Clean Sheet? With That Cardiff City Back Four?!
Cardiff City overcame all the odds to secure a valuable victory over Middlebrough and had to blood 2 youngsters in what appeared to be a shaky back four. Actually, the makeshift unit, superbly marshalled by Hudson, held firm to deny one of the best and in-form teams in the division.
City actually started with what Malky Mackay considers his first choice back four with Taylor and Connolly on the flanks and the solid and imposing Turner/Hudson combination in the centre. There was no McNaughton on the bench and that appeared a major blow when Turner was forced off injured.
In normal circumstances, McNaughton would have slotted in at right-back with Connolly shifting to his most natural centre-half role. Instead, the only defensive cover on the bench was Ben Nugent - a teenager who has impressed in the Development squad but not yet played Championship football for City. The difficulties were further compounded when Andrew Taylor was also forced off and while I had expected Gunnarsson to deputise (again) on the right and Connolly attempt to play left-back - Malky opted to throw another youngster on in Joe Ralls.
Ralls is left-footed, but is a lightweight and tidy central midfielder. Far from an obvious choice at left-back. However, both he and Nugent grew into their role and showed incredible maturity and determination to keep Boro at bay.
This was our first clean sheet in four games, having conceded an alarming 8 in the previous three. A 4-0 home win over lacklustre Burnley was the last shout-out but you have to go back to September to find the next clean sheet kept by David Marshall. Once again, squad depth does appear to be a concern for Cardiff City, however, the youngsters performed admirably in difficult circumstances and we recorded the crucial win…. I just wouldn`t want to see the same back-four every week!!