Cardiff City got themselves back to winning ways as they comfortably saw off Blackburn Rovers at Cardiff City Stadium. The win took the gap between first and third in the nPower Championship to eleven points.
Blackburn goalkeeper Jake Kean was busy in the first half as Cardiff signalled their attacking intent. Leon Barnett, Kim Bo-Kyung, Craig Bellamy and Craig Conway all had efforts on target during the opening forty-five minutes, but Kean stood strong right up until the final effort of the half. Craig Bellamy hooked a left-sided corner into the penalty area, and Fraizer Campbell headed in at the far post to collect his sixth goal since joining the club in January.
Blackburn’s caretaker manager Gary Bowyer felt his experienced substitute David Dunn was a key influence in an improved performance by his side in the second half, but it was two of Malky Mackay’s replacements that sealed the game for the Bluebirds. Joe Mason found the net as he rounded Blackburn’s substitute keeper Grzergorz Sandomierski, and Peter Whittingham got back on the goal trail by converting a penalty won by Mason in stoppage time.
nPower Championship leaders Cardiff City sought to atone for Saturday’s loss at London Road against eighteenth-placed Blackburn Rovers at Cardiff City Stadium.
Manager Malky Mackay made four changes to his starting line-up following the defeat at Peterborough just two days earlier, with Kim Bo-Kyung, Jordon Mutch, Craig Conway and Craig Bellamy coming in for Peter Whittingham, Don Cowie, Tommy Smith and Heidar Helguson. Bellamy took the captain’s armband against his former club in the absence of Mark Hudson, was looking to continue his competitive rivalry with Blackburn defender Grant Hanley, the two having met just over a week ago when representing their respective countries. Caretaker manager Gary Bowyer took charge of Blackburn for the sixth time this season after going undefeated in his previous five.
Cardiff won the reverse fixture at Ewood Park comprehensively, and sought to replicate the performance they produced in December’s 4-1 win. A home win would have seen Cardiff complete their first double over Rovers in the league since 1979. History was with the away side though – a win would have been their fifth successive away victory over the Bluebirds.
Leon Barnett had the first effort on target after just over a minute. Craig Bellamy’s right-sided free-kick made its way to Cardiff’s loan defender, but his finish proved comfortable for Jake Kean in the Blackburn goal. A reckless-looking challenge from behind by Blackburn’s Josh Morris on Bellamy was deemed not worthy of a yellow card by referee Craig Pawson, much to the chagrin of the home fans.
A corner won by Kim and taken by Bellamy seemed to elude everyone in the penalty area as Kean scrambled, a panicking defence eventually clearing their lines. Bellamy, who was seeing a lot of the ball in the game’s early stages, fired a free-kick into the arms of Kean not long after. Kim nearly caught out the away side with a right-sided corner on thirteen minutes, but Kean again managed to tip the ball away.
Fraizer Campbell’s intelligent pass to Andrew Taylor allowed the left back to have an effort on goal which was deflected out for a corner. The Cardiff players were outraged at the referee’s failure to spot what they deemed a hand used by the defender in giving away the corner. Leon Best saw the game’s first yellow card for dissent after the referee had penalised him for backing into Aron Gunnarsson. Gunnarsson, who got Cardiff’s goal at London Road, fired wide of Kean’s goal a minute later.
The away side had the ball in the back of the net on thirty-five minutes as Kazim-Richards turned in a left-sided cross, but the offside flag proved his undoing. Fraizer Campbell hit the bar on the swivel in the first of three quick-fire Cardiff chances. Kean pushed Conway’s drive away before Matt Connolly fired high over the bar from the rebound. The best defending so far came as Bellamy was denied twice. Aron Gunnarsson’s long-range throw-in found City’s captain, who was first denied by Kean and then saw David Jones complete a fantastic last-ditch clearance to keep City out.
The resulting corner was a chance too far for the so-far resilient Rovers defence. Bellamy found Fraizer Campbell at the far post and the unmarked former Sunderland striker headed his sixth goal for the club. Goalkeeper Kean was booked for his protestations as Cardiff celebrated.
GOAL: CARDIFF CITY 1-0 BLACKBURN ROVERS (Campbell, 40 mins)
HALF TIME: CARDIFF CITY 1–0 BLACKBURN ROVERS
Kean’s second half lasted just under ten minutes as he left the field on a stretcher. Polish keeper Grzegorz Sandomierski, on loan from Genk, was his replacement. Joe Mason replaced goalscorer Fraizer Campbell three minutes later for the home side.
Blackburn Substitution: Grzegorz Sandomierski on for Jake Kean (53 mins)
Cardiff Substitution: Joe Mason on for Fraizer Campbell (56 mins)
Kim Bo-Kyung was not far off getting one of the best goals seen at Cardiff City Stadium as his left-footed volley went just over the bar on fifty-eight minutes. David Dunn replaced David Bentley for Blackburn on the hour-mark, the former Tottenham winger having had a very quiet game.
Blackburn Substitution: David Dunn on for David Bentley (61 mins)
Sandomierski’s reactions were tested when a rebound fell kindly for Bellamy, the substitute getting to the ball just ahead of Cardiff’s Welsh forward. Ben Turner took no prisoners when closing down Leon Best on the break, the Cardiff centre-half making no mistake in the execution of his tackle.
With fifteen minutes left to play, Rovers turned to their twenty-three goal top-scorer Jordan Rhodes, who replaced the experienced Danny Murphy.
Blackburn Substitution: Jordan Rhodes on for Danny Murphy (75 mins)
The left foot of Kim was put to good use again as he drove a shot that was going just narrowly wide of the target as Sandomierski pushed it away. Leon Barnett was putting in a good shift at the back as he twice used his head to stop counter-attacks by the away side, the second impressive as he looked off-balance.
A lazy challenge from Kazim-Richards on Conway brought him Blackburn’s third yellow card of the game. Young Tom Kane, on loan from Chelsea, had a long-range left-footed effort go wide of Marshall’s right post as Blackburn struggled to create any real clear-cut chances.
Cardiff Substitution: Peter Whittingham on for Jordon Mutch (81 mins)
A great stop from Sandomierski prevented Ben Turner from doubling Cardiff’s lead. Craig Bellamy, played in by substitute Whittingham, crossed for defender Turner, whose bullet header was stopped at full-stretch by the Pole in goal. Sandomierski’s next action was to pick the ball out of the back of his net, as Joe Mason controlled the ball and fired beyond him to, like Campbell earlier in the game, get his sixth goal of the season.
GOAL: CARDIFF CITY 2-0 BLACKBURN ROVERS (Mason, 86 mins)
Cardiff Substitution: Rudy Gestede on for Craig Bellamy (88 mins)
Colin Kazim-Richards’ looping effort tapped David’s Marshall’s bar as the clock ticked over to ninety minutes, but this was Cardiff’s day. Scott Dann was booked and gave away a penalty after taking down Joe Mason in the penalty area, and fellow substitute Peter Whittingham put the resulting penalty straight down the middle to get his eighth of the season in all competitions, tying Aron Gunnarsson and Heidar Helguson at the top of Cardiff’s scoring charts.
GOAL: CARDIFF CITY 3-0 BLACKBURN ROVERS (Whittingham pen, 90+4 mins)
Cardiff held on for the remainder of the five minutes of injury time to take their points tally to seventy-eight, seven clear of Hull City in second place and, more importantly eleven clear of Watford in third. The win meant Blackburn became the seventh side that the Bluebirds have beaten home and away in the Championship this season.
FULL TIME: CARDIFF CITY 3–0 BLACKBURN ROVERS