By Philip Marsh
Cardiff City returned to winning ways with a 3-2 victory over Huddersfield in an enthralling 90 minutes of football.
The win for Cardiff sees them leapfrog Nottingham Forest into 20th in the table, tied on 18 points with Burton and Wolves. On the other hand, defeat for Huddersfield sees them drop to fourth in the table and they are now only three points above seventh place.
Goals from Rickie Lambert, Sean Morrison and Junior Hoilett were enough to secure all three points for the Bluebirds, despite seeing almost none of the ball in the second half.
Cardiff City’s manager Neil Warnock said games like the one played today are ‘what the Championship is about’. He added: “I can drive back home and it’ll be an easier drive tonight.”
Unlike recent performances which have seen Cardiff waste chance after chance, scoring three goals came as a delight to home fans. Despite the three goals, Warnock said: “If we took all of ours we would have been out of sight. We never make anything as easy as that though. We’re only disappointed we’re not scoring more goals really.”
Although frustrated by not scoring more than the three goals, Warnock was full of praise for midfielder Aron Gunnarsson. He said: “Gunnarsson is a manager’s dream, he’s as good as anything in the league when he plays, and he had a difficult game today because Palmer was superb at times on the ball.”
Warnock, who managed Huddersfield in the early 1990s, was also full of praise for the visitors: “I think other than Newcastle, Huddersfield can beat anyone on their day but I think Cardiff can too. It’s the best side they’ve had for many, many years. They passed 15 passes to our 4.”
Cardiff’s defender Sol Bamba was asked about Cardiff’s prospects this season after a difficult start. The Ivorian said: “We don’t deserve to be down there but let’s not get carried away, it’s a difficult league. You deserve to be up there when you play good football. There are a few good teams in the league and we’ve started late.”
Bamba also added: “Neil said from day one we don’t deserve to be down there and we’ll do what we can to get up the table.”
The Bluebirds took the lead through Sean Morrison’s back-post header from a Whittingham corner.
Second after Cardiff had taken the lead they had doubled their advantage. Pilkington’s shot from the edge of the area was saved by Danny Ward, but he could only palm the ball into the path on an onrushing Junior Hoilett, who stabbed it in to make it 2-0.
It took two goals to kick the Huddersfield players into action. On 28 minutes, the Terriers found their route back into the match. Sloppy defending from Cardiff left Tommy Smith unmarked in the area, who calmly finished past Amos at the near post.
Not deterred, Cardiff pick up where they left off and once again took the game to Huddersfield. A long free kick was headed down by Sean Morrison and Rickie Lambert was there to extend Cardiff’s lead to 2 goals once again.
The second half was dominated by Huddersfield, who had over 70% possession throughout the match, but despite their dominance chances were at a premium.
Substitute Phil Billing did pull one back for Huddersfield in the 70th minute with a thumping volley from outside the area, which set up a tense last 20 minutes.
The final 20 minutes was as tense as any at the Cardiff City Stadium this season. Attack after attack from Huddersfield put the Cardiff defence under immense pressure as the away fans sensed an equaliser.
Despite all the possession and pressure, the Terriers were unable to find an equalising goal and the Bluebirds held on for a massive three points.
Cardiff now turn to the sights to an away trip to Aston Villa, who have not lost a home game all season. Another three points for Cardiff could lift them up to 18th and play-off whispers may return.
Amos 6 – Didn’t have much to do throughout the game and cannot be blamed for the second goal, perhaps could have done better with the first.
Bennett 7 – Looked confident with the ball at his feet and provided a great outlet in the first half. Struggled in the last 10 minutes when Huddersfield dominated.
Bamba 8 – A great performance from Sol Bamba. Won almost every header, commanded the back line, and even produced a moment of skill on half way in the second half.
Morrison 8 – Like Bamba, Morrison was excellent in the air, both in defence and attack. He could have had a hat-trick in the first half, but he will take the one goal gladly.
Peltier 7 – Another confident performance at right back for Peltier. Linked up well with Pilkington throughout the game.
Pilkington 6 – A good return to the starting eleven for Pilkington. A couple of long range efforts tested Ward in the first half but he faded as the game went on.
Whittingham 7 – At times went missing in the second half but his deliveries from set pieces today were brilliant.
Ralls 6 – Has struggled to find his form of last season so far in this campaign. Didn’t have a bad game today but didn’t play to his full potential.
Gunnarsson 8 – Tirelessly worked in the second half with the back to the wall. Broke down play throughout the game and the fans appreciate the effort.
Hoilett 8 – Match fitness is coming back for Hoilett and deserved his goal today. He caused the Huddersfield defence a lot of problems.
Lambert 7 – A well-taken goal and some good knock downs in the first half helped Cardiff dominate for large periods in the first half. Went missing in the second half and was rightly replaced when he tired.
Star Player: Sol Bamba