Blake Back On Form After Solid Swans Showing
Cardiff City's young We3lsh defender Darcy Blake has been in and out of the side all season, with the Bluebirds seemingly unsure over his best position. He is certainly versatile and has now featured across the back four and in midfield this season.
He has not reached the heights of last season's impressive form, but remains a highly useful squad player and is a regular on the Bluebirds bench. And so it was again on Sunday, as Dave Jones opted to keep faith with under fire full-back Lee Naylor.
However, Naylor withdrew through illness shortly before the game and Jones was forced to switch Kevin McNaughton to left-back and hand a debut to Israeli centre-back Dekel Keinan. That worked well, with both players impressing in the first half. Kevin McNaughton hobbled off after a heavy collison with Pratley following a Sinclair cross. The diminumtive Scotsman did brilliantly to clear the danger only to be clattered from behind by the onrushing Pratley.
It was a worrying sight when McNaughton failed to return after the break, with no other left-backs in the squad, let alone the bench. (Martin John looks unlikely to feature in the first team). Jones turned to Darcy Blake in an unfamiliar left-back role allowing Paul Quinn to remain on the right.
Any doubts were misplaced however, and Darcy was clearly focussed and determined. Penalised in the first few moments for a foul on Dyer, Blake stuck to the former Southampton winger all game and kept his impact to a minimum. It was a very solid defensive display from Blake, and one to give him confidence after a tough season to date.
Darcy's best moment came during an attack as he collected possession and surged forwards, beating two would-be tacklers and bursting past Alan Tate only to see his shot cannon back off the post. It would have been a remarkable goal, and his first for the club though I remember he's had at least two efforts ruled out - including one in the play-off defeat at Wembley. So unlucky.
It was a good performance from Blake, and showed his manager and new Wales boss Gary Speed that he is ready for action. Blake probably is most naturally a full-back, and will have his sights on Paul Quinn's shirt. We've heard a lot a bout competition and strength-in-depth this season and based on the performance against the Swans - Blake is up and ready for ther fight.