Cardiff 2-0 Barnsley (report)
The two unknowns for Cardiff City were answered last night when new signing Simon Walton started in place of the injured Scimeca and ex-Barnsley midfielder Stephen McPhail was named captain for the visit of the Tykes.
In a lively and open start, Neil Alexander was first called into action to hold a curling McCann free-kick. Paul Parry produced a good run and shot but the fans weren`t forced to wait long for the opening goal. A poor headed clearance by Anthony Kay was seized upon by man-of-the-moment Michael Chopra, and a neat turn inside the area saw him shoot against Paul Reid, the ball falling kindly at the far post for PETER WHITTINGHAM to head home for his first goal for Cardiff City.
After that, Cardiff were clearly on top and dominated possession with Walton and McPhail prominent. A Paul Parry right-foot shot hit the outside of the post as Cardiff looked to extend their lead. It took until the half hour mark for Barnsley to enjoy any decent possession but just as they looked to get a foothold in the game, Cardiff extended their lead. Following his excellent hat-trick against Leicester last week, the same striker won a free-kick in exactly the same position, this time the shot went to the keeper`s other side but was the same result from the same polayer and a 5th goal in 3 games for MICHAEL CHOPRA.
A worrying time for Cardiff at the end of the first half, after a 10 minute delay with injury to Kevin McNaughton. Ledley had already hobbled off with a knee injury when McNaughton fell on his head and was unconscious when physio Sean Connelly reached the defender. After an extended break as various neck-braces applied and McNaughton was ambulanced to the UHW, a cruel blow just after being called into the Scotland squad.
HT: Cardiff 2-0 Barnsley
The second half was a dire affair with Cardiff sitting right back and content with their 2-0 lead. Barnsley were never likely to break down Cardiff`s solid two banks of 4 but they kept going and looked to target emergency left-back Peter Whittingham. A Marc Richards 20-yarder was saved and Martin Devaney put the rebound wide when well placed but Cardiff never looked in too much trouble. Barnsley enjoyed near total domination in terms of possession but never gathered any momentum, thanks in no small part to the persistence and constant harrying of Chopra up front. He never let them settle. One bright point was a 50 yard run by Willo Flood, ending in a narrowly wide shot but despite Barnsley`s work-rate and spirit, the game was already won.
Three straight wins now for Cardiff and they look to have really turned the corner. They are firmly in the play-off race and will look forward with renewed confidence. They did only what they needed to last night, but produced a committed performance and stuck to their task.
Injuries to Ledley and McNaughton were worrying but hopefully both will be back in full training before long.