Promising display yields a point
Cardiff Substitute Craig Noone produced a stunning late strike to earn Cardiff a 1-1 draw in their Sky Bet Championship opener at home to Fulham. Cardiff seemed to be running out of ideas when Noone, who had been on the pitch for only eight minutes, rifled a 25-yard shot into the top corner of the net with only four minutes remaining.
What had been an evenly-balanced contest turned Fulham’s way when Matt Smith punished Simon Moore’s goalkeeping error two minutes after the re-start.
Moore, deputising for suspended West Brom target David Marshall, misjudged Ben Pringle’s overhit cross and spilled the ball for the alert Smith to head home from close range.
Cardiff welcomed back Kagisho Dikgacoi and Anthony Pilkington after injury-riddled spells last season and both players were influential in the early stages as the Bluebirds sought an early advantage.
Pilkington set up Joe Mason for a second-minute shot which was blocked by Dan Burn before Dikgacoi rolled an exquisite ball into the wideman’s path.
The Republic of Ireland international picked out Mason at the near post but the striker was stretching and unable to hit the target.
Fulham’s response was immediate as Matt Smith almost profited from the hesitation of Moore as the big striker headed against the outside of a post.
Smith’s aerial ability produced the visitors’ best moments of an entertaining first period, rising above Cardiff defenders but unable to keep down crosses from Jamie O’Hara and Kay Voser.
Cardiff were enjoying the greater share of possession and they were at their most dangerous when they managed to get Mason, back at the club after spending last season on loan at Bolton, into the game.
Pilkington found him with a neat ball and Mason’s sharp spin and shot on the turn forced a flying save from Andy Lonergan and the Fulham goalkeeper had to deny the same player with his feet following a clever flick from Alex Revell.
Cardiff almost took the lead within 40 seconds when Pilkington’s deflected shot looped onto the crossbar but Fulham were ahead a minute later.
The Bluebirds thought they had equalised four minutes later when Pilkington got the final touch but referee Darren Bond had spotted a handball and booked the winger for ungentlemanly conduct.
Cardiff pressed frantically for an equaliser in the final quarter and Mason and Scott Malone both went close before Noone’s late strike.
Moore 4 – disappointing display from Marshall’s understudy. Got lucky in the first half when he misjudged a cross and Fulham then hit the post. Was badly at fault for the goal early in the second half when he failed to deal with a ball just under his crossbar.
Peltier 6 – solid throughout
Morrison 6.5 – Had a good battle with Smith, who presented an aerial threat to Cardiff. Stuck to the task and captained the side well. He had a shot blocked on the line at the other end as well.
Connelly 6.5 – Defended well and made one great block; there was one anxious moment late in the game when he was muscled out of it, but got back to clear the danger. Some of his passing was uncharacteristically wayward today.
Malone 7.5 – Full of confidence & energy, he looked a different player today. Man of the match
Pilkington 7 – He was in good form and got some dangerous crosses into the box, he also hit the bar from a chance he manufactured himself.
Dikgacoi 6.5 – Could be a key player this season. He took responsibility well in front of the back four. Played one quality, defensive splitting, pass that showed he is a player with vision.
Whittingham 6.5 – Mixed game for Whitts; he played a number of quality balls through the Fulham defensive but saw a few others cut out.
Ralls 6.5 – Busy throughout, the balance of this midfield seems better than last season.
Revell 5 – Struggled to make an impact and was replaced by Ameboi in the 63rd minute.
Mason 6.5 – he had plenty of chances; he saw one blocked; put another wide and had three others well saved by their keeper. He will be disappointed he didn’t score.
Ameboi 5.5 – Introduced in the 63rd minute as City chased the game. He showed flashes of skill but didn’t get a sight of goal.
Noone 6.5 – Came on in the 77th minute. Scored a great equaliser when he cut back in from the right and found the top corner from 25 yards.
Good away win brings season to an end
Ten-man Cardiff held on for a 2-1 win at Nottingham Forest to ensure a frustrating end to the season for Dougie Freedman’s side and ease some of the pressure on Bluebirds boss Russell Slade.
