Snapshot: Cardiff City lost their first away game in ten matches after going down 2-1 to Middlesbrough at the Riverside on Saturday afternoon.
The home side began the game strongly, scoring two quick fire goals before twenty minutes were on the clock, which gave Cardiff a lot to do. Following the below par first half performance, Cardiff vastly improved in the second period and pulled a goal back through Aron Gunnarsson.
In a frantic finale to the game, ‘City foraged forward in desperate search of a last gasp equaliser with Marshall pushing forward and Helguson seeing a header saved in the dying moments. The gap at the summit is now reduced to five points with the Bluebirds having game in hand over the chasing pack.
Chronological Report: Boro started brightly and had the first effort on goal when Sammy Ameobi nodded a free kick over Marshall’s crossbar.
Travelling Cardiff looked to grab an early lead, but failed to test Steele in the opening ten minutes with Taylor and Bellamy sending speculative shots wide of the target. The home side’s threatening attacking play paid off however, when Ishmael Miller gathered the ball inside the Cardiff box before passing across the face of goal to Kieran Dyer who tapped beyond Marshall.
GOAL- MIDDLESBROUGH 1-0 CARDIFF CITY (Kieran Dyer, 12 minutes)
It was a goal that Cardiff would have been frustrated to concede due to defensive mistakes, but that frustration was only to grow further, as five minutes after taking the lead, Boro doubled their goal tally. Debutant Ameobi collected the ball fifteen yards from goal before whipping the ball sweetly into the top corner beyond the unmoved David Marshall.
GOAL- MIDDELSBROUGH: 2-0 CARDIFF CITY (Sammy Ameobi, 17 minutes)
Cardiff desperately attempted to draw level before the break and were close to doing so when a corner kick fell to captain Whittingham who saw his thunderous drive tipped over by Jason Steele.
Middlesbrough looked threatening on the counter attack and had a chance to make it three after thirty five minutes when a long ball caught out the Cardiff rear guard. The shot was off target though, sparing City’s blushes.
Minutes before half time Boro were again close to scoring a third after a long spell of Cardiff possession. Scott McDonald attempted a dipping drive which took a wicked deflection, but Marshall was on hand to pull off an acrobatic save.
HALF TIME: MIDDELSBROUGH: 2-0 CARDIFF CITY
Cardiff Substitution- Ben Nugent on for Kevin McNaughton (45 minutes)
After fifty seven minutes, Cardiff had their first shot on target of the half with Peter Whittingham’s thirty five yard drive stinging the gloves of Steele.
Cardiff Substitution- Heidar Helguson on for Tommy Smith (58 minutes)
As the half progressed, so did the visitors attacking play, rewarded on the sixty seventh minute by pulling a goal back. A pinpoint Craig Bellamy cross from a corner found the unmarked Aron Gunnarsson, who nodded home in front of the City faithful to restore hope.
Cardiff Substitution- Craig Noone on for Craig Bellamy (69 minutes)
Middlesbrough Double Substitution- Emmanuel Ledesma on for Sammy Ameobi and Marvin Emnes on for Kieran Dyer (69 minutes)
In the remaining ten minutes of play, Cardiff desperately pushed for a late leveller and were agonisingly close to notching the goal they arguably desired when Frazier Campbell’s header bounced off the deck before springing over the goal frame.
Middlesbrough Substitution Curtis Main on for Ishmael Miller (86 minutes)
As the fourth official signalled five minutes of added time, Cardiff piled forward in numbers with David Marshall remarkably playing as a striker in a manic period of added time. His efforts proved in vein though, as City failed to notch the equaliser, going into Tuesday’s clash with Derby on the back of a frustrating defeat.
Middlesbrough: Steele, Leadbitter, Dyer, Friend, Ameobi, McDonald, McManus, Bailey, Miller, McEachran, Hines. Subs: Emnes, Ledesma, Williams, Halliday, Man, Leutwiler, Smallwood.
Cardiff: Marshall, McNaughton, Taylor, Turner, Whittingham, Conway, Connolly, Smith, Gunnarsson, Campbell, Bellamy. Subs: Cowie, Kim, Noone, Mason, Helguson, Nugent, Lewis.