We started smartly and very positively, no punting to the touchline this week, just some neat simple passes which reaped almost instant rewards – though not from Eagles’ first touch forty-five yards out, despite this being greeted with cries of “Shoot!” Our first attack won a corner and led to the Hammer’s best effort of the whole match, which whistled past the far post after less than a minute’s play. But almost for the next eighty-nine, it seemed, the ball avoided the muddy pitch as much as possible, and was thus at the wind’s mercy. Despite spending most of the first half in the Cardiff penalty area, it also avoided the net, despite us forcing corner after corner, and some great crosses coming in from Eagles on the right. Cardiff’s defending was frantic early on, the ball even winding up near my old seat in the Upper Rous, which is more than it ever managed when I sat there week after week a few years ago. Where Darius would normally be alongside Marlon, up stepped Malky Mackay, and his was the eleventh minute header that first looked like breaking the deadlock. It beat Cardiff keeper Alexander, unlike many later efforts, but rebounded off the bar and Demerit couldn’t get his own header past Alexander’s impressive reach.