Date:Monday February 19 2007
Cardiff City withstood sustained scrutiny from Leeds United and can be justly proud of themselves after keeping a clean sheet to record City's fourth win in five.
To do this without either of their first choice centre-backs is all the more impressive. Joe Ledley was excellent at left-back, despite having very little experience in the position. Chris Gunter, a 17 year old in his first season was immense as he harryed and chased making some truly thunderous clearances to boot.
Roger Johnson stepped up admirably to marshall his inexperienced defence and single handedly kept out Leeds' barrage of long balls.
However special praise must be reserved for a truly heroic performance from Scotsman Kevin McNaughton. Recently returned after concussion and losing his place to Joe Ledley, McNaughton was asked to fill in at centre-back and performed his job impeccably.
It looked early on as if McNaughton might struggle with the physical side of the game after he conceded a couple of aerial battles and corners. The young Scot grew in stature and confidence and was a rock in the heart of the Bluebirds defence. Like a terrier he nipped away at attackers, frustrating them and clearing time and time again. His pace saw him nip in front on several occasions and cooly clear the danger.
To think McNaughton, City's most impressive and consistent player, early on this season was a free transfer is unbelievable. He should still be learning the game but looks as experienced as any with excellent reading of the game and positional sense. He has played left back, right back, central midfield and now centre-back for Cardiff and has done an effective job in each of them.
When Cardiff needed him, McNaughton stepped up more than any other on the pitch and deserves plenty of praise for a courageous and almost faultless display.
Date:Monday February 19 2007
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