Crystal Palace 1-2 Cardiff (report)
Cardiff City had not won at Selhurst Park for over 30 years when they travelled this weekend, and a match between two in-form teams was anticipated. Riccy Scimeca recovered from a twisted ankle to retain his place in the side and James Chambers replaced the injured Kevin McNaughton in the only chance to a very settled CCFC line-up. Stuart Green came in for his first start for Palace with James Scowcroft moving to partner Kuqi in attack. Summer City target Mark Kennedy had the first opening as he saw his long-range drive fly well over. In just the second minute, Cardiff took the lead. Some neat passing on the right saw Steve Thompson brilliantly flick for the unmarked MICHAEL CHOPRA to blast home a thunderous volley from the edge of the box. It was a tremendous goal after good team play. Palace did have the chance to clear but failed and Chopra made them pay, he was clearly ecstatic with the goal and looks to be really enjoying his football with Cardiff City. An excellent start for the Bluebirds which clearly helped them settle, and the Bluebirds looked far more comfortable, closing down effectively and using possesion better. Jobi McAnuff went close with a shot, the former Cardiff winger striking low from the edge of the area but the shot whistled just wide. Palace began to settle and gain in confidence and got an equaliser 5 minutes before half-time. It was a poor goal to concede defensively as McAnuff found far too much space between Gilbert and Loovens and played Stuart Green between them to round Alexander and slot home. There was some appeal for offside, it looked at first as if Green was but it was poor defending nevertheless. Scimeca should have passed when through on goal with Chopra free to his right but his wel;l struck shot was saved by the pyjama-bottomed Kiraly. Crystal Palace tried to play directly and get the ball up to Kuqi as quickly as possible but Darren Purse was again towering in the Bluebirds defence and cleared his lines time and again. The second half was similar to the first with Cardiff again looking the better side and passing better but could not engineer a clear chance. Kamara replaced the slightly out-of-sorts Ledley with Parry moving over to the left. Parry had repeatedly beaten Borrowdale on the Cardiff right, bewildering him with pace and one memorable piece of skill to create a good chance. The full-back had a torrid time and was unwilling to come near Parry at times, prefering to stand back and let the winger run creatin g several chances for City. On 83 minutes, the goal that Cardiff had been threatening finally came when great pace and direction from Chopra allowed him a run at goal, he picked his spot low and to Kiraly's right but was unlucky to see his well-placed effort rebound off the post but on hand was RICCY SCIMECA to stick it in. It was Scimeca's 3rd goal in as many games and he looks fitter than ever as he burst forward to follow up Chopra's shot. City were never under any real pressure and probably deserved their win but it was another excellent performance against a very good side. It is the team play that is winning games for Cardiff but Chopra again looked a cut above the rest of the players as his tireless work and direct, positive play ran Palace ragged. Steve Thompson must wonder what he has to do to score after seeing a second half header well saved but his all-round contribution was excellent. Michael Chopra picked up another yellow card, his 5th of the season, to see him suspended for the visit to Norwich next Saturday, but he is available for the Southampton game at Ninian Park on Tuesday night.
Birmingham slipped up away to Luton to see Cardiff extend their lead at the top to 6 points over Burnley and Preston. Who would have predicted that those three would top the Championship 11 games in?
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