Cardiff City 0-2 Leeds United
By Shaun Davey at the Cardiff City Stadium
Cardiff’s worst start to a campaign in twelve seasons was confirmed on Saturday lunchtime as the Bluebirds went down 2-0 to Leeds United at the Cardiff City Stadium.
The Bluebirds now fall into the bottom three and have now lost four Championship games in a row.
On a beautiful sunny afternoon in the Welsh capital; in front of the Sky cameras, Paul Trollope welcomed ex- Swansea boss Gary Monk to the Cardiff City Stadium. Both teams were struggling at the bottom half of the Championship table prior to kick off and both were needing a vital three points that were on offer.
Cardiff made five changes from the dissipating 3-0 loss to Preston in midweek with coach Trollope abandoning a 5-3-2 formation for a more solid and rigid 4-4-3. The change in system seemed to work; and in truth Leeds United rode their luck in the first 45 minutes.
Trollope told Sky Sports before the game “It’s a system we’ve worked on and we’ve gone to it effectively but were hoping it gives us a freshness and puts the right people in the right areas.”
The system seemed to work, with good interchange with the midfield three allowing Cardiff to punish Leeds stray passes. The first real chance fell to the feet of Lambert; but the ex Liverpool forward didn’t have the pace to get in behind the Leeds back line and slot past Green.
The first half continued with both teams capitalising on the counter attack, and after an edgy start, Cardiff seemed to begin to take control of the game. Craig Noone was a constant thorn in Leeds side, as he worked tirelessly, fizzing up and down the left hand touchline and whipping some dangerous balls into Rob Green’s penalty area, but Leeds dealt with them to good effect.
The switch in formation had Cardiff playing with more width and urgency and Leeds were struggling to settle with Monk urging his side to push up the field and on 15 minutes Cardiff hit the woodwork from a corner. Captain, Sean Morrison headed the ball against the post, before Green parried and cleared away.
But it was a counter attack that nearly become Cardiff’s downfall. On 25 minutes Pablo Hernandez seized on a loose ball and forced debutant Ben Amos into a fine save from a powerful drive. However, just before the break after some penalty box pinball from Whittingham’s delivery the ball deflected to Aron Gunnarsson and his shot cannoned back of the post, the bluebirds twice denied by the woodwork from taking a deserved first half lead.
The second half started with urgency but both sides look to lack real conviction in the final third. Aron Gunnarsson made a brilliant run through after some brilliant hold up play from Rickie Lambert with the Icelandic hero skipping past two challenges before being hacked down by Stuart Dallas.
Then, Leeds produced a sucker punch, some panicky defending from the Cardiff back line allowed Leeds to capitalize from a corner. Referee Scott pointing to the spot after Bluebirds captain Sean Morrison was adjudged to have hold of Pontus Jansson shirt.
Leeds’ in-form man Chris Wood stepped up and sent Ben Amos the wrong way. After that Cardiff huffed and puffed to try and find an equalizer but by then the tide seemed to have already turned.
Pablo Hernandez was probably Leeds brightest spark all afternoon and it was the Spaniard who produced a moment of real quality on 81 minutes with the ex-Swansea man dancing around the edge of Cardiff’s box before unleashing a lovely composed curling shot, which flew past Amos and into the top corner of the net, which sealed the three points for the visitors.
In truth, it was proving to be a real disastrous afternoon for Cardiff and their fans. The result means that Cardiff have now lost four Championship games in a row something they haven’t managed to achieve since August 2007 and find themselves deep in bottom three, the question now is where can Cardiff go from here?