Southampton 2-2 Cardiff (report)
Cardiff City manager Dave Jones followed a recent story of VitalCardiff about whether Steve Thomspson should play, and Jason Byrne was selected ahead of the Scotsman.
After a bright opening for the Saints, Cardiff looked to play the ball around and looked lively, Byrne and Chopra linking intelligently to cause problems for the 'two towers' in the Saints defence. It was the home side however, who took the lead on the half hour. Teenege free-kick specialist Gareth Bale had already had one sighter at goal, and when the Saints won a free-kick 30 yards out, Bale stepped up again. This time however, Skacel instead played the ball to Chris Baird to hit a rocket of a shot from fully 25 yards. The shot went close to Alexander, but the pace was too much for him and it flew just under the crossbar.
It wasn't much later, that the Scottish stopper would again have been disappointed with his effort as he palmed a Saganowski header straight to Wright-Phillips who gratefully smashed home to put the home side 2-0 up at the break.
After the break, Cardiff needed an early goal, but were unable to impose themselves on the game. It took a Chopra free-kick to spark life into the performance as kelvin Davis tumbled to save. Then, on came the big Steve Thompson, wounded by being dropped, and he only needed a minute to grab the crucial goal that completely changed the match. It was a close range tap in really, but that wont worry Thompson and from that moment on, Cardiff were a different team.
Chopra was now causing panic, Thommo nearly squared to him when through on goal and a Ledley shot from a corner could have gone anywhere but hit Davis in goal.
The Bluebirds didnt have it all their own way, and Nathan Dyer looked pacy and lively for Southampton. Kevin McNaughton had again been switched to centre-back when Glenn Loovens was withdrawn and did a stirling job always seeming to stretch a leg to clear just as danger loomed.
It seemed almost inevitable that Cardiff would snatch a point as the game opened up, but is the point we would never have got under Lennie Lawrence. It was Peter Whittingham who grabbed the vital equaliser with a fantastic half volley from outside the box, which flew into the bottom corner.
A draw probably a fair reflection and City have to settle having been 2-0 down, snatching a point from the jaws of defeat - isn;t that what promotion campaigns are made of ?