Date:Friday September 15 2006
Luton town are the visitors to Ninian Park on Saturday and travel in reasonable form. The Hatters lie in a healthy 7th place in the league after a midweek draw with Colchester. Luton have already beaten the likes of Crystal Palace and Leicester, their only defeats being close encounters at the hands of Norwich and Wolves.
Luton lost their prize asset during the summer when Steve Howard, formerly a target for Dave Jones, moved to Derby in a £1m deal. However in the prolific Rowan Vine and lively Adam Boyd they have exciting options in attack with former Ipswich and Swindon frontman Sam Parkin. The Hatters also lost caption and combative midfielder Kevin Nicholls (now with Leeds) but have replaced him with ex-City player Richard Langley. Langley was a £250000 signing for Lennie Lawrence from QPR but was bought to provide much needed width to a City side whereas Langley is far more comfortable in the centre of midfield. 'Langers` was another target for the Cardiff boo-boys as he sometimes lacked commitment in difficult game but when played centrally Langley had the ability to create chances and looked a class player scoring several long range beauties. Langley eventually returned to QPR after exactly 2 years with Cardiff and after 1 more season at his former club had made the switch to Kenilworth Road. Langley has impressed so far with Luton (scoring from a penalty against Stoke) and also won a penalty in the Colchester draw but missed it himself as his shot crashed into the bar.
One other dangerman for Luton is the ever-impressive Carlos Edwards, the Trinidad and Tobago star has scored twice so far this term and his pacy tricks on the wing have caused problems for many a defence. The ex-Wrexham man can play winger or wing-back on either side and will pose a threat to McNaughton or Gilbert.
Cardiff welcome back Glenn Loovens from suspension and he is likely to start although any combination of our three centre-backs is possible. With Loovens in the side the team had conceded just 2 goals in 5 matches until his controversial sending off against Preston. The Purse/Johnson partnership crumbled under Plymouth pressure to concede 3 times in a mad 20 minutes. Loovens/Johnson performed admirably during Purses suspension especially against Birmingham but the captain is likely to retain his place alongside Loovens with Roger Johnson dropping to the bench. No other changes are likely with Willo Flood yet to make a Championship start for the club. The strikers appear in good form and have formed a good understanding in recent weeks sharing the 3 goals at Plymouth, and, coupled with the excellent form of Parry and Ledley on the wings Cardiff should feel confident of winning this game.
However the horrors of the Plymouth capitulation when so comfortably set will not be easy to dispel. The flowing football of the first 70 minutes would be welcome at Ninian Park but after losing at Preston and what must have felt like a loss at Plymouth, an 'ugly` win would suit Dave Jones and most City fans. A good start will be important and an encouraging crowd can lift the players, their confidence could be dashed by a poor start and the crowd`s frustration.
There`s no doubt that Mike Newell`s Luton are a difficult proposition and will make it tough for City, with their attacking options and the creative Ahmet Brkovic on the bench they will fancy their chances of scoring but Cardiff will be looking to reclaim their top spot and take three points in whatever manner they can. Substitutions have punished Cardiff recently, Agyemang for Preston and Chadwick for Plymouth, so City will need to be more adaptable at the back when needed.
Date:Friday September 15 2006
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