Anthony Pilkington scored the first goal in City's 2016/17 home kit, as the Bluebirds came from a goal behind to draw 1-1 with Birmingham City at CCS.
FIRST BLOOD TO BIRMINGHAM
City made a strong start, pinning the Blues back in their own half during the opening exchanges and passing the ball around with confidence. The first chance arrived inside the first five minutes when Tom Lawrence’s effort was tipped just wide of the post by Adam Legzdins in the Birmingham goal.
Ben Turner was making a welcome return to the starting lineup and made a crucial tackle to deny a clear goal-scoring opportunity for the away side. However, the tide was beginning to turn and Birmingham took the lead with just over ten minutes on the clock. Welshman, David Cotterill, controlled Clayton Donaldson’s cross and found the bottom corner with a pinpoint effort from the right hand side of the box.
City responded positively, however, as Anthony Pilkington latched onto a loose ball just outside the penalty area and stormed towards goal. Unfortunately for the Irishman, his shot was expertly parried to safety by Legzdins. Back came Birmingham though, and Marshall made a couple of saves in the space of a minute. First the keeper managed to keep out Diego Fabbrini’s stinging drive and then he comfortably saved a long range free kick from goal scorer, Cotterill.
CITY STRIKE BACK
With the contest approaching the half hour mark City were playing themselves back into contention. Lawrence found Scott Malone out on the left flank and the full back sent in a dangerous early cross that the Blues defence failed to properly deal with. The ball dropped to Anthony Pilkington and the forward couldn’t miss, prodding home from the edge of the six-yard box.
The equaliser gave City fresh impetus and they had several chances shortly after, with Craig Noone and Lee Peltier both seeing powerful shots blocked around the edge of the box. Both teams were looking lively as the minutes ticked down, but there were no further clear cut chances created before the break.
Like the first period, the Bluebirds raced out of the traps in the second half, the lively Noone forced another good save from Legzdins after Lex Immers found him on the right hand side of the penalty area.
BATTLING FOR THE WINNER
Just before the hour mark, Birmingham’s Clayton Donaldson was played through and subsequently brought down by Turner just outside the penalty area. The dangerous Cotterill stood over it and whipped in a goal bound effort that was brilliantly headed off the line by the retreating Craig Noone. The Bluebirds then raced up the pitch on the counter and Immers flashed a shot just wide of the Blues’ right hand post after being found by Lawrence.
City were enjoying themselves now and won a succession of corners that they failed to divert goalwards. The game was entering its final phase and the three points were well and truly up for grabs. Turner was marshalling the defence excellently and made another timely challenge on Donaldson who was bearing down on goal with a little over ten minutes to go.
Kenneth Zohore had come off the bench and was looking to make an immediate impact - he had his chance when Pilkington played him through expertly. The big Dane took it in his stride well but his shot from a tight angle was turned away for a corner, Legzdines making another solid save.
With five minutes to go the away side had a glorious chance to snatch the win, substitute James Vaughan robbed Bruno Manga, who had also just come on, but the forward could only crash his effort against the post when one-on-one with David Marshall. Vaughan also had a late opportunity from a corner when Anthony Pilkington pulled off another excellent goal-line clearance from the striker’s close range header.
That proved to be the last act of what was an entertaining final game of the season for the Bluebirds, finishing all square at one apiece.
FINAL SCORE: CARDIFF CITY 1-1 BIRMINGHAM CITY
Scorers: Cotterill 11’, Pilkington 26’
Cardiff City: Marshall, Peltier, Malone, Connolly, Turner (Manga 81’) Noone, O’Keefe, Whittingham Lawrence (Harris 74’), Immers (Zohore 67’), Pilkington.
Subs not used: Moore, John, Ameobi, Saadi.
Birmingham City: Legzdins, Spector, Morrison, Robinson, Grounds, Adams (Gleeson 71’), Kieftenbeld, Davis (Solomon-Otabor 79’), Fabbrini (Vaughan 85’), Cotterill, Donaldson.
Subs not used: Trueman, Caddis, Shotton, Brock-Madsen.