The Cardiff manager had come under fire for failing to deliver a promotion challenge with the Welsh club this season – but the former Notts County manager enjoyed his return to his hometown, as first half goals from Joe Ralls and Eoin Doyle put his side in control.
Dexter Blackstock did pull one back in injury time, following the 76th minute dismissal of keeper David Marshall for an apparent head-butt on Jamaal Lascelles.
But it was Freedman who was to end the afternoon frustrated, after seeing the Reds notch up a fourth consecutive home defeat, amid a limp finish to the campaign.
Forest’s frustrating season looked destined for a fitting finale by half time, with Cardiff completely in command. The home fans had hoped to see their side end their run of seven games without a win, but that looked unlikely following an opening 45 minutes that had been dominated by the visitors.
Cardiff took the lead with what was their first real attack in the 14th minute, and took charge from that moment on. The goal came as a cross-shot from Joe Mason took a huge deflection, sending the ball looping to the far post, where Ralls was allowed the time and space to apply an emphatic first-time finish, sending a shot high into the roof of the net from six yards.
Forest’s response was minimal, with Michail Antonio lashing a shot into the side netting from the edge of the box and Henri Lansbury curling another long range effort high and wide, by only foot or so.
Instead it was Doyle who made it 2-0 in the 24th minute, as Forest’s defensive vulnerability was exposed again. Karl Darlow parried a driven, powerful shot from Stuart O’Keefe, but could only direct the ball out to the right flank, where Matthew Kennedy was well placed to fire the ball back into the danger zone. This time it was Doyle given the time and space to apply the finish, heading decisively home, inside the post.
Cardiff might have put the game almost beyond doubt, with Ralls bending a powerful free kick only inches wide of the post from 20-yards, as Forest struggled to get a foothold in the game.
Half time substitute Chuba Akpom almost made an impact with his first touch, forcing a smart save from David Marshall, diving low to his right, with a shot that he failed to properly connect with.
But Forest rarely looked like finding their way back into the game until a moment of madness from Cardiff keeper David Marshall left the visitors down to 10 men.
Marshall was shown a red card by referee Peter Bankes, after he appeared to head-butt Lascelles, right in front of the match official. It left Cardiff a man short for the final 14 minutes.
Substitute keeper Simon Moore made a fine save to deny Blackstock and Ben Turner cleared a Michael Mancienne effort off the line.
Blackstock did manage to pull one back for Forest in the 91st minute, converting a cross from substitute Jamie Paterson at the near post. But Cardiff held out for the win.
Home season ends with a win
Two penalties from Eoin Doyle helped Cardiff condemn relegated Blackpool to a full Sky Bet Championship season without an away victory thanks to a 3-2 victory at the City Stadium.
Joe Mason’s early strike fired the hosts into the lead, with Doyle doubling their advantage after Henry Cameron had fouled Aron Gunnarsson.
Andrea Orlandi’s goal gave the visitors hope of mounting a comeback, but Doyle killed off their chances following Miles Addison’s foul on Mason before Peter Clarke’s late consolation.
It was just Cardiff’s second home win in 11 games, while for Lee Clark’s men this was a 17th game without a victory as they prepare for the drop down into the third tier.
The basement club will need a point from their final fixture against Huddersfield to avoid posting the lowest points tally in Championship history.
While the Seasiders were seeking to avoid the unwanted record of going a whole season without an away win, their hosts needed a win to avoid posting their lowest home points haul over a Championship season.
They started well, and after Bright Osayi-Samuel had missed a chance for the visitors, they took the lead.
Craig Noone found Doyle down the Cardiff right and, when Blackpool failed to deal with his cross, Mason swivelled and sent his close-range shot beyond keeper Elliot Parish via a deflection off Peter Clarke.
The Bluebirds were soon pressing again, with Fabio overlapping down the left and sending in a cross which hit the bar.
The second goal arrived in the 31st minute. Cameron dallied as he retrieved a loose pass in his own area and tripped Gunnarsson as the Cardiff midfielder caught him unawares.
