Tags: Cardiff V Barnsley, Cardiff V Doncaster Preview, Coca-Cola Championship
The 3-1 win against Barnsley could not have come at a better time for the Bluebirds off the back of their disappointing defeat to Southampton on the weekend.
Firstly may I just take this time to apologise for the delay in updates on my blog recently – A bad case of food poisoning was to blame.
But now my mind focuses back onto Cardiff and just hope that we can pick up points in the remaining games in hand to really put us back into contention for automatic promotion.
The 3-1 Barnsley result did just that.
But isn’t it typcial of the league that when City pick up three points, so do the top two of Wolves and Birmingham putting an end to their poor runs.
Cardiff are still in the knowledge though that winning all their games in hand will place them second in the league and into the much saught after automatic spot.
So it was very pleasing to see a patched together Cardiff side working hard to get the three points, a game in which Eddie Johnson was given the chance to start upfront with Michael Chopra.
Johnson completed his first full game since joining the Bluebirds on loan in the summer and may have done enough to cement his place in the first team until Jay Bothroyd returns.
But the American striker is still yet to score for the Bluebirds – a record rivaling Andy Campbell in his latter days with the club. What are the odds on an Eddie Johnson Play-off final winner?
Doncaster and Norwich coming up for City
But Cardiff now face two games they will look to win against Doncaster Rovers at home this Saturday and Norwich City away the following Tuesday to push them towards the automatic spots.
Two wins here will sit them nicely in the league before the crunch local derby against Bristol City the week after.
The Bristol game could be pivotal in both teams seasons with both looking to challenge the top two for automatic promotion.
Following this Cardiff then have four home games on the trot as they catch up with their games in hand a spell of games that includes of course, Swansea at home.
It is now or never for the Bluebirds
It is make or break time for the Bluebirds in their quest for automatic promotion and their current spate of injuries could not have come at a worse time when City are basically playing two games a week.
The Barnsley game saw Paul Parry, Michael Chopra and Gavin Rae all take knocks but all will be patched up for the game against Doncaster.
Their injuries all add to those suffered by Chris Burke and Quincy Owusu-Abeyie against Southampton with only the latter managing to play some part in the victory over Barnsley.
It is anyones guess at too who will be starting on Saturday against Doncaster with Chris Burke, Jay Bothroyd and Kevin McNaughton all facing late tests ahead of a game that most City fans will see as a must win match.
But be warned, Doncaster have been on a great run of late and are far better than the team that propped up the division only a few months ago.
City will need to work very hard against a side they struggled to beat in the previous fixture between the clubs earlier in the season.
But another solid home victory may just push the Bluebirds into another good run, a run that would be perfect timing to really push for that automatic position.
Whether Cardiff will get promoted this season will be decided over the next run of games. Fact.
Tags: Bothroyd Injury, Cardiff City, Cardiff V Wolves, Coca-Cola Championship, Dimitrios Konstantopoulos, Konstantopolous error, Michael Chopra, Wolverhampton Wanderers, Wolves
A Dimitrios Konstantopoulos clanger cost Cardiff City all three points against league leaders Wolves on Sunday, gifting Wolves a 2-2 draw and a point.
The on loan Goalkeeper dropped a Kyel Reid cross over his own goal line in one of the clangers of the season. Very frustrating for a Cardiff side looking to push up the table.
Sylvan Ebanks-Blake nodded home the opener for Wolves only for deadline day signing Michael Chopra to equalise from a brilliant Paul Parry pass.
Roger Johnson netted in Paul Parry corner only three minutes into the second half only for Konstantopoulos to gift Wolves a point with only nine minutes to go.
But Cardiff boss Dave Jones was quick to defend his debutant telling the South Wales Echo: “The cross took a deflection and Dimi lost it in the lights. You lot will have a go at him, but he has made a mistake and put his hands up to it. We are all right behind him.
“But he has got to get on with it because we have another game coming up straight away now.”
Konstantopoulos was making his first start for the Bluebirds having been signed on an emergency loan deal from Coventry earlier in the month and would have been devastated to gift a point to Wolves.
But Jones feels the top three are still within reach adding: “We are still mathematically in with a chance of the top two and, as long as that is there, we will keep going.
“We are still mathematically in with a chance of the top two and, as long as that is there, we will keep going.”
Cardiff let it slip against the top three
If Cardiff do miss out on promotion this season they will point to the away games of Reading, Wolves and Birmingham as to why why, conceding late goals in all three games in recent months allowing the top three to maintain their gap over the Bluebirds.
But in the early stages of the game you would have thought Cardiff would have been very happy with a point from Molineux. Wolves should have been out of sight after the first half an hour.
Ebanks-Blake did open the scoring for Wolves with 11 minutes gone only for Wolves to miss numerous opportunities that could have rendered the later drama insignificant – Andrew Keogh guilty of missing two golden chances to double the lead.
Former Wolves misfit Jay Bothroyd left the field with a calf injury on the half hour mark, Chris Burke coming on the replace the towering centre forward.
Chopra marks his latest return with a goal
The change of player and emphasis brought immediate rewards for the Bluebirds as Michael Chopra buried Cardiff’s first real chance of the game, converting a brilliant Paul Parry pass to level the proceedings.
The league leaders became nervous, Wolves boss Mick McCarthy happy to see out the remainder of the half at 1-1.
Cardiff built on their dominant end of the first half and took the lead only three minutes into the half – Roger Johnson nodding home a Paul Parry cross to celebrate the birth of his newborn child.
Molineux went silent and anxious, the home fans nervous of a continued poor run of form that has seen the leaders win only once in the last ten games.
