Cardiff City got back to winning ways at home, beating Sheffield Wednesday 2-1 in a well contested match at Cardiff City Stadium.
Wednesday started the quicker in the capital, and were unlucky not to take the lead when Fábio superbly slid Stevie May’s effort off the line. However, it was City who broke the deadlock just before half time when Peter Whittingham’s trademark in-swinging free kick was headed home commandingly by Sean Morrison.
After the break Morrison was unfortunate to score at the other end as he prodded Chris Maguire’s low centre past Marshall. But Anthony Pilkington stepped up to drive the Bluebirds to victory, smashing home Kenwyne Jones’ knock down and earning his side an important three points.
Chronological Report:While the visitors came to South Wales six points and ten places above the Bluebirds in the Championship table, both sides were still smarting from midweek Capital One Cup exits.
The Owls had bowed out courtesy of a 7-0 defeat away to Manchester City, but they started on the front foot on this occasion as several energetic bursts from Stevie May caused the Cardiff back line problems.
Indeed, it was May’s cross which only just evaded his strike partner Atdhe Nuhiu’s head when the Austrian looked all set to nod home four minutes in. Just minutes later, and May was at the heart of the action once more. The former St Johnstone man sprinted clean through and rounded David Marshall, only for Fábio to track back and heroically slide the ball off the line.
The Bluebirds had their first half chance just before the fifteen minute mark as Aron Gunnarsson dragged his snap shot a foot wide of the near post. From then on a good atmosphere began to develop at the Cardiff City Stadium and, with the crowd behind them, the home side started to put more consistent pressure on the Owls.
That pressure nearly paid off when Mats Møller Dæhli, who was looking lively just off the front man, fed Anthony Pilkington on the left flank. Unfortunately for City, when he crossed the ball in, Gunnarsson’s flick was palmed away by Keiren Westwood and the rebound came too fast for Kenwyne Jones who volleyed well over the bar.
That chance spurred the whole side on though, and the Bluebirds went on to fire themselves into the lead shortly before the half time whistle.
The visitors had given away a free kick 30 yards out after a cynical hand ball from Joe Mattock, and with Peter Whittingham standing over the dead ball there was always going to be danger for the Owls. A pin-point in-swinging delivery was to follow, and Sean Morrison rose highest to power his header emphatically into the back of the net.
GOAL: CARDIFF CITY 1 – 0 SHEFFIELD WEDNESDAY (Sean Morrison, 39 mins)
HALF TIME: CARDIFF CITY 1 – 0 SHEFFIELD WEDNESDAY
The Bluebirds came out for the second half looking full of confidence and continued to threaten in the first couple of minutes. But within minutes they lost their lead in desperately unlucky circumstances.
Chris Maguire had found space on the right and when the winger put in a low centre, Morrison had to deal with the ball at the near post and could only prod it past the despairing Marshall.
GOAL: CARDIFF CITY 1 – 1 SHEFFIELD WEDNESDAY (Sean Morrison OG, 50 mins)
The goal seemed to put the wind in Sheffield Wednesday’s sails and they could have taken the lead on two separate occasions within the next five minutes. First, Maguire whipped in a superb ball that Nuhiu was inches away from connecting with - and then, the ever impressive May turned another Maguire delivery just past the post.
This was turning into a pulsating end-to-end affair, as City followed up the visitors’ period of dominance with an excellent spell of their own. Whittingham and Gunnarsson both drove low shots wide of the target before Anthony Pilkington saw a point blank smashed effort spectacularly saved by Westwood.
City fans would have felt that the effort deserved a goal, but Pilkington put that right in the very next attacking move. The Republic of Ireland international controlled a Jones knock down, turned his defender inside the box and powered the ball across goal from close range. This time Westwood was powerless to stop it and the Bluebirds stormed back into the lead.
GOAL: CARDIFF CITY 2 – 1 SHEFFIELD WEDNESDAY (Anthony Pilkington, 61 mins)
Young and Gabbidon brought on Ravel Morrison for his début in the aftermath of the goal. The midfielder replaced Craig Noone and showed some very good touches in his first involvements as City tried to control proceedings and allow the match to simmer down.
The home side didn’t stop attacking though, and orchestrated a superb chance when Ravel Morrison evaded several challenges before looping the ball over to Pilkington at the far post. As the ball was sent back across, Gunnarsson’s improvised effort was flicked over the bar with ten minutes remaining on the clock.
City did superbly to see out the win in the remainder of the match, choosing to leave men up and keep their visitors under pressure rather than sitting back on the lead.
It proved to be a successful tactic, and the score would have been more comfortable were Kiko Macheda not ruled offside when he slotted the ball home at the death. Nevertheless, City held on against a very good Sheffield Wednesday side to notch an important three points.
FULL TIME: CARDIFF CITY 2 – 1 SHEFFIELD WEDNESDAY
Cardiff City:Marshall ©, Brayford, Manga, S Morrison, Fábio (Ralls 86), Gunnarsson, Whittingham, Noone (Morrison 64), Dæhli, Pilkington, Jones (Macheda 67).
Subs not used:Moore, James, Adeyemi, Le Fondre.
Sheffield Wednesday:Westwood, Palmer, Buxton, Mattock, Loovens ©, Semedo (Madine 76), May, Nuhiu, Maguire (Drenthe 67), Coke (Hope 67), Maghoma.
Subs not used:Kirkland, McCabe, Hélan, Dielna