The Bluebirds got their 2012-13 season underway with a pre-season friendly against Forest Green Rovers on a warm summer afternoon at The New Lawn.
Both sides played some good football to entertain the large travelling Cardiff contingent, however, it appeared that City suffered slightly from their lack of match practice as Forest Green had already got their preseason campaign underway. Matty Taylor and man of the match Norwood were particularly impressive for the Rovers as Taylor tested Joe Lewis on more than one occasion. But the deadlock was broken in the twenty-fifth minute as Norwood broke down the left, beating young full back Deji Oshilaja, before squaring to Omar Koroma to slide the ball under Joe Lewis.
The second half saw an entirely different City team come out onto the field. New captain Stephen McPhail was forced off after picking up an injury after less than five minutes. This left Cardiff with just ten men for the rest of the half as they had already fielded all of the travelling players. The Bluebirds' numerical disadvantage meant that they rarely threatened in the second period, but did well to limit Forest Green to a few half-chances. The second half was certainly a friendly match in every sense of the word, as no players entered the book and the final score remained 1-0.
Cardiff City kicked off their 2012-13 campaign in perfect conditions at The New Lawn, the picturesque home of National Conference club, Forest Green Rovers. The Bluebirds were planning to field completely different sides in the two halves of this pre-season encounter, giving the chance for a few new faces and academy graduates to pull on the shirt for the first time. The starting line up was as follows: Joe Lewis, Deji Oshilaja, Mark Hudson (c), Dekel Keinan, Andrew Taylor, Peter Whittingham, Filip Kiss, Craig Conway, Jessie Darko, Robert Earnshaw, Etien Velikonja.
With the game underway Dekel Keinan conceded an early foul on Matty Taylor to give Forest Green the first chance to get the ball in the box, the ball was cleared though as a few early attacks by the Rovers were comfortably dealt with. Cardiff looked slightly more composed on the ball in the opening stages, but neither side were able to string a move together until the lively Matty Taylor fired wide with a left-footed strike following a defensive mix up.
Only moments later it was a case of déjà vu as Matty Taylor capitalised on a rare sloppy pass by Peter Whittingham. Joe Lewis did well to parry the ball against the post before collecting the rebound as he was called upon for the first time in his Cardiff career.
Jessie Darko looked impressive attacking from the right and fired wide after showing some neat skill, moments before putting Sam Russell in the Forest Green goal under sufficient pressure to earn the Bluebirds' first corner of the match following a charge down.
The lively Omar Koroma was the next to threaten for the Rovers, heading straight into Joe Lewis Hands from a corner resulting from a solid clearing header by Andrew Taylor.
Centre half Todd then did well to get to the ball before Velikonja following a cross by Craig Conway, before Referee Steve Tanner waved away the Cardiff fans half-hearted appeals for a penalty after Filip Kiss tricked his way into the box before going down.
Matty Taylor was looking extremely dangerous for Forest Green on the break and Joe Lewis would have had his heart in his mouth as his clearance was charged down by the striker. Fortunately the ball didn't have quite enough power to cross the line and the new keeper was able to collect.
A trademark slide tackle from Filip Kiss then set up a promising piece of play from the Bluebirds as Earnshaw threatened down the right. The ball eventually fell to Kiss to finish the move he finished, but his long range left-footed drive didn't worry Sam Russell. Next to have a pop was Earnshaw himself, as Craig Conway showed some good footwork and centred. The Rovers 'keeper answered all questions of him again, aided by some committed Forest Green defence.
Fellow academy graduates Deji Oshilaja and Jesse Darko were combining well down the right wing but James Norwood then showed excellent pace down the left and left Oshilaja in his wake before committing Mark Hudson on the goaline. He then squared the ball to Omar Koroma, who made no mistake this time - slotting the ball under the large frame of Joe Lewis with a fairly tame effort.
GOAL: FOREST GREEN ROVERS 1-0 CARDIFF CITY (Koroma 25)
Substitution Cardiff: Kevin Sainte-Luce on for Jesse Darko (29 mins)
Following the goal the Bluebirds brought on the Guadeloupian Kevin Sainte-Luce for Jesse Darko and seemed determined to strike back quickly, with Whittingham, stinging the hands of the Rovers' keeper with a powerful effort. Filip Kiss was also performing well in his role as midfield enforcer but seemed to be operating on a shoot on sight policy as another dipping long shot flew just over.
