Date:Saturday February 17 2007
With a shortage of centre-backs, Cardiff City manager Dave Jones opted to play full-back Kevin McNaughton in the middle allowing Simon Walton to continue in midfield.
In a scrappy first half, Cardiff allowed themselves to be bullied slightly by a hard-working but technically poor Leeds side. Whittingham made an early break, and a Chopra shot was saved for the Bluebirds but it was the visitors who looked the better side. A scrappy affair woul suit Leeds better and Cardiff failed to dictate possession.
Neither side had any real chances, as the game descended into a midfield battle. Leeds got some reward against long balls to Ian Moore who was able to beat stand-in centre-back McNaughton in the air as the visitors forced several first half corners.
On the stroke of half-time, Ian Westlake fouled Simon Walton 22 yards out to the disgust of his manager Dennis Wise. As has become expected now, MICHAEL CHOPRA stepped up to score a fabulous goal with perfect dip and swerve leaving the goalkeeper stranded. There was time for another Chopra chance but his header was glanced wide when he should have done better.
HT: Cardiff City 1-0 Leeds United
The goal just before half time lifted Cardiff and completely changed the course of the game, and the manager's team-talk. The Bluebirds appeared for the second half better organised and more determined. McPhail and Walton became more involved and a Whittingham shot at the far post was well saved. Chris Gunter had replaced Kerrea Gilbert at half time, and showed impressive persistence and determination.
Hayden Foxe had earlier been booked after an elbow on Chopra, but the striker was later shown a second yellow after the pair clashed again minutes later. Chopra was booked for dissent in the first half and was penalised for leading with his elbow on Foxe. Cardiff were down to 10 men, for the final 20 minutes for the second game in succession.
A corner just minutes later saw Roger Johnson get in a header on goal, only for Kandol to stick him arm up and block the header for what looked like a certain penalty. Unfortunately for Cardiff, Steve Thompson's penalty was brilliantly saved by Ankergren, it was well struck but at a good height for the keeper who got a decent fist on the ball.
The pace became frantic and the quality declined again, Leeds weren`t dominating and looked to play hopeful balls up to Moore and Healy.
On 83 minutes, Simon Walton picked up a second yellow card and was sent off to send Cardiff go down to 9 men. The booking was for simulation (diving) and was a completely unbelievable decision, there was certainly contact on Walton but Mark Clattenberg made the terrible decision.
4 minutes of extra time were announced, and Cardiff were continuing to clear time and time again. Whittingham put Paul Parry clear, the Welsh International beat the keeper but Foxe just got back to clear off the line. A Jon Douglas shot was excellently saved low down by Alexander, and he did well to hang onto the ball. Raucous cheers greeted the final whistle as they ran out with all 3 points.
McNaughton was excellent out-of-position, Chris Gunter inspired and McPhail marshalled his troops effectively. This was the sort of game Cardiff need to win to maintain the promotion push, it wasn`t pretty and it was under immense pressure under difficult circumstances. Tensions were very high and Cardiff did what they needed to, and a crucial crucial win for Cardiff City.
Date:Saturday February 17 2007
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