Doyle made no mistake from the spot, driving the ball into the bottom right-hand corner.
Blackpool desperately needed a response and they got one from substitute Orlandi after just two minutes of the second period.
The former Swansea man’s first contribution was to cut in from the right and expertly curl his shot beyond the reaches of David Marshall.
Cardiff were suddenly nervy, Marshall anxiously watched a deflected Charles Dunne shot bounce just wide, while Bruno Manga made a superb block as Clarke, by now playing up front for the visitors, prepared to dispatch a volley into the net.
But the game was settled 15 minutes from time when Mason went down after contact with Addison just inside the area and, once again, Doyle held his nerve to score from the spot and take his tally for the season to 29.
Clarke did at least get a consolation goal for Blackpool in stoppage time, as he turned home Jamie O’Hara’s cross, but it was too little, too late,
O’Keefe 6 (for Ralls 22 mins)
Pilkington 6.5 (for Noone 70 mins)
Maynard 6 (For Mason 85 mins)
Millwall picked up what could be a valuable point in their battle to beat relegation from the SkyBet Championship thanks to a dour 0-0 draw at Cardiff.
Neil Harris’ Lions could have closed the gap to safety to two points had they won, and they so nearly took all three points with Mark Beevers striking the bar early in the second half.
As it is they are now four points back of Rotherham with three games remaining, although the Millers could yet be docked points for fielding an ineligible player against Brighton.
Cardiff, meanwhile, continue to struggle to reproduce their away form on home turf. Striker Eoin Doyle missed their best chance to improve a record which now reads just one win in 10 matches at Cardiff City Stadium.
The visitors almost made the worst of starts as Joe Mason slipped away from his marker to flick a Joe Ralls cross just wide of the far post.
It was the only notable incident of a cagey opening 15 minutes, with Millwall committing few men to their attacks, preferring to ensure solidity at the back.
Neither side threatened to carve the other open and instead it took an error from Cardiff defender Sean Morrison to give Millwall their first sight of goal, but Lee Martin could not profit after Aiden O’Brien had picked off an errant pass.
Morrison nearly made amends for his error as he headed a perfect Peter Whittingham corner over the bar, while a sharp block by Beevers was needed to prevent Doyle running in on goal after good work from Craig Noone and Aron Gunnarsson.
Whittingham soon worked David Forde with his left-footed strike from distance, which the goalkeeper eventually clung on to after making a meal of gathering the tame effort.
Doyle should have given the home side the lead in the 36th minute as he created the only clear opportunity of the first half.
The former Chesterfield man brilliantly controlled Lee Peltier’s clipped pass and raced beyond Sid Nelson into the area, but he dallied as he bore down on goal and opted to try and find Mason instead of going for goal himself and the chance was lost.
Millwall were on the back foot and were fearing they were about to go a man down when referee Mark Brown whistled sharply following Lee Gregory’s studs-up tackle on Bruno Manga, but the official eventually chose to only produce a yellow card.
Still Cardiff pressed, with Ralls’ cross coming back of the face of the bar with Forde flapping, while David Marshall made his first meaningful save at the other end from Gregory’s strike in first-half stoppage time.
Having established a foothold in the game, the visitors began to show more adventure at the start of the second half, and were unfortunate not to take the lead five minutes after the break.
Cardiff failed to clear a corner and Beevers’ shot beat Marshall but not the crossbar as the ball came down and out, while Manga blocked Gregory’s follow-up.
Morrison’s erratic afternoon in the Cardiff defence soon gave them another chance. Martin robbed the Bluebirds centre-half but O’Brien’s strike was saved by Marshall.
Harris sent on Gary Taylor-Fletcher and Ricardo Fuller late on and they nearly combined for the winner, only for the former to stand on the latter’s pull-back just eight yards out.
On for Malone 22 minutes
On for Ralls 64 minutes
On for Noone 85 minutes
Cardiff’s unbeaten away sequence comes to an end
Cole Skuse scored his first competitive goal in just under three years as Ipswich beat Cardiff 3-1 to maintain their push for a Sky Bet Championship play-off spot.