Cardiff should have had the points sewn up
And Cardiff should have made sure of the win as Gavin Rae and Chopra expertly set Parry through on goal, his audacious chip not quite enough to beat Wales internation goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey.
Cardiff’s late goal voodoo was fresh in the minds of the City fans in the ground, surely City would not let another brilliant victory slip away.
But it did and in the worst way imaginable.
On Loan goalkeeper Dimitrios Konstantopoulos dropped the ball over the line from an aimless Kyel Reid cross, the former Swansea player losing all three points for Cardiff with only nine minutes to go.
Cardiff will now have to pick themselves up quickly before the visit of QPR to Ninian Park on Wednesday night, one of the games in hand City simply need to win to maintain the pressure on the top three.
YourBluebirds Man of the Match- Dimitrios Konstantopoulos (only joking) Roger Johnson
Wolverhampton Wanderers Team: Hennessey, Foley, Craddock, Berra, Ward (Stearman 80), Kightly, Henry, Edwards, Jarvis (Reid 76), Keogh (Vokes 76), Ebanks-Blake. Subs Not Used: Higgs, Iwelumo.
Goals: Ebanks-Blake 11, Konstantopoulos 81 og.
Cardiff City Team: Konstantopoulos, McNaughton (Comminges 90), Gyepes, Roger Johnson, Kennedy, McCormack (Whittingham 85), Rae, Ledley, Parry, Bothroyd (Burke 32), Chopra. Subs Not Used: Owusu-Abeyie, Scimeca.
Goals: Chopra 31, Roger Johnson 48.
Att: 22,093 (Molineux, Wolverhampton)
Ref: Darren Deadman (Cambridgeshire)
Tags: Arsenal, Cardiff City, Cardiff City V Arsenal FA Cup, Cardiff demolished at the Emirates, Cardiff out of the FA Cup, FA Cup, FA Cup Fourth Round Replay
The Bluebirds 13 match unbeaten run came to an abrupt end at the Emirates last night as Arsenal sailed through to the FA Cup fifth round with a 4-0 win.
A poor Cardiff side failed to provide any test for the rampant Gunners who welcomed back Croatian international Eduardo, promptly announcing his return from injury with two goals and a man of the match performance.
Nicklas Bendtner and Robin Van Persie scored the other two goals the latter replacing Eduardo with half an hour to go. Van Persie the last name Cardiff wanted to see coming off the bench.
Dave Jones told the BBC after the game: “The players know that we didn’t perform anywhere near what we’re capable of. So we now have to forget this one, let it eat away at us and then get concentrating on the job in hand.
“It wasn’t the Cardiff we’ve seen all season… I know we’re playing Arsenal and everything else – full credit to them – but we didn’t do ourselves any justice.”
Another poor performance against Arsenal
In truth Arsenal should have boasted a bigger margin of victory but Cardiff’s Tom Heaton made sure it was not a worse score for City, producing a fine display on his return to the first team.
The England Under 21 international replaced the injured Peter Enckelman in goal and produced a performance that suggests City may not miss the Finnish keeper as much as first thought.
The first of Heaton’s saves came as early as the third minute of the match as he palmed away a Carlos Vela 30 yard screamer and Bendtners rebound before thwarting a William Gallas haeder only a minute later.
It was a sign of things to come for Cardiff who were penned into their own half from the off, long balls up front their only outlet to relieve some pressure.
It was all to easy for the Gunners
The first goal predictably came after a constant spell of Arsenal pressure, Eduardo heading in to score on his return to the first team after previously just missing with an audacious attempt to lob Heaton from the half way line.
Arsenal’s second goal came quickly afterwards as an in swinging Samir Nasri cross was met by the head of Bendtner home to put the Gunners firmly in cruise control.
Cardiff were lucky not to be three behind going into half time as Bendtner missed what only be described as an open goal, twice, as he looked to slot home a saved Carlos Vela shot.
Cardiff returned for the second half looking to restore some pride but it took until the 61st minute for City to work Lukasz Fabianski for the first time – the Arsenal keeper comfortably saving a 30 yard blast from former Arsenal trainee Jay Bothroyd.
It was Eduardo’s night
Minutes later Arsenal were celebrating a third as Eduardo scored from the spot to claim his second of the night and confirm his return to first team action, capping a night he described as “the best of his life” following his horrific injury a year ago.
His replacement with half an hour to go was Robin Van Persie who looked determined to bag a goal to firmly shoot the Bluebirds down.
He promptly completed Cardiff’s misery at the Emirates with two minutes to go as he slotted home from the edge of the box.
For Cardiff it is some sort of relief that they can now concentrate on the Championship and with league leaders Wolves next up for the Bluebirds they will need to get over this defeat quickly to maintain their promotion push.
That was always the aim after all, promotion. It was a nice trip to the Emirates but City will be thankful that it is now over.
Arsenal Team: Fabianski, Sagna, Toure, Gallas, Gibbs, Nasri (Ramsey 67), Denilson, Song Billong, Vela (Bischoff 74), Eduardo (Van Persie 67), Bendtner. Subs Not Used: Almunia, Wilshere, Clichy.
Booked: Gallas, Bendtner.
Goals: Eduardo 20, Bendtner 34, Eduardo 60 pen, Van Persie 89.
Cardiff City Team: Heaton, McNaughton, Purse (Blake 68), Roger Johnson, Kennedy, Burke, Rae (Scimeca 74), Ledley, Parry (Whittingham 68), Bothroyd, McCormack. Subs Not Used: Sak, Capaldi, Eddie Johnson, Comminges.
Att: 57,237 (Emirates Stadium, London)
Ref: Mark Halsey (Lancashire).