Crewe Alex. 1-1Cardiff City
Cardiff made 4 changes to the side beaten on Good Friday by Sheffield United. Darren Purse and Willie Boland failed to recover from injuries and were replaced by Neil Cox and Jeff Whitley as expected. Kevin Cooper was also not risked and replaced by Paul Parry and the surprise inclusion of Jermaine Darlington, overlooked for most of the season, at right back.
Crewe were unchaged for the ninth successive game following a recent improvement in form and the hosts started brightly. On 6 minutes Welsh International target man Gareth Taylor hit a shot from the edge of the area that was brillianly kept out by Neil Alexander at full stretch. From the resulting corner, Taylor lost his marker Cameron Jerome in the area but his goalbound strike was cleared off the line by Jason Koumas.
Cardiff came back into the game and were incredibly unlucky not to take the lead on 21 minutes following a dazzling run by none other than veteran centre-back Neil Cox. Cox ran fully 30 yards down the right before setting up Cameron Jerome with a great chance but Jerome saw his goalbound shot hit the unfortunate Steve Thompson trying to get out of the way and the chance was lost. 5 minutes later Jason Koumas struck a free kick from 30 yards over the bar. On 32 minutes Crewe won another corner and Alexander made another great save to deny Stephen Foster but it was Cardiff who ended the half the stronger with Jeff Whitley just being caught off balance when ready to shoot, Whitley could only side-foot from Jerome's cross but his shot lack power and was saved by Ross Turnbull in the Crewe goal.
The second half saw Crewe really go for it and the first 20 minutes was one way traffic. No doubt they were told at half time that Sheffield Weds were ahead at Brighton and that maximum points were a must. Dario Gradi's men were dominating and created several half chances through the lively Luke Rodgers up front and the constant aerial threat of Gareth Taylor. Crewe took the lead on 57 minutes when Welsh International midfielder David Vaughan hit a thunderous left-footed drive from 30 yards straight into the top corner and giving Alexander no chance.
The 5865 crowd were treated to another fantastic goal on 76 minutes when Jason Koumas jinked past 2 Crewe players in midfield and curled a delicious right-footed shot into the top corner from fully 25 yards.
The game showcased Welsh midfielders Koumas, Vaughan, Ledley and Parry who all ironically prefer the left midfield position for their country. Koumas had several more shots but more were off target and the game fizzled out into a draw, Crewe were obviously deflated as they learned of Sheffield Wednesdays second and crucial goal at the Withdean and Cardiff introduced 17 year old Academy midfielder Darcy Blake in the final few minutes.
Crewe were always going to be up for this game more than Cardiff but the Bluebirds again relied almost solely on Jason Koumas for their attacking inspiration but a 1-1 battling draw with Crewe is not such a bad result given the enforced changes and lack of squad depth.
Its Norwich at home next week for the Bluebirds. The Canaries came from 0-2 down to beat QPR 3-2 with 2 goals in the final 5 minutes from ex-Cardiff favourite Robert Earnshaw.
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