Ipswich took an eighth-minute lead when Freddie Sears’ scored his fourth goal in four games but the promotion hopefuls were quickly pegged back by Eoin Doyle’s close-range header.
The home side regained their lead when Skuse struck from 25 yards out before Daryl Murphy made the points safe in stoppage time with his 24th of the season.
With just four games to go and four teams battling it out for fifth and sixth spot, Ipswich boss Mick McCarthy had described the match as “must-win”.
And his team got off to the perfect start through Sears.
Centre-back Christophe Berra had the strength to dispossess Cardiff frontman Doyle and then the vision to launch a long ball to release Sears, who outmuscled Bruno Ecuele Manga before drilling the ball beyond David Marshall.
With just 13 minutes on the clock, Cardiff were level after Scott Malone’s teasing cross was headed in by Doyle, the striker given far too much space in the penalty area.
The home fans were back on their feet on 29 minutes when Skuse scored his first goal in Ipswich colours – in his 82nd appearance.
Tyrone Mings and Teddy Bishop swapped passes on the left but Mings’ ball into the area was loose, cannoning off a defender and into the path of Skuse who let fly from 25 yards – the shot flying in off the far post.
The unlikely goalscorer galvanised the home side and Tommy Smith went close when he headed Bishop’s corner over the bar.
Town were on top but there was a huge let off four minutes before the interval when a smart Cardiff move involving Malone and Joe Mason found Fabio, but his cross-cum-shot narrowly missed Doyle and the far post.
The fourth goal was always going to be crucial and it nearly went to the Championship’s top scorer but Murphy’s powerful header was superbly tipped over by Marshall four minutes after the restart.
Town went so close to scoring a crucial third in the 77th minute when Tommy Smith was expertly denied by Marshall before Berra’s rebound hit the top of the bar.
Five minutes before the end, Cardiff should have grabbed an equaliser. Noone got away from Mings but his low cross was poked wide by Aron Gunnarsson when the midfielder should have done better.
It was a crucial miss when Skuse picked off a Cardiff mistake before releasing Murphy who fired under Marshall for number three.
‘CAN WE PLAY YOU EVERY WEEK’
Leeds academy product Kalvin Phillips marked his home debut with a goal but Neil Redfearn’s side are without a win against Cardiff in 17 matches after the Bluebirds won 2-1 at Elland Road.
Midfielder Phillips, who made his first senior appearance five days earlier at Wolves, gave an energetic performance, to the delight of the home crowd who gave him an ovation when he was substituted soon after the hour.
The 19-year-old struck just three minutes after Sean Morrison had given Cardiff a 14th-minute lead, but Aron Gunnarsson snatched a 62nd-minute winner for Russell Slade’s men.
There was an unusual atmosphere, with Cardiff backing their fans’ boycott of the match in a row over the Bluebirds’ ticket allocation. So when defender Morrison forced the ball home at point-blank range the goal was greeted in total silence.
Former Leeds captain Lee Peltier played his part in the build-up by being first to Peter Whittingham’s corner from the left but Peltier’s old club rapidly drew level in storybook fashion.
Scotland international keeper David Marshall slipped as he came off his line and Phillips kept a cool head to slot Charlie Taylor’s left-wing cross into an unguarded net before setting off on a jig of celebration.
Cardiff lost the dazed Conor McAleny with 33 minutes gone, Eoin Doyle leaving the bench, and the former Chesterfield striker was the victim of two desperate saves by Marco Silvestri.
Doyle had been on the pitch for just two minutes when Leeds defender Sol Bamba played a careless back-pass into his path but Silvestri stood his ground and palmed the Irishman’s shot round a post.
Doyle should also have scored just before half-time when Leeds failed to cut out Whittingham’s left-wing corner, leaving Doyle with only Silvestri to beat at the foot of the far post, but again the Leeds keeper sprang to the rescue with a stunning block.
