It wasn’t the happiest of Christmas periods for Cardiff City this festive season, as the Bluebirds registered only four points to fall away from the Championship play-off places.
After Kenwyne Jones’s late winner at home against an in-form Brentford, City then suffered two consecutive away defeats at the hands of Birmingham and Milton Keynes Dons, before clawing back a point at home to Nottingham Forest in their final fixture of a tough 2015. Following successive home games in which leads had been surrendered, to Burnley and Sheffield Wednesday respectively, Cardiff were hoping that victory over the Bees would kick-start a good run of festive form. It wasn’t to be.
A controversial penalty from Paul Caddis gave Birmingham all three points at St. Andrews, following a disputed handball decision against Matthew Connolly from James Vaughan’s shot. Defender Sean Morrison also limped off with a knee injury that ruled him out for up to a month. Though City have the excellent Bruno Manga in reserve, more bad news arrived in the shape of another ankle injury to Ben Turner, picked up whilst playing on loan at Coventry, possibly keeping the big man out for the rest of the season.
There was no let off in the next game either, as a late Josh Murphy goal fired the MK Dons to victory and out of the relegation zone, leaving City eighth, and four points from sixth place. Despite dominating possession, and a great finish from Craig Noone, it wasn’t enough to salvage a point. Three was, understandably, little cheer as Forest pitched up at the Cardiff City Stadium, with an early goal from youngster Oliver Burke gifting the visitors an unlikely lead. Though the equaliser from Aron Gunnarsson followed soon after, the discontent within the ground was palpable, as Cardiff finished the year in tenth place, six points of the play-off places.
Following today’s win over Blackburn Rovers, City have an FA Cup tie at home to League One side Shrewsbury Town on 10th January, before two tough away games against promotion-chasers Hull and a rejuvenated Wolves, before finishing January at home to lowly Rotherham. With the winter transfer window now open, Slade will be looking to add quality to his squad, while at the same time, fighting to keep other clubs from snatching the likes of Jones, Manga and David Marshall from under his nose.