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Vital Report: Cardiff 2 Sunderland 2

Malky being sacked following the Boxing Day defeat wasn't the best preparation for a huge game with Sunderland was it! Sunderland haven't travelled well this season, but did beat Everton at Goodison Park on Boxing Day so came into this game with much confidence, unlike Cardiff.

At two nil up we were flying, but a late Sunderland fightback in the end meant that the points were shared at the Cardiff City Stadium in a 2-2 draw on Saturday.

Again the protests rung out against Vincent Tan, as well as the support for former manager Malky as his former assistant David Kerslake took charge of the first team, along with Joe McBride. Three changes were made with Gary Medel able to return after illness and starts handed to Kim Bo-Kyung and Declan John.

Sunderland brought back Andrea Dossena, Emanuele Giaccherini and John Altidore with Steven Fletcher among those dropped to the substitutes bench with Gustavo Poyet making those changes despite the win at Everton.

Cardiff started really well, and within minutes Jordan Mutch looked to have won us a penalty when he went down under a challenge in the box. The initial reaction was a definite penalty, and I do think that there was contact but on reflection perhaps Mutch made the most of it? The referee certainly thought he was looking for it as he handed him a yellow card.

Unperturbed Cardiff continued to go on the offensive. Fraizer Campbell won the ball back in midfield and Mutch ran with it. He decided to have a go and thanks to a deflection off a Sunderland defender Mutch (6) put Cardiff into an early lead as the opening dominance paid off.

Another effort needed to be tipped over by Vito Mannone, which looked to be going over anyway, before Sunderland started getting back into the game and threatening an equaliser as his opposite number David Marshall started being called into action.

Marshall firstly saved from Ki Sung-Yueng to deny him a goal, it was a good save but this could only be pushed out into the box and with the goal open Altidore must have thought it was Christmas but his reactions weren't quick enough to steer the ball goalbound, merely wide. In his defence he had to react really quickly so it was far from an easy chance.

Fabio Borini, who collapsed at half time and had to be taken to hospital but is now thought to be okay, was denied by two very good saves from Marshall as Sunderland continued to push for an equaliser before the break.

As he had in the first half Mutch started brightly. Despite having three players around him, they must have been frightened about conceding a penalty; he managed to get the ball across to Fraizer Campbell who found himself free in the six-yard box. He made no mistake, Campbell (58) scoring his fourth goal of the season, all coming at the Cardiff City Stadium, to double the lead against his former side.

Sunderland weren't giving in, and turning to the bench proved to be an inspired move by Poyet.

They kept pressing; they'd already gone close a couple of times before the pressure finally told in the final ten minutes. Giaccherini put a teasing ball into the box that Fletcher, one of those that Poyet brought on, was able to get onto the end of. Fletcher (83) ghosted past the defence to stretch a leg out and finally see Marshall beaten, it was going to be a nervy final few minutes.

Marshall was called into action again, Cardiff were dropping deeper and deeper defensively and this was helping Sunderland pile on the pressure.

Kevin Theophile-Catherine was covering well, shielding the ball and doing all that could have been asked of him as the game moved deep into added time. Then came his mistake! A poor clearance was picked up midway in the Cardiff half, a ball into the box was flicked back to another of the substitutes Jack Colback and he took aim, thanks to another deflected goal (as this went in off Steven Caulker) Colback (90+5) had secured Sunderland a two-two draw with virtually the last kick of the game.

There was improvement, and for large parts of the game Cardiff looked set for victory but the more Sunderland pressed the more we dropped off and invited too much pressure. The ball needed to be cleared into the stands in the closing seconds but it wasn't.

We started the day a point ahead of Sunderland, we finish with the gap remaining the same but it could have opened a little daylight for Cardiff if that lead could only have been held, with Arsenal away on Boxing Day the new manager could be taking over with us in the Premier League relegation positions?

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The Journalist

Writer: Bluebird Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Sunday December 29 2013

Time: 10:47AM


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