City maintained top spot in the npower Championship on Tuesday evening with a 1-1 draw at Derby County.
Malky Mackay’s men took the lead after just ten minutes when Heidar Helguson made sure from close range after Derby ‘keeper Adam Legdzins made a mess of a Craig Noone cross.
Derby came out at speed in the second half though and when Noone was dismissed for a second yellow card, the home crowd could sense a comeback was on the cards.
Fortunately for the traveling City faithful, that comeback never came; Cardiff stood resolute, defended as one and earned a point to ensure top spot remained theirs going into Sunday's home fixture with Sheffield Wednesday.
Cardiff City started the game with the large City following behind them. The first shot of the match fell to Craig Bellamy on his return to the starting line-up, though his effort from outside of the area sailed comfortably over the cross bar. Derby were to have the first clear-cut chance of the game, with Craig Noone having to clear off the line as a result of an early Derby corner and a Richard Keogh header.
With ten minutes on the clock, Mark Hudson tested Derby keeper Legzdins with a header after staying up after Aron Gunnarsson’s long throw. The 'keeper, instead of tipping the ball over the cross bar, knocked the ball back into play. Luckily for the traveling fans, Heidar Helguson was lurking in the six-yard box to tap home for his eighth goal of the season.
GOAL: DERBY COUNTY 0–1 CARDIFF CITY (HELGUSON, 10 MINS)
After the goal, the Rams visibly upped the tempo in search for an equaliser. A Connor Sammon cross looked to be heading for Theo Robinson in the penalty area, but a timely header from Hudson saw the ball go out for a corner. David Marshall safely punching away the resulting set-piece.
City finally got a break from some relentless Derby pressure just after the twenty-minute mark, as patient passing saw them enjoy their first sustained period of possession. This possession nearly paid off half way into the first half as Peter Whittingham received the ball from a throw in and slotted the ball through the Rams’ defence. The onrushing Kim Bo-Kyung could only place the ball wide of the left hand post.
Derby Substitution: James O’Connor on for Gareth Roberts (27 mins)
The next ten minutes of the game ticked by without either team getting hold of the game. But on thirty seven minutes, that changed. A jinking run down the right flank from Theo Robinson saw him find his way into the Cardiff box where his pass picked out Paul Coutts who forced Marshall to make a fine save diving low to his right.
With just a few minutes left of the half, Gunnarsson was deemed to have committed a foul on the edge of his own penalty area. Coutts stepped up to take the set piece in a very dangerous position; however, the Scot could only find the head of Whittingham who gladly cleared.
After getting out of one dangerous situation Cardiff found themselves back in another one when Kim gave away a free kick not far from the right hand corner flag. Coutts again took the set piece and this time found the head of teammate Jake Buxton, though his effort failed to threaten Marshall in the City goal and went out for a goal kick.
HALF TIME: DERBY COUNTY 0-1 CARDIFF CITY
It was Derby who started the second half the brightest. Sammon looked as he was about to pull the trigger from around ten yards out after Theo Robinson had played him in, but thankfully for Cardiff, Joe Ralls was at hand to slide in and dispossess the Derby front-man.
Craig Bellamy found himself with the ball on the edge of the Derby area ten minutes into the second period. Matt Connolly looked up and played a long ball to the Cardiff striker, but like his first effort of the game Bellamy’s effort comfortably cleared the cross bar.
Derby picked up the pace once again and after a number of blocked shots in the box the ball came out wide to Michael Jacobs. After only being booked a matter of minutes before, Noone was deemed to have tripped the wide man and shown a controversial second yellow - City's second red in as many games.
Derby Substitution: Nathan Tyson on for Michael Jacobs (67 mins)
With the extra man, Derby inevitably started to dominate possession. This domination led to a great chance for the home side. Craig Bryson broke down the left flank, darted into the box and played a driven pass across the goalmouth. Derby striker Robinson found himself in the right place, at the right time to gladly tap the ball home for the equaliser.
GOAL: DERBY COUNTY 1 – 1 CARDIFF CITY (THEO ROBINSON, 68 MINS)
Cardiff City Substitution: Jordan Mutch on for Craig Bellamy (70 mins)
Cardiff City Substitution: Craig Conway on for Aron Gunnarsson (72 mins)
Despite being down to ten men, Cardiff did not consign themselves to sitting back for the draw. Kim Bo-Kyung ran from the half way line to the edge of the area and played a lofted ball towards Helguson. Legzdins came out flapping, but Helguson could not direct the header goal bound to restore an unlikely lead.
Cardiff City Substitution: Joe Mason on for Heidar Helguson (80 mins)
Derby came agonisingly close to taking the lead with less than ten minutes left on the clock, but Sammon’s header crept ever so slightly past the Marshall’s right upright.
Derby County Substitution: on for Theo Robinson (81 mins)
The Derby fans were feeling aggrieved moments later when a cross from the left touchline was ushered out for a corner by Whittingham. They felt it was handball, the officials disagreed. Cardiff hadn’t given up on a victory themselves either and a corner with five minutes left certainly gave the fans hope of snatching victory. Whittingham curled the ball near post, Nugent attempted a flick on but County cleared.
The fourth official held up the board and indicated there would be six minutes of added time. The Derby fans were sensing a late winner. Ten-man Cardiff stood strong but could not prevent a last minute corner, although it caused no problem. The final delivery of the game certainly did, although Connolly on the post was there to clear the ball off the line and ensure that City did not leave the Midlands empty handed.
FULL TIME: DERBY COUNTY 1-1 CARDIFF CITY
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