Cardiff City extended their unbeaten run to nine games and restored their eleven point cushion at the top of the table with an impressive 2-1 win over Bristol City.
Malky Mackay’s men dominated from start to finish, though despite numerous chances it took forty-five minutes for Fraizer Campbell to finally break the dead lock and score on his home debut.
Campbell then doubled his tally in the second half, smashing in from Aron Gunnarsson’s long throw. There were some unnecessary nerves caused as Ben Nugent headed into his own net with only a few minutes left of injury time, but City held onto for the win much to the delight of a packed Cardiff City Stadium.
It was Cardiff who started the game the brighter. The first opportunity came after just two minutes when a dangerous Craig Noone delivery was forced behind for a corner. The resultant corner was dealt with by Bristol but it was the home side who maintained the pressure.
It was Noone who was in the thick of it again on the ten minute mark. After some neat build up play his delivery this time found Mark Hudson in the penalty area. Hudson who had stayed up after a long throw could only deflect the ball straight at Tom Heaton as he seemed surprised the ball had reached him.
Fraizer Campbell was making his home debut for Cardiff City and his first piece of the action came as he crossed the ball towards Tommy Smith. Again Bristol safely put it behind for a corner.
Tom Heaton was called into action on his return to the Cardiff City Stadium on the fifteen-minute mark. Craig Noone was once again in the heart of City attack and produced a strong strike straight at the Bristol stopper. Heaton was being kept on his toes by the Cardiff front line and if it wasn’t for his intervention, Campbell may have registered early on. Heaton gathered the ball as Campbell was lurking near the front post.
The pressure on the visitors’ defence was unrelenting and Heaton was once again forced into action. This time he tipped the ball over from a fierce free kick struck by Craig Bellamy from thirty-five yards out. The chances did not stop there with Gunnarsson nearly poking home from close range.
With twenty-five minutes on the clock Bristol had hardly ventured out of their own half and Cardiff were still knocking on the door. This time Bellamy turned provider as Noone met his cross. The header was blocked and led to another City corner.
Heaton was having an impressive performance on his return to Welsh capital. Matt Connolly whipped a cross towards the back post, Noone headed a cross goal and the ball eventually fell to Frazier Campbell. He produced a snap shot on the turn but Heaton maintained his clean sheet and parried it away diving to his right.
As half time was looming Cardiff had yet another chance to break the deadlock. Heaton rushed out of his area and cleared as far as Tommy Smith. He played it forward to the ever-present Craig Noone who’s shot whistled inches past the left hand post.
Tommy Smith was really influencing play in the centre of midfield. He made a darting run forward after a neat turn out on the right, played the ball wide to Fraizer Campbell and carried on into the area. Smith found the ball back at his feet, slid it through the defence back to Campbell who with the outside of his right foot dinked it into the left corner of the Bristol City net.
GOAL: CARDIFF CITY 1 – 0 BRISTOL CITY (Fraizer Campbell, 45 min)
The whistle blew soon after the goal and Cardiff City went in at half time with a much-deserved 1-0 lead.
HALF TIME: CARDIFF CITY 1 – 0 BRISTOL CITY
Cardiff started the half as they ended the first and had a penalty shout turned down within the first two minutes. Campbell went down under a heavy challenge from Lewin Nyatanga but the referee waved play on.
Bristol had their second shot on goal five minutes into the second half when Liam Kelly saw his long range shot go just over the cross bar and land on the top of the netting.
City soon replied when Bellamy and Noone linked up once again. Bellamy provider once again and Noone came sliding towards the ball at the front post only to have the ball nicked away from him at the last second.
Cardiff were really looking to take advantage of Aron Gunnarsson’s long throw. With fourteen minutes gone in the second half Gunnarsson released one of his long throws in the Robins' area. The ball was not dealt with by the Bristol defence and it fell to Campbell. Once again Campbell was clinical and fired the ball home from five yards to double the City lead.
GOAL: CARDIFF CITY 2 – 0 BRISTOL CITY (Fraizer Campbell, 59 mins)
Bristol were looking for a route back into the game and for the first time in the match seemed to be pressing forward.
Cardiff City Substitution: Don Cowie on for Tommy Smith (64 mins)
Bristol City Substitution: Albert Adomah on for Paul Anderson (64 mins)
Bristol were seeing their best spell of possession midway into the second half and it resulted with their first corner of the entire match. The Cardiff defence dealt with it with relative ease.
Cardiff City Substitution: Heidar Helguson on for Fraizer Campbell (73 mins)
Fraizer Campbell left the field to a standing ovation on his home debut and rightly so after his two brilliantly taken goals. His replacement, Heidar Helguson was straight into the action and won a free kick on the edge of the area. The set piece came to nothing.
David Marshall had to make his first save of the afternoon and that was with three quarters of the game gone. Once again it came from long range. This time however it was Stephen Kelly who forced Marshall to produce a good save diving to his right.
Bristol City Substitution: Brian Howard on for Stephen Pearson (80 mins)
Bristol City Substitution: Neil Kilkenny on for Liam Kelly (80 mins)
Cardiff City Substitution: Kim Bo Kyung on for Craig Noone (84 mins)
Just like Heidar Helguson, Kim made an immediate impact. His clever dummy allowed the ball to reach Andrew Taylor on the wide left. Taylor made his way to the edge of the box and pulled the ball back to Don Cowie. His goal bound shot was headed clear.
As four minutes was being held up by the fourth official Bristol City forced a corner. Bellamy managed to gather the ball the edge of his own area and sprinted up the pitch. He appeared to be fouled on the edge of the opposition area after a brilliant run, but the referee waved play on much to the dismay of Malky Mackay.
It seemed that the game would come to end with little incident but two minutes into injury time Bristol played a ball forward and with no one around him Ben Nugent accidently headed into his own net as he tried to play the ball back to David Marshall.
GOAL: CARDIFF CITY 2 -1 BRISTOL CITY (Nugent o.g, 90 mins)
The nerves could be sensed around the stadium with a couple of minutes left of the encounter. Thankfully for City fans much of the remaining time was run down with Craig Bellamy winning a corner deep into injury time and the scores remained the same.
FULL TIME: CARDIFF CITY 2 – 1 BRISTOL CITY
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