Cardiff City finally held the coveted Championship trophy aloft in the capital after securing a well-earned point against playoff chasing Bolton.
While City had several opportunities to take the lead at the CCS, it was the Trotters who went in at half-time one nil up. After Sam Ricketts ventured up the field on the right flank he cut the ball back to Chris Eagles who lashed the ball into Marshall’s bottom corner.
City kept up the pressure on Bolton’s goal in the second half though, and equalised thanks to the introduction of Craig Noone. The lively winger promptly whipped in several dangerous crosses before taking on free-kick duties to curl the ball past Bogdán from 25 yards.
However, it’s the post-match celebrations that will fill up the headlines as Mark Hudson and the squad paraded the trophy around a packed out Cardiff City Stadium. Malky Mackay and his players were all in jubilant spirits as they had the chance to celebrate what has been a sensational campaign in front of their home fans.
While Cardiff’s coronation as champions dominated the pre-match build up, the City squad knew that they had a tough test ahead of them against an in-form Bolton Wanderers, who came to the capital with nine wins from their last twelve games. The Trotters gave the Cardiff line up the traditional guard of honour as they took to the pitch at CCS, but there was no room for niceties once the whistle had blown as City started the match in top gear.
With less than a minute on the clock, Kim Bo-Kyung found himself in space on the left and squared the ball to a waiting Jordon Mutch. Unfortunately, the England U21 international couldn’t break the deadlock as he saw his strike from six yards bounce back off the post.
Having set up that chance, Kim Bo-Kyung was at the centre of the action once more on the ten minute mark. After lone striker Rudy Gestede turned his man on the right flank, he played the ball inside to the South Korean playmaker who jinked past the marking Zat Knight. The foul earned Knight an early booking and gave City the chance to test out Bogdán with a free kick 25 yards out. Kim took it himself but the Hungarian did well to keep a hold of his low dipping effort.
While City had started the brighter, it was the visitors who took the lead with their first clear-cut chance of the game. Wales international Sam Ricketts ventured forward down the right and evaded Andrew Taylor to drive in to the box. When he cut the ball across the area, Chris Eagles hardly had to break his stride to lash the ball into the bottom left-hand corner of Marshall’s net.
GOAL: CARDIFF CITY 0 – 1 BOLTON WANDERERS (Chris Eagles, 18 mins)
After the goal, City looked to respond immediately as they kept up some pressure in the final third of the pitch – most of Cardiff’s attacking play coming through the likes of Craig Bellamy, deployed on the right wing this afternoon, and Kim Bo-Kyung.
Bolton looked dangerous on the break, however, and they had a chance to throw some men forward when Conway gave the ball away to Eagles high up the pitch. The former Manchester United winger showed his pace as he burst down the left wing before whipping the ball across the box. Having evaded the first man it broke to Darren Pratley alone on the far post, but with the former Swansea man looking certain to score, Scotland’s number 1 came to Cardiff’s rescue to keep the ball out.
Chris Eagles was looking the liveliest for the visitors who, having got a firm foot-hold in the game, started to rack up some more possession in the Cardiff half. But at the other end, City nearly equalised with the half time break looming. Craig Conway whipped in a trademark in-swinging delivery, but after Rudy Gestede had risen highest, his header was deflected wide of the post, leaving the half-time score at one nil to the visitors.
HALF TIME: CARDIFF CITY 0 – 1 BOLTON WANDERERS
In to the second half and neither side were able to carve out any clear-cut goal scoring opportunities as the match restarted at a slower pace. However, Bellamy gave his side some impetus after ten minutes, making a determined run down the right flank. His delivery set up a brief period of Cardiff pressure culminating in a driven cross from Craig Conway which flew across the face of the goal.
Substitution Cardiff: Craig Noone on for Craig Conway (58 mins)
Next, Malky looked to the bench to bring some added flair to City’s attack. It was Craig Noone’s number sixteen that was raised on the fourth official’s board, and the scouse winger almost made an instant impact, swinging in a looping cross that just evaded Rudy Gestede on the far post.
Substitution Cardiff: Tommy Smith on for Jordon Mutch (62 mins)
Noone’s arrival had brought some extra urgency to the side as City began to knock on the door, coming within an inch of equalising. A world class save from Ádám Bogdán was what kept them out this time as he stretched out his fingertips to grasp hold of Tommy Smith’s side-footed effort, following Noone’s excellent cross.
Substitution Bolton: Craig Davies on for Marvin Sordell (64 mins)
Having been on the pitch for less than ten minutes, Craig Noone rounded off his instant impact on the match with a goal. City were awarded another free kick just 25 yards out, and Noone placed the ball with purpose ahead of Bellamy and Kim Bo-Kyung. Although not a regular free kick taker for the Bluebirds, he curled the ball superbly over the wall and into the bottom corner to equalise.
GOAL: CARDIFF CITY 1 – 1 BOLTON WANDERERS (Craig Noone, 68 mins)
Cardiff upped the pressure after the goal and looked the more likely to score in the next 10 minutes, earning a succession of free kicks and corners through the pace of Bellamy, Noone and Smith. Rudy Gestede, who put in another fine performance in the City shirt, was the target of the majority of these deliveries as he saw a couple of headers comfortably dealt with by Bogdán.
Substitution Cardiff: Ben Nugent on for Kevin McNaughton (83 mins)
An under-hit back pass from Ben Turner then almost gifted Bolton a late winner with five minutes remaining. Marshall was alert enough to get there ahead of Darren Pratley though, and slid in bravely to get the ball out of play. From the resulting long throw Bolton threatened to score once more. The ball fell to Craig Davies with his back to goal, and the Welsh target man spun and fired a powerful drive comfortably past Marshall’s post.
Substitution Bolton: Stuart Holden on for Josh Vela (90 mins)
A couple of injury-time corners gave City the chance to grab a winner but the Bolton defence held firm to keep the score at 1 – 1. While the point kept Bolton’s play-off aspirations well and truly alive, it was also greeted with rapturous applause from a packed out CCS, eagerly anticipating the post-match trophy presentation. Mark Hudson and co eventually held the trophy aloft in the centre-circle, lapping up their deserved congratulations for a fine season in front of a jubilant home crowd.
FINAL SCORE: CARDIFF CITY 1 – 1 BOLTON WANDERERS