Cardiff 0-1 Stoke (match report)
Cardiff City's new look side failed on its first outing of the new season as Stoke City came, scored and conquered the Bluebirds.
Five new signings made the starting XI, but there was no place for Robbie Fowler. City started brightly, showing some neat touches and runs. Trevor Sinclair had two early attempts with a low shot and another cross shot that hit MacLean. The Scottish striker tried to control it rather than divert first time and the chance was lost.
Stoke forward Riccardo Fuller responded with a mazy run and cross from the by-line which hit Roger Johnson and fortunately went over.
Cardiff certainly had the better of the opening period but it was Stoke who got their noses in front. On 28 minutes, Stoke won a highly dubious corner, the assistant referee (2 yards away) and 17000 Bluebirds thought it was a goal-kick but the referee thought otherwise and over-turned the decision. That was no excuse for the calamitous defending that saw a flick-on fall to Stoke debutant and Manchester United defender Ryan Shawcross who gleefully volleyed home.
Barely a minute later, Joe Ledley brought a fine save from Steve Simonson in the Stoke goal as he flew to keep a Ledley curler from the top corner.
HT Cardiff City 0-1 Stoke City
The second half saw Stoke sit even deeper but they still created the better chances. Fuller ran straight past Johnson who was saved by a great covering tackle by Loovens as Fuller shaped to shoot, Turnbull having hesitated.
Shawcross also found room to head a corner wide when free, and the set-piece defending will need to be improved.
It took till the 70th minute for Cardiff to muster another decent attempt on goal, MacLean turning inside and outside his marker in the area and swivelling to send a low left-footer just past the post. Ex Swansea City striker Mama Sidebe crashed a low shot goalwards to which Turnbull got down well and pushed wide although the shot was scuffed slightly.
Just three minutes from the end, Cardiff got their reward and were awarded a penalty and glorious chance to save the game. MacLean had his shirt needlessly tugged by Shawcross when heading wide. It was a stupid thing to do, but blatant and MacLean, who never missed a penalty for former club Sheffield Wednesday stepped up and promptly missed.
Simonson got down well to the shot, and reacted brilliantly to turn away the rebound and the chance was gone.
Roger Johnson missed a late header from a corner kick but Cardiff had missed their chance and got nothing from the game.
FT: Cardiff City 0-1 Stoke City
We deserved a draw but were bullied by a side far more physical and powerful than us. There were some encouraging signs, the performances of Sinclair and Ledley especially, but we lacked any partnership up front. When Stoke closed the door, it was far too easy and painfully familiar.
Match reaction and player ratings to follow.
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