Joe Mason was also guilty of a bad miss, driving wide of the far post when well placed as Cardiff went in at the interval regretting their missed opportunities.
Joe Rolls was the next to let Leeds off the hook as he failed to tuck away Craig Noone’s penetrative pass, but the home side’s luck ran out when Silvestri parried yet another shot in the congested goalmouth and Gunnarsson got the final touch.
Leeds made a double substitution, sending on strikers Billy Sharp and Steve Morison in place of Mirco Antenucci and Phillips with 25 minutes remaining.
Sharp headed against the bar almost immediately and Morison sent a header into the crowd, but Leeds could not stave off a third successive defeat and are without a win over the Welshmen for 31 years.
Bolton give Cardiff a lesson in finishing
Bolton look to have secured their Sky Bet Championship status after shocking Cardiff to claim a 3-0 triumph in the Welsh capital.
Craig Davies bagged a brace after Eidur Gudjohnsen hammered the Trotters in front, with 62-time England international Emile Heskey proving his worth by laying on two assists.
Cardiff dominated possession, but were undone far too easily by Neil Lennon’s clinical side, who now have a 13-point buffer on those in the relegation zone.
An early Heskey chance sparked a spell of Bluebirds dominance that saw Josh Vela booked for a late swipe at Peter Whittingham.
The City playmaker soon had a chance of his own after sparking a move that saw Craig Noone find him on the edge of the box, but his low drive flew just wide.
Noone cut in from his left flank and fired just wide before the Bluebirds had their best chance to open the scoring.
A Whittingham corner landed at the feet of striker Eoin Doyle, who spun and shot, but he was denied by Barry Bannan on the Bolton line amid cries of handball.
Just when the Trotters seemed to be pegged back, they had a chance of their own when Dorian Dervite rose highest to meet Bannan’s corner, but Alex Revell was on hand to head away the goalbound effort.
Joe Mason replaced the injured Revell before Gudjohnsen slipped in Davies who curled a clear-cut chance just wide.
And they were almost made to pay after Gudjohnsen fouled his Iceland team-mate Aaron Gunnarson on the edge of the box, but Whittingham bent the free-kick inches past the post.
The Cardiff City Stadium was shocked into silence in the 55th minute when Gudjohnsen put the below-par Wanderers ahead.
Heskey took the sting out of a strong pass with his chest to set up the former Chelsea and Barcelona man inside the 18-yard box, and he lashed a left-footed strike into the top corner.
And it was 2-0 less than five minutes later, with Heskey providing the scoring pass once more.
His assist found Davies charging down the left wing, and the striker powered into the box and cracked a low shot through the legs of Marshall and into the bottom corner.
Cardiff fans streamed out of the stands when Davies put the contest well and truly to bed in the 73rd minute.
He bagged his brace by once again darting off his left flank and past Fabio before he bent the ball around the Marshall into the same corner he had scored in 14 minutes earlier.
And Davies could have got a hat-trick soon after when he broke clear of the Cardiff defence, but Marshall denied him with his legs.
The second goal was rifled through his legs; but he saved well later to prevent a Craig Davies hat-trick
Again, totally committed but shaky defensively.
Given a tough game by Heskey.
he got forward on a number of occasions and kept possession well.
Loads of effort from Noonie, but his game lacked composure & quality today. Saw a couple of efforts flash wide.
Displayed his array of ball skills before the break but couldn’t influence the game as it slipped away from City during the second period.
Was part of the midfield that dominated the first half by lost its momentum and grip during the second period; subbed in the 66th minute.
Always looking for possession and worked tirelessly until the end.
A real work horse until departing with an injury in the 38th minute.
He had a couple of attempts at goal but he needs to work on his first touch at this level.
He was introduced earlier than he would have expected, because of an injury to Revell, but again played more of a target man role which doesn’t suit him – failed to make an impact.
He was introduced when City were 2-0 down but he couldn’t turn the tide.
He replaced Doyle for the last 15 minutes and was ordered to play down the middle, he did nothing of note.