Cardiff City came away from Ewood Park with a hard-fought point against a battling Blackburn Rovers.
The Bluebirds kicked-off with an attacking starting-eleven, though found themselves on the back foot following a little indecision on the left hand side. Blackburn pushed forward and won a free kick on the edge of the area, central and inside the D. Tom Cairney struck, though the City wall stood strong.
After a brisk start by the home side, City came into the game more. Good play between Dæhli and Whittingham allowed Kenwyne Jones to knock down to Adam Le Fondre; the striker did well, but defender Kilgallon was equal to it and able to win a free-kick to relieve pressure. Mark Hudson was next to sense a goal-scoring opportunity, controlling well in the Rovers final third and striking from distance without troubling former England international Robinson.
City were really playing well, with conviction and purpose. Peter Whittingham and Aron Gunnarsson began bossing the game as it drifted towards ten minutes old – the former testing Robinson with three consecutive superbly delivered corner kicks that threatened the Blackburn goal each time.
Then on 17 minutes, City’s superb pressure told. A foul by Grant Hanley on Kenwyne Jones allowed Whittingham to deliver a free-kick from the City right. Predictably, it was inch perfect – allowing Mark Hudson to flick a header to the back post for Jones to power home with his head. It was the least City deserved, after dominating the opening period.
GOAL: BLACKBURN ROVERS 0-1 CARDIFF CITY (Jones, 17)
Blackburn came back into things somewhat after City’s first blood, finding joy down their right hand channel but without being able to find a final ball. The Bluebirds looked dangerous on the counter attack, Maynard and Jones linking up well in attack with the latter showing strength and tenacity to burst into the area on 25 minutes, only to fire side footed straight at Robinson.
An audacious overhead kick effort by Rudy Gestede brought the quiet Blackburn fans into life on 35 minutes – and it stunned players of both sides momentarily. Craig Conway was quickest onto the ball and may have done better, but for the good closing down and pressure of John Brayford. Blackburn, however, were starting to see more of the ball and territory.
Indeed, their good possession would tell, six minutes before the break. A moment of rare indecision by Peter Whittingham allowed Tom Cairney to nick the ball of City’s talisman and curl home a superb effort from distance. David Marshall was at full stretch but unable to get enough purchase on an unstoppable effort.
GOAL: BLACKBURN ROVERS 1-1 CARDIFF CITY (Cairney, 39)
There was no further action of note prior to the half-time whistle, which came after two minutes of injury time at Ewood Park. The opening 20 minutes of this one very much went Cardiff’s way, though Blackburn’s second 25 plus two – not to mention their equaliser – would give them confidence going into the break.
HALF TIME: BLACKBURN ROVERS 1-1 CARDIFF CITY
Blackburn Rovers Substitution, 45 minutes: Matt Kilgallon replaced by Lee Williamson
Blackburn began the second half as lively as they finished the first, testing the City back line down both flanks. Some great tenacity and wing play by Conway ended with the Scot finding Rudy Gestede in the area; Gestede rose highest and headed goalwards, though his dipping effort fell just wide and high of Marshall’s right hand corner.
Cardiff City Substitution, 54 minutes: Mats Møller Dæhli replaced by Tom Adeyemi
The game hit arguably its dullest patch five minutes either side of the hour mark. Blackburn looked to push with City sitting deeper, though they never unduly troubled Marshall or his back four. The introduction of new signing Tom Adeyemi allowed City to open up a little as they reverted to more of a 4-3-3 formation.
Cardiff City Substitution, 68 minutes: Kenwyne Jones replaced by Guido Burgstaller
There was little action of note in the subsequent 15 minutes of this one. Blackburn seemingly ran out of steam, as Cardiff defended resolutely and looked for a route through on the counter. Burgstaller and Adeyemi’s presence added height and a different approach for the Bluebirds, though neither ‘keeper would be unduly troubled during this spell.
Cardiff City Substitution, 85 minutes: Adam Le Fondre replaced by Magnus Wolff Eikrem
Craig Conway almost had the final say. In the 89th minute, referee Madley gave a harsh free-kick against Mark Hudson, 25 yards out and to the left of goal. Conway struck straight at goal with venom, though his effort was always rising and didn’t force a save out of Marshall. Three minutes of injury time came and went, and City would return home to South Wales with a fair point from a tough opening away fixture.
FINAL SCORE: BLACKBURN ROVERS 1-1 CARDIFF CITY
Cardiff City:Marshall, Brayford, Fábio, Hudson ©, Connolly, Whittingham, Gunnarsson, Dæhli, Maynard, Le Fondre, Jones. Subs: Moore, John, Kim, Eikrem, Adeyemi, Théophile-Catherine, Burgstaller.
Blackburn Rovers:Robinson, Kilgallon, Hanley ©, Lowe, Cairney, Rhodes, Olsson, Baptiste, Evans, Conway, Gestede. Subs: Kean, King, Dunn, Marshall, Varney, Williamson, Taylor.
Referee:Mr. A. Madley.