Unsung Cardiff stars deserve praise

Monday 16th September 2013 8:15

Don Cowie: Has been valuable for Cardiff

Don Cowie: Has been valuable for Cardiff

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Cardiff City FanZoner Ivor Castle reflects on a hard-earned point at Hull City, and praises Malky Mackay's squad depth and unassuming heroes.

Against Hull City last Saturday, Cardiff added another precious point to the total manager Malky Mackay has calculated will be need to remain in the Premier League come next May.

The long trip to Humberside was beset with problems. First choice goalkeeper David Marshall was injured playing for Scotland and unable to take his place between the sticks. Secondly, talisman Craig Bellamy needed resting after two games for Wales thereby allowing him to relieve his aching and aging knees.

Other headaches were caused by Kim Bo-Kyung (South Korea) and Gary Medel (Chile) both having flown halfway around the world on international duty. Kim only made it to half-time at the KC Stadium while Medel battled on but had his quietest game yet for the Bluebirds.

You can also add in the trip itself to East Yorkshire, which should have taken place Friday by airplane from Cardiff Airport but ended up as a hastily arranged coach trip due to flight delays and aircraft problems.

With the totality of these issues not helping, the point was a well-earned one and thoroughly deserved despite the Tigers edging the shot count, if not the possession graph.

In adversity sometimes opportunity knocks and as the door opens it can shine a revealing light. What shone for Cardiff was a number of good things.

One; that stand-in goalkeeper Joe Lewis was an admirable, confident deputy on the day and hopefully for the future.

Two; that the often-maligned Don Cowie still has a part to play. Cowie was a rare starter in the Championship winning team last season and along with most other pundits, I believed he would be released or loaned out, regarded as surplus to requirements at the Cardiff City Stadium for Premier League duty. Instead it was fellow Scot and winger Craig Conway who found himself out in the cold and on loan at Brighton.

How wrong could I have been about Cowie? Malky Mackay made the former Watford man a priority recruit from his old club just as soon as he took over at Cardiff and the unassuming Scot is proving a valuable squad member to this day. He lacks the flair and sparkle of most of his midfield teammates but what he lacks there he makes up for in solid efficiency and technique. He is Mackay's man and understands Mackay's way of playing.

Other pluses that emerged were the performance of new right full-back Kevin Theophile-Catherine, who looked assured and pacey, something his predecessor Matt Connolly unfortunately lacks.

Peter Whittingham popped up in the penalty area to finish off the slick move which led to the Bluebirds' equaliser, from the advanced position allowed him by Kim's exit and Cowie's industry. It was a good time for Whittingham to break his goal drought.

Off the bench, Nicky Maynard contributed the cross for Whittingham's goal and Rudy Gestede offered a different dimension to the withdrawn Fraizer Campbell. Another surprise on the day was not seeing new signing Peter Odemwingie from West Brom make his debut.

Being able to leave Odemwingie sitting out probably reveals as much about the current squad depth as anything. How tempted must Mackay have been to throw the Nigerian international on? Although like most things about former banker Malky Mackay, there's not much of a gamble taken on anything, it's all very calculated and considered, just ask Craig Conway or Don Cowie.

By Ivor Castle.

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