A very vocal following of 1,500 City fans made the journey up north to the Reebok Stadium for Saturday’s late kick-off where Cardiff looked to maintain their recent good form.
City took the lead five minutes before half time, when Craig Noone benefitted from the Bolton keeper Bogdan being unsighted and found the bottom corner of the net. The first half was largely free of any drama and this goal came from the only shot on target in the whole half.
The second half was a lot more lively, and this worked in favour of the home side. The inspired substitution of David N’Gog changed the outlook of the game. He won the penalty for the first goal in controversial circumstances and scored the next himself. He then later got sent off for a second bookable offence, all this having happened in the space of only fifteen minutes.
Cardiff claim very close to leaving the North-West with a point though, as City goalkeeper David Marshall almost scored from a last minute corner only to see his goal-bound effort cleared off the line.
The first ten minutes of the game passed without any clear chances for both sides. Bolton wasted a free kick that could have been threatening, but could only fire it straight into the wall from about thirty yards out. As for Cardiff, a free kick from midfield allowed Mark Hudson to header across the box but only for it to be cleared safely.
Twelve minutes into the game Cardiff had a penalty claim turned down, when Kim Bo-Kyung went down on the right hand side of the penalty area. Kim thought he was brought down unfairly, referee Tony Bates thought otherwise.
Cardiff started to get hold of a sustained period of possession after quarter of an hour, but it was Bolton who broke and created the first notable chance of the game. A cross into the box looked like it would be met by Wanderers’ forward Kevin Davies just five yards out, but Hudson managed to get there first and head behind for a corner.
Joe Mason won a dangerous free kick wide left mid way through the first half as he is pulled back by Matt Mills. Peter Whittingham played a low ball into the box but failed to clear the first man and let Bolton off the hook.
Twenty minutes left of the first half and neither goalkeeper had been called into action. Both sides had played a handful of deliveries into the penalty area but with no end product. Bolton had a penalty claim of their own when Connolly edged Chris Eagles off the ball as he was running in on goal. Once again the official deemed it a fair challenge and waved play on.
Matt Connolly found himself receiving the first yellow card of the evening only thirty-five minutes into the game. The foul was very similar to an earlier incident involving Stephen Warnock, but unlike Connolly’s foul, that one went unpunished.
As the first half drew closer to its end, Cardiff increased the tempo and were camped in the Bolton half. After a number of balls played into the eighteen yard box, one fell to Craig Noone in the right corner of the area. He released a strike low to Adam Bogdan’s left and the ball found its way to the back of the net. The keeper was caught by surprise by Noone’s shot and he dived over it. First shot on target of the game, first goal of the game.
GOAL: BOLTON WANDERERS 0 – 1 CARDIFF CITY (Noone, 40 mins)
The remainder of the half went by with very little incident and the Bluebirds went into half time with arguably, a deserved 1-0 lead.
HALF TIME: BOLTON WANDERERS 0 – 1 CARDIFF CITY
Bolton came out after the break with immediate intent to find an equaliser. Marshall was forced to make an intervention for the first time. South Korean International Lee broke the offside trap and Marshall got a hand to the dangerous, driven delivery. The 'keeper was soon called back into action again when Eagles fired from long range.
Bolton certainly looked more of an attacking threat in the second half, already creating more than the whole of the first half after five minutes of it. After sustaining a period of pressure, Cardiff themselves broke and had possession in the final third. After patient build up they forced a string of three consecutive corners. After they forced a throw in, they then had yet another corner. Cardiff were really turning the screw on the home side.
SUBSTITUTION: MARTIN PETROV ON FOR DARREN PRATTLEY (58 mins)
SUBSTITUTION: DAVID N’GOG ON FOR KEVIN DAVIES (64 mins)
SUBSTITUTION: RUDY GESTEDE ON FOR HEIDAR HELGUSON (64 mins)
David N’Gog had looked to have made an immediate impact after replacing Kevin Davies. He to slide the ball across the face of the goal into the bottom corner only to turn round and see the Assistant Referee with the flag stretched out indicating he was offside.
N’Gog seemed to have been an effective substitution, as he forced another fine save out of Marshall. Then he won his side a penalty for Bolton, after what replays show was very slight contact from Kim Bo-Kyung. However Ngog did go down very easily. Martin Petrov then stepped up, and calmly sent Marshall the wrong way.
GOAL: BOLTON WANDERERS 1-1 CARDIFF CITY (Petrov, 70 mins)
SUBSTITUTION: GUNNARSSON ON FOR KIM BO-KYEUNG (72 Mins)
This equaliser spurred Cardiff City back into action as the Bluebirds increased the pressure once again. But, it was Bolton who would strike next, N’Gog proving that it was a correct decision to bring him on from Dougie Freedman. Sam Ricketts fired a shot from outside the area, and N’Gog gladly deflected the ball home from around ten yards out.
GOAL: BOLTON WANDERERS 2 – 1 CARDIFF CITY (N’Gog, 74 mins)
SUBSTITUTION: TIM REAM ON FOR CHUNG YONG-LEE (79 mins)
SUBSTITUTION: KERIM FREI ON FOR JOE MASON (84 mins)
With Gunnarsson now on the field of play, City looked to utilise his long throw. This very nearly caught out the Whites’ defence; Cardiff piled men into the box as Bolton left Noone unmarked. He got to the by-line though his cross was dealt with.
Noone was then back in the thick of the action, after some quick feet on the edge of the area he beat two men, curled a shot towards the far post, which was deflected wide. It proved to an important deflection, as the shot seemed to be goal bound.
With Cardiff really pushing for an equaliser they nearly got caught on the counter, N’Gog yet again forcing Marshall to make a diving stop. N’Gog then found himself in the middle of the action again, this time for negative reasons. He was shown a second yellow and his brief influential performance was over.
RED CARD: N'Gog (84 mins)
With five added minutes being announced there was still hope of an equaliser for the visitors. For the second time in the game City had a penalty claim turned down. Hudson appeared to be brought down in the area by Zat Knight, which was incredibly missed by the officials to City's cost.
With seconds of the tie left Bolton nearly got a third, Chris Eagles having to watch his effort cleared off the line by Hudson.There was then a last bit of hope for Cardiff as they won a corner in the very last seconds of the game. For a split second it looked like they had pulled off a brilliant equaliser from the most unlikely of sources. City keeper Marshall had come up for the corner and saw his prodded shot saved instinctively from Adam Bogdan.
FULL TIME: BOLTON WANDERERS 2 – 1 CARDIFF CITY