever alert Stead reacted quicker than any Cardiff player and was on hand to tap in the rebound.

Job done and while there is still plenty to sort out it was an encouraging glimpse into the future for Ipswich Town while City fans bade a fond farewell to their rand old stadium. Although they home to have one more game next month in the play offs.

A top six finish like Cardiff is the least Town will aspire to next year and trips to even bigger and better stadiums the following season.

derek.davis@eadt.co.uk

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