Andrew Taylor then evaded his marker on the left wing, crossing well to set up another half chance for Robert Earnshaw and then Dekel Keinan. The Forest Green defence, however, put their bodies on the line once more to block both efforts before the energetic Sainte-Luce threatened from an unlikely source- heading just wide from an in-swinging Conway corner.
With half-time looming the extremely impressive Conway demonstrated his skill once more, allowing Kiss to cross for Etien Velikonja. The new Slovenian striker, however, was unable to direct his header towards goal. Filip Kiss then fired over with yet another effort from distance in the last play of the half, meaning City trailed 1-0 to Koroma's strike at the break.
HALF TIME: FOREST GREEN ROVERS 1-0 CARDIFF CITY
replaced the first half line up, with McPhail taking over the captaincy.Parish, Blake, Gerrard, Turner, Nugent, Harris, McPhail, Gunnarsson, Ralls, Mason and JarvisTrue to his word Malky Mackay fielded a completely different team for the second half, with not one player retaining his place on the pitch.
Kadeem Harris showed excellent skill and persistency on the right flank in Cardiff's first meaningful attack of the second half but Joe Mason's following effort was dealt with comfortably.
McPhail seemed to give City more composure in the centre of the park, leading to better ball retention in the opening exchanges. Unfortunately he was forced off the pitch after under five minutes, seeming to clutch his hamstring. However, with Saint-Luce ready to return to the field, the referee appeared to inform Mackay that this would not be allowed. The Bluebirds were therefore forced to see out the contest with just 10 men - victim of their own decision to replace the entire line up at the interval.
Ben Turner then cleared the ball out for a corner after a powerful surge forward by Ben Wright, but Darcy Blake did well to clear for the ball away from danger as Forest Green looked to exploit their numerical advantage.
The skilful then Norwood broke almost the entire pitch following a sloppy pass by Darcy Blake in the opposition penalty box but their subsequent neat passing move lacked any real penetration. The National Conference side continued to pass the ball very well with Taylor, Rowe and Norwood all impressing.
Kadeem Harris' excellent skill earned Cardiff a free kick 30 yards out following neat interplay with Joe Mason and new captain Aron Gunnarsson. And it was the Icelandic international himself who stepped up to drive the ball low and hard to the keepers' left. A string of corners followed with centre back partnership Ant Gerrard and Ben Turner, as well as Kadeem Harris all threatening from Ralls' in-swinging deliveries.
However, Forest Green showed that they could also threaten from corner kicks, with Rowe's delivery falling to big centre half Jamie Turley. Right back Oshodi also looked dangerous going forward as Rovers tested Elliot Parish for the first time, forcing a good parried save.
Substitution Forest Green Rovers: Green, Styche and Forbes on for Oshodi, Rowe and Taylor
Young left back Ben Nugent appeared very solid at the back, but after he unexpectedly found himself on the end of a squared ball by the ever impressive Harris his right-footed effort did not challenge Russell in the Rovers' goal.
Substitution Forest Green Rovers: Klukowski on for Norwood
The remainder of the second half flew by despite being fairly uneventful as neither side seriously threatened. Neat football was played by both teams throughout, however, as Cardiff's efforts were limited to a long range strike by Darcy Blake
Kadeem Harris hoped to have even more joy attacking through the middle and his burst of acceleration set up Ben Nugent on the left. Joe Mason stepped over his squared cross, but unfortunately there was no one in behind to finish the move off. Cardiff then looked to Aron Gunnarsson's long throw to salvage them a point as full time approached. A goal kick was given by the linesman though after Turner and Jarvis battled the Forest Green defence for the ball, leaving the final score 1-0 to Forest Green Rovers.
FINAL SCORE: FOREST GREEN ROVERS 1-0 CARDIFF CITY
Watch highlights of Saturday's game, plus reaction from Malky Mackay, Etien Velikonja and Kadeem Harris later on Cardiff City Player