Sunday, August 14, 2011

Super City: City 3-1 Bristol City

Cardiff City followed up last weeks away win at West Ham with a highly impressive 3-1 demolition of Bristol City in front of over 22,000 at CCS, Malky Mackay's competitive home debut as manager.

Fielding the same starting eleven and bench as last week, hopes were high, but after only 10 minutes Mackay's tactical nous was being tested as enforcing midfielder Gunnarsson left the pitch with a nasty looking ankle injury. I suppose I was expecting him to be replaced with Quinn, a full back, and shifting Andrew Taylor up into midfield - perhaps something that would have happened under Dave Jones, but no, Mackay instead brought on the young striker Joe Mason. Immediately he had an impact, running at the Bristol defence he was fouled first by McAllister and then Spence, both drawing yellow cards inside his first few minutes on the pitch.

This period of play galvanised City, and a few minutes later they were in front after Conway's sublime cross was nodded past former England 'keeper David James at the far post after the Robin's defence went awol.

Cardiff were rampant now, and everything just kept coming back at Bristol. Their passes went astray, City cleaned up and pressed harder. Whittingham was pulling the strings in midfield, with outlets left and right. It was no surprise that 5 minutes after the opener, Joe Mason ran at the defence, sent a ball across the face of goal 20 yards out that Conway hit beautifully into the bottom corner for 2-0.Even at this early stage, the City fans were giving it the 'ole", and giving David' James a bit of stick with repeated chants of "England's No. 1".

And more was to come, when Cowie's poweful shot was parried by James, then went loose leaving returning legend Earnshaw the simplest of tap ins for City's 3rd, followed by his trademark somersault. David James should probably have been booked for his reaction, kicking the ball right out of the stadium, but in truth, the defence in front of him was pretty dire, and his handling wasn't great, so a lot to be annoyed and frustrated about.

For City fans, after the often dogged and sometimes downright stubborness of a Dave Jones side, it was so refreshing to see City players rushing into the box when we attacked, and those same players fighting back to defend every time Bristol attacked - which in truth wasn't very often. How many times last season did we see precisely no-one in the box when we attacked? A lot.

However, warning signs are still there. A couple of times the Robins thrust forward, and in truth should have pulled one back after Marshall was forced to make a great close save, only to see the ball hooked back to Pitman, who managed to hit the bar from about 3 yards out with an open goal begging.

After the break, things were understandably more restrained. City had the job almost done, and Kieth Millen had obviously re-organised his disheveled Robins at half time. He brought on the diminutive Campbell-Rice who attacked down the right, and started to give Taylor and Cowie something to think about. Stead also came on - someone who's haunted City in the past, and to give credit to the Robins, they did start to threaten. Eventually it told when Campbell-Rice's cross was picked up by Maynard on the corner of the 6 yard box, and he neatly turned Gerrard and fired past Marshall.

But it was a consolation goal for Bristol, no more. City had the ball in the net through Mason less than a minute later, but it was ruled offside.

Last week's super-sub, Gestede came on, and though he didn't make the same impact, he gave Bristol something else to think about.

City saw the game out comfortably enough, and that win sees them top of the table after two games. Man of the match? The fans vote was Joe Mason, who has been christened by the faithful "Joe Messi". Hard to argue with that the way he impacted the game, but in truth, any one of the eleven could have got it today. They were magnificent.

Brighton will be a sterner test on Wednesday. Bristol City I think will have their work cut out this year unless Keith Millen can sort that horrible defence out.

As for City? Well, at the moment, Malky can do no wrong. Two wins from two games, goals from around the team, passion, or as we like to say here in Cardiff "passhun", a vocal, clearly passionate manager. Life is good. We're not complacent, there's an awful long way to go, but after the performance today, I'm looking forward to the journey.

Up the City!

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