Back Five Crucial In Cardiff City Play-Off Success
Cardiff City have failed in previous years after spending all season in the top-six but failing to make it through the lottery that is the play-offs. Last season's 0-3 home capitulation to Reading last season was a shocking result and summed up a frustrating and inconsistent season for the Bluebirds.
However, despite last years side being packed with quality attacking players like Bothroyd, Chopra, Bellamy and Burke - the play-off game that ended our season saw a mackshift and sub-standard defensive unit take the field for the Bluebirds:
In goal was the hapless Stephen Bywater, who also made a mistake in allowing Reading's first goal. While the consistent Kevin McNaughton was present - ther rest of the back four saw JLloyd Samuel at left-back who must go down as one of the poorest players we've had in recent years. Alongside him were Dekel Keinan and Darcy Blake. The jury is out on those two as Championship centre-halves but neither are experienced and they certainly hadn't played much together. Keinan gave away a needless penalty on the night - and we never looked comfortable.
That back four would certainly struggle in the Championship - and I would be very uneasy starting any game with either Bywater or Samuel in the line-up. There is simply no comarison to the side that will, barring late injuries, take the field for City tonight:
David Marshall is a quality goalkeeper who has been in good and consistent form this season. Hopefully he will have another good game tonight while a clean sheet would be a huge boost.
Kevin McNaughton remain an excellent Championship right back offering desensive solidity and an attacking threat. He hasn';t always been at his imperious best this term but remains an essential team member and will not let us down.
Andrew Taylor has made the left back position his own. He can struggle with a lack of support given City's tendency to play without widemen but Taylor is quick, and covers well in defensive. He will also hope to utilise his superb left foot in aiding City's attack.
Mark Hudson and Ben Turner are the rocks on which our sound defense is built. Both are big, strong and aerially dominant (they will need to be to cope with Carlton Cole!). However, they also have a good understanding at the back and Turner in particular is comfortable with the ball at his feet.
The solidity and consistency of the back five has been of paramount importance to our success this season and give the rest of the side confidence. Hopefully they can do us proud again tonight and restrict West Ham.