Bristol City vs Cardiff City
ROBINS TAKE SPOILS IN THE SEVERNSIDESnapshot:Bristol City took the first Severnside derby of the season on Saturday beating Cardiff City by four goals to two at Ashton Gate.The visitors started the game much the brighter with Mark Hudson hitting the bar early on, though it was Bristol who took the lead in the thirty-third minute with Stephen Pearson finishing from inside the area.
On the stroke of half time Bristol were two to the good. This time it was Jon Stead who held off debutant Matt Connolly before freeing Martyn Woolford inside the box, the former Scunthorpe man composing himself before stroking the ball past David Marshall.
Joe Mason came on for Aron Gunnarsson at half time and made an immediate impact. The youngster won a corner in the fifty-sixth minute which was headed against the bar by Heidar Helguson - Mason on hand to rise highest and nod home the rebound.
Peter Whittingham came close to levelling things up three minutes later with a shot from inside the area, though Bristol took advantage of the let off to strike a killer blow. Impressive subtstitute Sam Baldock saw his effort strike the post with Marshall stranded before Woolford popped up to strike home.
Cardiff again came back into the game with Heidar Helguson pulling a goal back with seven minutes to go, but it was Baldock who had the final say as he took advantage of a Hudson error to finish neatly into the bottom corner of the goal.
Cardiff City started very brightly at Ashton Gate, working the ball around nicely and bearing down on the Bristol City area. Debutant Tommy Smith was linking up very well with Jordon Mutch, with big spaces showing early on in the Robins midfield.
The visitors continued to dominate both in possession and territory, though didn't find any clear cut opportunities in front of Tom Heaton's goal except for one Mark Hudson half-chance after eight minutes. But the first clear sight of goal came for the home side in the fifteenth minute, Albert Adomah striking wide with the outside of his boot after a neat lay off from Jon Stead.
The chance settled Bristol and they began to enjoy more of the ball in the centre of the park with the tricky Adomah running at the heart of the City defence. Good work down the left by Mark Wilson allowed Ryan Taylor a half chance in the twenty-sixth minute, though the striker couldn't quite connect with Wilson's cross and saw his header hit the side netting.
And with pressure building, the Robins took the lead. David Marshall looked to get play restarting quickly by finding Aron Gunnarsson in space, though, under pressure, the midfielder gave the ball away cheaply to Stead. The striker turned to free Adomah in the area who cleverly laid the ball back across goal, Stephen Pearson composing himself to curl a neat shot away from Marshall and into the corner of the goal.
GOAL: BRISTOL CITY 1-0 CARDIFF CITY (Pearson, 33)
The goal appeared to rattle Cardiff, who soon clicked into top gear in pursuit of Heaton's goal. Good build up in the thirty-sixth minute led to Peter Whittingham seeing his shot deflected wide; from the resulting corner, Mark Hudson leapt highest, only to see his header rebound of the crossbar with Heaton stranded.
Cardiff pushed hard to find the equaliser before the break, though on the stroke of half time were hit with a killer blow. A hopeful ball forward found Stead up against Connolly; the striker did well to play through the advancing Martyn Woolford, who ghosted into the City penalty area and fired past Marshall into the bottom corner of the goal.
GOAL: BRISTOL CITY 2-0 CARDIFF CITY (Woolford, 45)
HALF TIME: BRISTOL CITY 2-0 CARDIFF CITY
Substitution Cardiff City: Joe Mason on for Aron Gunnarsson (45 mins)
The introduction of Joe Mason brought about a more traditional 442 formation and it was the young striker who brought about a double corner for Cardiff in the fifty-sixth minute following a well struck effort from just outside the area. From the second of those corners from the Cardiff right, Heidar Helguson flicked on a near post header which struck the bar, before Mason himself nodded home from close range to bring Cardiff within touching distance.
GOAL: BRISTOL CITY 2-1 CARDIFF CITY (Mason, 56)
On the hour mark City came close again. From another Whitttingham corner, Hudson rose at the far post, though couldn't get enough power on his header allowing Heaton to come and gather.
Substitution Bristol City: Sam Baldock on for Jon Stead (63 mins)
Former West Ham man Sam Baldock entered the fray with twenty five minutes to go and almost had an immediate impact. Hudson was caught in defence looking to play a long ball up field, with the ball falling kindly in Baldock's favour; he broke forward into the Cardiff area, switching onto his right foot from the left hand side before striking just wide of Marshall's near post.
A great ball by Don Cowie found Smith in space on the left of the area bearing down on goal. Smith cut the ball back across goal which was headed out by Liam Fontaine; it fell kindly to Whittingham inside the area albeit with some spin, and the midfielder could only strike wide.
It proved a costly miss. From the very next attack, the dangerous Baldock saw his effort strike the post; Cardiff were slow in reacting, and Woolford struck home the easiest of finishes into a gaping net.
GOAL: BRISTOL CITY 3-1 CARDIFF CITY (Woolford, 69)
Substitution Bristol City: Marvin Elliott for Ryan Taylor (74 mins)
Substitution Cardiff City: Etien Velikonja on for Tommy Smith (75 mins)
Substitution Cardiff City: Joe Ralls on for Jordon Mutch (79 mins)
It appeared as if going two behind for a second time had scuppered City's chances of taking anything from Ashton Gate, but, following the introduction of Joe Ralls, City pulled another back. Ralls freed Mason down the left hand side, who played an excellent ball back across goal to the feet of Kevin McNaughton. McNaughton struck poorly with his left foot, though the ball fell kindly in the area to Heidar Helguson who struck low underneath Heaton for his second goal in Cardiff colours.
GOAL: BRISTOL CITY 3-2 CARDIFF CITY (Helguson, 81 mins)
Substitution Bristol City: Steven Davies on for Albert Adomah (84 mins)
But with four minutes to go, another Cardiff mistake allowed Baldock to kill off the game. Cunningham cut the ball out expertly coming forward from left back before slipping Baldock in between McNaughton and Hudson and into the penalty area. The striker composed himself for the easiest of finishes, stroking home underneath Marshall.
GOAL: BRISTOL CITY 4-2 CARDIFF CITY (Baldock, 86)
FULL TIME: BRISTOL CITY 4-2 CARDIFF CITY