Cardiff Cave To West Brom Onslaught
Cardiff City lined up as expected at the Hawthorns but few would have expected the dream start we got as Paul Parry's speculative effort took a deflection and looped neatly over Kiely and into the net for a 29th second lead for the Bluebirds.
Some around me thought we may have 'peaked too soon' but Cardiff looked comfortable and lively. Ishmael Miller was withdrawn for the Baggies to collective relief, he looked a threat initially but had to be replaced by Bednar.
Kevin Phillips launched a long shot that Oakes dived to tip away and Bednar had a shot blocked by a brave McNaughton challenge. The Scotsman was withdrawn shortly afterwards, and for a moment it looked bad but no stretcher was required and Darcy Blake entered the fray.
With almost his first touch, Blake set up a second for Cardiff though there looked little danger. Hasselbaink's flick was collected by Parry on the right and his run (with no support) allowed him to fire right footed (yes you read that right!) past Kiely from a tight angle - a gread individual effort.
The 2-0 did not last long however, and Bednar ghosted in at the far post to convert a hopeful Greening free-kick from centre-field. The momentum shifted somewhat, and there was plenty of time to go.
West Brom winger Chris Brunt was a constant threat with some dangerous crosses causing panic in the City defense - Oakes was reluctant to collect and the denfence began to sit too deep. However, City continues to attack and Whittingham burst into the box and when unable to get a shot away, set up Parry whose 18 yarder for a hat-trick went disappointingly high.
After half-time, WBA continued to press but it was Cardiff who got the next goal. Joe Ledley burst forward from his own half and although fortunate to get the ball back from his cross, the in-form Welshman drilled home to extend the Bluebird's lead.
We were where we wanted to be, but somehow you felt it wasnt enough and with plenty of time to go, Mowbray changed personnel and formation drastically and to good effect.
The widemen found space and a multitude of crosses peppered the Cardiff box. We cried out for Kasper Schmeichel to rise high and collect, before forcefully shunting his defenders up-field. However, Oakes flapped at a few and was all too happy for his defence to sit deep as we invited pressure.
Phillips shot a warning when he headed home only to be adjudged offside, Bednar headed wide when unmarked from a Brunt cross and we were under sever pressure. The inevitable goal came when Albrechtsen's tame header evaded Oakes and dipped under the crossbar and gave the league leaders a chance.
A massive 6 minutes injury time was announced and the West Brom domination continued, more crosses and pressure eventually led to the equaliser, Loovens' missed header bouncing off the unfortunate Johnson and over Oakes. It had been coming.
However, the referee denied Cardiff a priceless penalty when Kiely barged Ledley in the final minute. Mr Friend bottled it and made unbelievable decisions all afternoon, to the understandable dismay of WBA they were brought back when in space for pointless fouls and players were left on the sidelines far too long after treatment. Maybe he made up with the no-penalty, it was blatent.
However, West Brom deserved something from the day and intial disappointment gave way to realisation of a good point gained, and a fantastic afternoon's entertainment and nerves. 3-3 and a fantastic spectacle.