Craig Noone’s superb late equaliser earned the Bluebirds an opening-day point against Fulham at Cardiff City Stadium.
BLUEBIRDS ON TOP
An excellent atmosphere greeted the City players back to the capital for the early-kick off at CCS. They soon repaid the fans with a superb start too, as the Bluebirds did all the early running against the Cottagers.
Kagisho Dikgacoi’s outstanding pass split the Fulham defence on ten minutes as he spotted Anthony Pilkington’s direct run into the box. Pilkington squared the ball to Joe Mason, who was lurking in the area, but the in-form forward couldn’t direct the ball goalwards.
Fulham did cause problems at the other end on occasion – most notably through their number nine Matt Smith, as City’s defensive duo of Sean Morrison and Matt Connolly had to be on hand to deal with his aerial threat.
FULHAM HIT FIRST
City were playing some fine stuff in the CCS sunshine, as they moved the ball with flair and real purpose. As the match hit the half-hour mark, they continued to create chances with both Mason and the marauding Lee Peltier seeing efforts kept out by the Fulham back line.
The visitors had their best chance yet with the interval approaching though. Returning Bluebird Ross McCormack showed a turn of pace, taking Connolly on, before flashing an effort across Simon Moore’s goalmouth.
The hosts again came close to opening the scoring either side of the break, as Mason’s low effort was first kept out by Lonergan after 31 minutes. Then, just after the match restarted, Pilkington turned inside the box but saw his powerful strike deflect against the crossbar.
However, just two minutes later, it was Fulham who went ahead. After Moore could only palm Ben Pringle’s over-hit cross against the bar, Smith was first to pounce on the loose ball inside the box, heading it past the young ‘keeper.
CITY PRESSURE PAYS OFF
City thought they had hit back immediately when Alex Revell’s header was diverted into the corner by Anthony Pilkington, but the linesman deemed that Pilkington had handled as he ran into the six-yard box. They then needed a last ditch Connolly block to prevent Pringle from doubling the Whites’ lead at the other end, after McCormack had squared the ball across goal.
The Bluebirds had been desperately unlucky not to get on the score-sheet though, as they continued to carve out opportunities. Mason saw another rifled shot superbly palmed away by Lonergan, before Malone got in on the action – curling an effort just over the bar.
However, with five minutes remaining, City were finally level – and in some style too. Craig Noone, a recent replacement for Dikgacoi, picked up the ball on the right flank before curling a beautiful 25-yard shot into the top corner.
The Bluebirds survived a late scare when Moussa Dembélé ignored City’s protests for off-side and cut in towards Moore’s goal, looking all set to score. Connolly again stepped up to put the ball out of danger though, preserving the 1-1 score-line.
FINAL SCORE: CARDIFF CITY 1-1 FULHAM (Noone, 86; Smith, 47)
CARDIFF CITY: Moore, Peltier, Malone, Morrison, Connolly, Dikgacoi (Noone 77), Whittingham, Pilkington, Ralls, Revell (Ameobi 63), Mason. Subs not used: Wilson, Fabio, O’Keefe, Gunnarsson, Doyle.
FULHAM: Lonergan, Richards, Hutchinson, Burn, Cairney, Voder, Pringle, Vigen Christensen, O’Hara, McCormack, Smith (Dembélé 77). Subs not used: Bettinelli, Bodurov, Kačaniklić, Mattila, Woodrow, Hyndman.