Cardiff City got their 2014-15 preparations off to the best of starts after a comprehensive 3-0 victory over Carmarthen Town at Haverfordwest’s Bridge Meadow Stadium.
Splitting a talented squad into separate eleven’s for the first and second half, it was the returning Nicky Maynard who gave the Bluebirds an early advantage as he slotted home a precise Joe Mason cross at the far post. Mason was on the scoresheet himself just before the interval as he beat two before slotting home between the legs of Carmarthen stopper Lee Idzi.
With wholesale changes seeing just Joe Lewis start the second-half from the original starting-11, Federico Macheda was quickly out of the blocks to claim a debut goal on 59 minutes as he slotted home from a Fabio cross.
Putting early pre-season preparations into action for the first time ahead of the upcoming 2014-15 Sky Bet Championship season, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer sent a strong 22-man squad to west Wales with the aim of giving at least 45 minutes os playing time to each member of his squad.
Starting with a front line consisting of two players who spent the majority of last season away on loan from Cardiff City Stadium, Mason and Maynard soon showed signs of sharpness as Mason sent a fourth minute effort just wide.
Just three minutes later the two combined once more to see Maynard turn home a precise Mason cross to give the Bluebirds an early lead - the ball rebounding off the underside of the crossbar before nestling into the back of the net.
Chris Hartland sent an effort just over the crossbar in response for Carmarthen, before Mats Moller Daehli looked to provide the killer pass for Mason only for stopper Lee Idzi to come quickly off his line to claim.
23 minutes in, Craig Noone was withdrawn as a precaution after an early knock to signal an earlier than planned introduction for Austrian International Guido Burgstaller. The summer signing soon set up Mason only to see the goal ruled out for offside.
Mason soon got his goal however, beating two defenders before slotting the ball between the legs of Lee Idzi to double City’s advantage going into the break.
HALF TIME: Carmarthen Town 0-2 Cardiff City
Nine changes at the break saw just Joe Lewis and Burgstaller return for the second period as Adam Le Fondre and Macheda linked-up up front for the first time since making their summer arrivals.
Macheda was soon celebrating a debut goal as he met a Fabio cross to slot home City’s third and put the Bluebirds in complete command at Bridge Meadow Stadium. The Italian almost had a second just a minute later, only to see him fire his left footed effort over the crossbar.
Jo Inge Berget was next to threaten a fourth only to see his long range effort dip just over the crossbar, fellow midfielder Burgstaller was next to see an effort just denied by a fingertip save from replacement Carmarthen stopper Scott James.
Four minutes later Le Fondre almost got himself on the scoresheet only to be denied by the woodwork after looking to turn home the rebound after Macheda’s initial effort was parried.
With ten minutes to go, substitute goalkeeper Ben Wilson was brought on in an unfamiliar outfield role, replacing midfielder Burgstaller who came on as an earlier first-half substitute. The City stopper almost grabbed himself a sensational goal as he looked to round the Carmarthen ‘keeper only for James to get his fingertips to it.
Berget and John Brayford saw late efforts denied as the Bluebirds looked for a fourth but it was a comprehensive enough victory as the game finished 3-0.
FULL TIME: Carmarthen Town 0-3 Cardiff City
Cardiff City: Lewis, McNaughton (Brayford 45), Hudson (Connolly 45), Theophile-Catherine (Turner 45), John (Fabio 45), Daehli (Berget 45), Gunnarsson (Eikrem 45), Whittingham (Ralls 45), Noone (Burgstaller 23 (Wilson 80), Mason (Le Fondre 45), Maynard (Macheda 45).
GOALS: Maynard (6), Mason (45), Macheda (59)