Zaha Foul On McNaughton Was The Turning Point
Cardiff City secured a priceless 2-1 victory over Crystal Palace yesterday despite looking by far the weaker side in the opening half an hour. However, on 30 minutes - and with the score on at 0-1, a foul by Wilfred Zaha changed the game and City were able to get to grips with the Eagles and reverse the scoreline.
Palace dominated proceedings and deserved to be ahead when Wilfred Zaha scythed down McNaughton on the Palace left. The promising young attacker was frustrated having just hit the bar and taking stick from the City fans for his continued remonstrations with himself. Zaha felt that McNaughton had fouled him in the build up, and was incensed to be penalised for the foul. He was warned as to his future conduct (and was booked just minutes later for a bad tackle on Noone-further angering him).
Aside from upsetting the referee, there was a notable change in the way McNaughton dealt with Zaha after being clattered. Within the next 5 minutes, three time McNaughton went in hard on the Palace forward. He won two cleanly, and though he misjudged his header on the third, he cleared Zaha out of the way and was not penalised as Zaha's frustration grew. That passage seemed to galvanise City and the crowd and we finally took a grip in midfield.
City went on to enjoy their best passage of the game, and grabbed the all-important equaliser just before half-time. Neither Zaha or Bolasie featured prominently from that point on with Taylor also enjoying the better of his duels with both Bolasie and Zaha.
Prior to the game, Mcnaughton had not been in the best of form and was well below par in the defeat to Peterborough. Yesterday however he was the tenacious, determined and effective defender he has consistently showed over the past 6 years. it's not often the Mcnaughton will be a gamechanger for the Bluebirds (especially with Bellamy, Noone, Whitts and co.) but yesterday, his attitude and the way he dealt with Zaha was extremely important and underpinned the crucial and gritty win.