David Marshall Back To Cardiff City Best
The Dave Jones era at Cardiff City was marked with a a number of persistent problems, not least the lack of a quality and established goalkeeper after the departure of Neil Alexander. Follwoing Noerwich City's relegation 3 seasons ago - Jones looked to have solved that particular problem as he swooped early in the summer to sign David Marshall from the Canaries.
Marshall quickly established himself as the number one at City, and performed solidly as the Bluebirds pushed for promotion. Unfortunately for Marshall and the Bluebirds, the play-off final at Wembley ended in a sickly defeat with the goalkeeper culpable for several key errors. It was, unfortnuately, Marshall's poorest performance in a Bluebirds shirt although Blackpool's determination and effervescence was clearly also important.
Whether through a dip in confidence, or a problematic elbow injury - Marshall endured a difficult season last year. He failed to reach his normal standard, was replaced with Tom Heaton and missed a large chunk of the campaign after undergoing surgery on the elbow. Having Marshall fit to cover Heaton's later injury could have proved decisive, especially given the decidely poor contribution of loanee Stephen Bywater.
With Heaton and Marshall now fully recovered, the goalkeeping department was one area that new manager Malky mackay did not need to prioritise during his massive squad overhaul. Two established Championship keepers challenging for the starting position.
There were some raised eyebrows when it became apparent during pre-season that Marshall would start the season as number one - especially since Heaton was certainly the better performer last season. However, in the two league games to date - Marshall has fully vindicated his manager's faith with two excellent performances.
'Marsh' was clearly man-of-the-match against West Ham and while Kenny Miller gets the headlines for his late winner, Marshall's contribution in getting to that point at 0-0 cannot be under-estimated. He made several key saves, looking assured comfortable and even more confident under the high ball- a longtime weakness.
A home game against Bristol City followed and while a dismal performance by the Robins suggests Marshall was rarely involved - BCFC did cause problems. It was defensive frailty, coupled with a lazy touch and passing profligacy that cost them in midfield. In particular, Marshall made a fine double dave, first parrying a bullet header then reacting brilliantly to block Maynard's follow-up. The City goal was saved when Brett Pitman inexplicably blasted the rebound onto the crossbar from 8 yards.
Saveral other saves, a very confident punch to clear a dangerous corner and an improved kicking game were all wlecome evidence that David Marshall is back to his best and that Cardiff City would seem to have a solid goalkeeper with the confidence and support of his back four.