Sunday, December 26, 2010

A Merry Christmas: City 2-0 Coventry

After a dismal run of form, Cardiff City finally came good in front of 24,500 at the CCS on Boxing Day. Braving a bitterly cold day, the faithful saw a Bluebirds side without talisman striker Jay Bothroyd either in the tem or even on the bench, edge past a defensively resolute Coventry.

In truth City dominated the match from start to finish, something they haven't done for a long time, and without a string of outstanding saves by Sky Blues 'keeper Westwood, the final score could have been far different.

It was a surprise not to see Bothroyd in the starting line-up, after he was due back from a hamstring tweak in the match before Christmas that was eventually postponed due to the weather. The extra week without a match made most people sure he's start today, and when the team sheets were announced and he wasn't in sight, a few inward groans must have gone round the stadium.

But to be fair, City didn't miss him today. Manager Dave Jones, so often it seems reluctant to start Michael Chopra, did so, and I think City are a far better team with him pulling defenders around, even when he's not in top scoring form.

Up front Andy Keogh worked hard, and despite some indecisive moments from him, it was his quick thinking and free kick that set up Bellamy to cross for Olifanjana's opener on 21 minutes. I think Keogh had a good game, and though he'll almost certainly make way when Bothroyd does return, he's proving a willing replacement for the moment.

McPhail and Olifanjana, the latter looking in a bit more like his early season form, controlled the midfield well.

Coventry rarely threatened, and when they did City were generally sound at the back, with centre back Chris Riggott finally making his bow in a City shirt. He had a decent game until subbed (probably through lack of match fitness), and looked assured with some good touches. Marshall barely had a save to make in the entire match. The Sky Blues did get the ball in the net once, but it was (correctly) ruled out for offside, but that's as close as they came.

The second goal for City was almost inevitable, and eventually came in a somewhat bizarre fashion, after Bellamy was floored just inside the Coventry half, and when the defence hesitated expecting a free kick which wasnt given, Bellamy got up, ran on and hit a shot that was wickedly deflected past Westwood. There was an uncomfortable few seconds for City fans and players as it was unclear whether the ref had given the goal because he was booking the player that had fouled Bellamy, but the goal stood, and that wrapped it up for City.

With Leeds being pegged back from 2-0 to 2-2 at Leicester, City leapfrog them back into 2nd with a game in hand, and even better festive cheer was knowing in the early kick off, the Jacks had been thumped 4-0 at leaders QPR, with the added bonus of Alan Tate having seen red.

So a great Boxing Day for City. Their first win on Boxing Day for many years. And if not an outstanding display, certainly looking as if they're getting back towards their best. Watford next up away on Tuesday, but the really big one looming is Leeds visit to the CCS on 4th Jan.

Up the City!

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