Cardiff City vs Leeds United
BELLAMY & WHITTS STEER CITY TO WIN
Cardiff City made it three League wins on the bounce at Cardiff City Stadium after seeing off Leeds United by two goals to one in their first home game at 3pm on a Saturday since February.
Fixtures between these two sides are regularly competitive affairs and this was no exception. The first half saw numerous crunching tackles with both sides keen to put their stamp on the opposition. A player from each side entered the book as the first half remained goalless despite some half-hearted penalty appeals for both sides, referee Tierney remaining unmoved for them all.
, taking the penalty after letting Bellamy assume free-kick duties earlier, made it two by sending the keeper the wrong way. Peter Whittingham, whose thunderous left-sided free-kick flew into the top corner of Paddy Kenny's net. The Bluebirds' lead was doubled less than five minutes later, and again it was a set piece that beat Kenny - Craig BellamyThe second half was all about the set pieces. Cardiff took the lead thanks to the returning
The final minutes of the game were nervy for the home fans after Rodolph Austin's free kick pulled one back, but thankfully for the Bluebirds it proved to be nothing more than a consolation.
Cardiff City returned from the early-season international break by naming an unchanged starting line-up from their previous league outing against Wolves two weekends earlier. The only squad change saw Craig Bellamy taking a place on the bench following his recovery from the injury which had kept him out since the visit to Brighton. The Bluebirds were looking to continue their one hundred per cent record at home this season.
As always, a feisty atmosphere greeted the two sides as both sets of fans sought the victory in the latest tie of what has become established as a mini-rivalry between the two sides in recent years.
The match saw the latest return to South Wales of former Bluebirds striker Ross McCormack, though his appearance was brought to a forced end within the first ten minutes.The striker left the field on a stretcher, though not before he obliged to the home crowd's demands for an ayatollah.
Leeds Substitution: Luke Varney on for Ross McCormack (5 mins)
Craig Noone, so dangerous against Wolves, curled in a tenth-minute cross which Leeds defender Tom Lees headed out for a corner, much to the relief of the scrambling goalkeeper Kenny. Down the other end, a small panic in the City area was caused by a Leeds counter-attack, with substitute Varney and Sam Byram each being denied by McNaughton and Marshall respectively.
On the half-hour City started to find themselves with opportunities to test Kenny's resolve in the Leeds goal. A thirty-yard effort was gathered by the former QPR man, before Jordon Mutch followed the fans' demand to shoot by firing wide of the left-hand post.
After numerous strong challenges by both sides, Leeds' Jamaican international Rodolph Austin became the first player to enter the book for cynically bringing down Maynard on the counter on thirty-seven minutes. Less than a minute later, Tommy Smith joined him, outraging the away fans with his challenge on Leeds winger Byram.
Two minutes before half-time, Maynard turned in the box and fired at goal, with his shot being deflected away, in the eyes of the incensed home crowd, by the flailing arm of one of the Whites' back four.No penalty was awarded by the referee. In an increased period of pressure, Heidar Helguson headed over from a left-sided Whittingham corner as the half ended scoreless.
HALF TIME: CARDIFF CITY 0-0 LEEDS UNITED
Leeds Substitution: El Hadji Diouf on for Adam Drury (46 mins)
A strong challenge by captain Mark Hudson on the game's newest arrival Diouf set in motion a Cardiff move which culminated in Kenny diving low to his left to deny his former QPR teammate Helguson, the Icelandic striker being played in by a headed centre from McNaughton. Jordon Mutch went close with a curling effort soon after, though as with his first-half effort this too went just wide of Kenny's post.
The start of the second half also saw an increased attacking role from Whittingham, scorer of three last time out against Wolves. Two efforts from outside the box from the Bluebirds' number seven were blocked and cleared.
Tommy Smith was presented with a magnificent chance to open the scoring on 63 minutes as a McNaughton cross sailed over the Leeds defence, but his left-footed effort went agonisingly over. The break in play saw Craig Bellamy replace Craig Noone, with Malky Mackay sensing a goal was imminent.
Cardiff Substitution: Craig Bellamy on for Craig Noone (64 mins)
A near identical cross was played this time by Smith to the right-hand side of the box, with Mark Hudson's diving header being denied at full stretch by Kenny.
New Leeds loan signing Michael Tonge saw yellow just after the hour for bringing down Nicky Maynard on the edge of the box. Whittingham and Bellamy stood over the set-piece, with most expecting Whittingham to take one of his signature free kicks at goal, but it was the Welsh captain who hammered a strike high beyond Kenny into the right-hand corner of the net. The goal was reminiscent of Bellamy's first goal in a City shirt at home to Doncaster two seasons ago.
GOAL: CARDIFF CITY 1-0 LEEDS UNITED (Bellamy, 67 mins)
Maynard, who was causing the Leeds defence numerous problems with his pace, was brought down again four minutes later. This time it was in the box, bringing referee Tierney to point to the spot. Peter Whittingham doubled Cardiff's lead without any hesitation with the penalty.
GOAL: CARDIFF CITY 2-0 LEEDS UNITED (Whittingham pen, 73 mins)
Cardiff Substitution: Aron Gunnarsson on for Jordon Mutch (76 mins)
In the same fashion as Cardiff went ahead, Leeds got their first goal of the afternoon from a set piece. Gunnarsson gave away a free kick for a foul on Luke Varney, and Roldolph Austin's effort wrong-footed Marshall and nestled in the bottom corner of the goal.
GOAL: CARDIFF CITY 2-1 LEEDS UNITED (Austin, 77 mins)
Cardiff Substitution: Don Cowie on for Nicky Maynard (83 mins)
Leeds Substitution: Dominic Poleon on for Luke Varney (83 mins)
Leeds almost managed an equaliser after the game's final substitutions, with their captain Lee Peltier heading just over from a right-sided cross in a worrying moment for Bluebirds supporters.
The five minutes of injury time were a period of concentrated defensive work by the Bluebirds as they sought to make it three league wins on the bounce at home. They held on to put their league points tally for the season to ten, placing them joint second in the league.
FULL TIME: CARDIFF CITY 2-1 LEEDS UNITED