Cardiff City Outclassed By Swansea City - Painful
Cardiff City lost out in the Welsh derby in losing 3-2 to Swansea City - and the Bluebirds could have few complaints after a poor display saw them outclassed and outscored by the usually goal-shy Swans.
Things started badly for Cardiff City with Whittingham joining McPhail and Chopra in the stands, that brought about a recall for Tony Capaldi in a midfield role - he was a spectator throughout and made scant contribution. Garry Monk was forced to sit out for the Swans after feeling his calf during the warm-up. By contrast his replacement Bessone was outstanding.
Swansea started much the better and nearly took the lead when an excellent Pratley flick found Beattie only for Marshall to expertly smother the shot. However, Marshall was at fault just minutes later when a cross from the Cardiff left saw him slip and when Matthews and Dyer tussled, the short man's tame flick found the net with Marshall stranded.
Things became worse for Cardiff when another cross found Beattie, he chested down under pressure from Kennedy but no-one had tracked Pratley's run and he smashed home the loose ball to stun the away fans. Cardiff had barely kept the ball at this stage but McCormack had the Bluebirds' first effort with a flicked volley that flew over. This was no indication of things to come and a devastating 2 minute spell saw Cardiff City draw level with two rapid goals. The first came with an excellent chipped pass from Chris Burke which found Bothroyd clearly onside - the former Arsenal man expertly controlled and finish low past De Vries for a classy goal.
Just moments later, a free-kick was headed home from a tight angle by captain Mark Hudson.
The two quick goals stunned the Swans, and in truth 2-2 flattered Cardiff and was little reflection of the game at half time. The Bluebirds benefitted from the fortune and enjoyed their best spell, the only time the midfield competed with Brittain, Allen and the superb Pratley.
After the break, both sides started nervously but Cardiff City probably edged quality of possession. A surging run from Adam Matthews brought a cynical foul from Brittain, and McCormack crashed an outstanding effort into the bar from the free-kick. It was mightily close from 25 yards, but as often happend the Swans went down the other end and scored. This time, Burke failed to close down Bessone whose perfect cross was volleyed home by Pratley, again escaping from Ledley's attention.
Cardiff tried but failed to put any real pressure on the Swans, and Capaldi was replaced by Taiwo whose 20 minute cameo could only be described as horrendous. We lost possession on numerous occasions, faield to inject urgency or forward momentum and a series of lofted aimless balls were easily dealt with by the Swans.
Michael Chopra, and more importantly McPhail and Whittingham would have helped no end. Additionally, the lack of a left sided wide man (Etuhu, Whittingham,McCormack, Ledley all absent or in other roles) was detrimental to our style. Burke was disappointing, Kennedy sloppy while Rae and Ledley never got to grips in midfield. Bothroyd was our best player but was left isolated far too often.
Even if you take away the two goals, Darren Pratley was phenomenal and ran the show. Bessone was also very good while the rest of the Swans did their job effectively without shining. Put simply, they were more comfortable, organised and deserved the win. There are no excuses, Swansea City identified out weakness, urged Pratley to make his late runs and we could not compete.
Swansea City 3-2 Cardiff City. Gutted.