Snapshot:Cardiff City eventually overcame Sheffield Wednesday to extend their home record to an unprecedented ten wins out of ten on Sunday – but they had to wait for their goal in a frosty encounter at Cardiff City Stadium.
City had the vast majority of possession in the first half, but failed to turn their slick passing into clear cut chances. Both Connolly and Hudson threatened to continue their excellent scoring form from defence, but Kirkland was rarely truly tested in the opening period despite best efforts. Meanwhile, City had to rely on David Marshall to save well from Gary Madine after he’d been put through on goal.
The second half continued in a similar manner as City failed to convert several half chances after some solid build up play. However, the strength of ‘City’s squad proved vital as Craig Conway, deputising for the suspended Craig Noone fired a half volley into Kirkland’s bottom corner to win the match with just ten minutes remaining. The goal was enough to see Cardiff regain top spot over Crystal Palace.
Chronological report:City kicked off against Sheffield Wednesday looking to retain their position at the top of the Npower Championship after two positive results on the road had broken their away day hoodoo. The Bluebirds carved out a great opportunity with just one minute on the clock. Craig Bellamy sped past Chris O’Grady on the left before squaring to the marauding Andrew Taylor, only for the returning left back to clear the bar with his effort.
Michail Antonio was sure to cause the City back line some problems with his searing pace, but he shot harmlessly wide after running on to Mali international Mamady Sidibé’s knock down. However, Bellamy, Whitts and Kim were all combining excellently at the other end with some quick, snappy passing in the final third.
The Owls’ only chance of the first fifteen minutes came through a poor Miguel Llera free kick, the ball striking the wall after Hudson had fouled O’Grady 25 yards out. City were still keeping up the pressure on the Wednesday defence at the other end with a series of chances in front of the family stand as both Helguson and Bellamy didn’t quite connect with their headers from two excellent crosses before Matt Connolly’s left footed shot was deflected over for a corner. Minutes later Mark Hudson also headed over Kirkland’s bar from a ferocious Bellamy delivery.
Cardiff were showing some slick passing and moving as Jordon Mutch, making a home return on his 21st birthday, also linked up with the ever-impressive Kim. And it was Mutch who threatened next for the Bluebirds – his left footed effort deflecting wide off Miguel Llera’s distinctive scrum cap.
Substitution Sheff Wed: Gary Madine on for Mamady Sidibé (33 mins)
But for all their possession and passing in the final third, City were struggling to create anything more than a succession of half chances as the first period was reaching a close. The vast majority of possession was in Wednesday’s half; however, the loss of target man Mamady Sidibé meant that the visitors rarely had an outlet and were restricted to hopeful balls up the pitch, with Gary Madine stranded on his own.
Heidar Helguson was next to worry Chris Kirkland, hooking a left footed effort comfortably wide of the post after a dangerous cross from Conway, deputising for the suspended Noone. But with just one minute of injury time signalled by the fourth official, the referee soon drew an end to a half which, while being promising for the home side was lacking any killer scoring opportunities.
HALF TIME: CARDIFF CITY 0 – 0 SHEFFIELD WEDNESDAY
City looked to keep up the pressure early in the second half as another half chance fell their way. Helguson had released Bellamy with a well weighted pass down the left but, when the ball returned to the Iceman his side-footed effort rose too high. Bellamy himself then stung the hands of Kirkland as his half volley was easily dealt with at the former England international’s near post.
With seven minutes of the second half played, Craig Conway was brought down in perfect territory for a Whittingham effort but City’s number seven struck the wall with his powerful free kick. Moments later Hudson very nearly gave his side the lead in a very unlikely manner – his back heeled flick forcing Kirkland into a fine save as the ball looped towards his top corner.
Cardiff were getting ever closer to opening the scoring as the temperature dropped at the CCS. Craig Conway’s dipping half volley flew inches over after Bellamy’s in-swinging cross fell to him at the corner of the box. But they had to rely on David Marshall to make a fine save with his legs after Gary Madine had been put completely clear by Michail Antonio.
Substitution Cardiff: Joe Mason on for Kim Bo-Kyung (59 mins)
Substitution Sheffield Wednesday: Jermaine Johnson on for Danny Mayor (62 mins)
City had lost some of the zip of their first half performance as their passing began to look more laboured. The Bluebirds turned to Rudy Gestede to offer another option in the final third – The Frenchman coming on for Heidar Helguson, who had put in another solid shift.
Substitution Cardiff: Rudy Gestede on for Heidar Helguson (70 mins)
And the best chance of the game fell to Gestede with his very first touch. Conway’s delivery troubled the Wednesday defence once more but, after rising highest, the forward’s header from just six yards out went agonisingly wide of the post.
Substitution Cardiff: Aaron Gunnarsson on for Jordon Mutch (76 mins)
Malky Mackay pushed both fullbacks forward as they desperately searched for the goal to extend their home record. It seemed as if a tenth straight league win was to elude them as all eleven of Wednesday’s men retreated into their own half.
However, with just ten minutes left the deadlock was finally broken. After some head tennis in the Owls’ box, the ball fell to Craig Conway outside the box and the Scotsman rifled his powerful half volley in to the bottom corner for his first league goal of the season.
GOAL: CARDIFF CITY 1 – 0 SHEFFIELD WEDNESDAY (Craig Conway, 80 mins)
Substitution Sheffield Wednesday: Rodri on for Chris O’Grady (81 mins)
In the final five minutes it was Wednesday’s turn to push men forward as they tried to force an equaliser. Young Spanish forward Rodri showed some neat touches and would have brought his side level were it not for a brave block by Andrew Taylor inside his own six yard box. Chris Kirkland came up for the two late corners which followed, but City held strong, keeping the clean sheet and stretching their home run to a record ten out of ten.
FINAL SCORE: CARDIFF CITY 1 – 0 SHEFFIELD WEDNESDAY
Cardiff City:Marshall, Connolly, Hudson (C), Turner, Taylor, Kim, Whittingham, Mutch, Conway, Helguson, Bellamy
Subs:Lewis, McNaughton, Cowie, Gestede, Gunnarsson, Mason, Lappin
Sheffield Wednesday:Kirkland, Buxton, Taylor (C), Llera, Hélan, Lines, Mayor, Prutton, Antonio, O’Grady, Sidibe
Subs:Bywater, Lee, Jones, McCabe, Madine, Johnson, Rodri