RUDY BRACE PUTS CITY ON BRINKSnapshot: Cardiff City secured a fine win over ten-man Nottingham Forest courtesy of a trio of headers at the Cardiff City Stadium.
Chronological report: With the Cardiff City Stadium packed to the rafters on a rainy afternoon, the Bluebirds kicked off against Nottingham Forest knowing that they were in for a stern test. Billy Davies’ side hadn’t tasted defeat in ten league games, but City started the brighter and seemed to be getting some joy down the right flank through the likes of Bellamy, Taylor and Kim. As a result, the Forest defence were forced to deal with a couple of early searching crosses as the match kicked off at a high tempo.
The visitors were set up to attack though, and had the first chance as Chris Cohen broke into space down the left and laid it off to Adlène Guedoiura who was lurking outside the box. His driven low effort brushed the side-netting, leading some of the travelling Forest fans in the opposite corner of the ground to believe that they had taken an early lead. At the other end, both Helguson and Bellamy fired early warning shots over.
But, with 25 minutes on the clock, City took a deserved lead. After Kim won a free-kick with some neat skill on the left-hand side, Bellamy stepped up to whip an in-swinging delivery into the box. His ball found the head of Heidar Helguson who had drawn off his marker at the far post to nod the ball down into the bottom corner.
CARDIFF CITY 1 – 0 NOTTINGHAM FOREST (Helguson, 25 mins)
The goal settled the home side, and they continued to play some lovely attacking football while putting pressure on the visitor’s goal. But they had to rely on Marshall to make a superb double save at the other end as Forest broke with purpose. After palming Darius Henderson’s shot away from goal, City’s number one got back up quickly to dive at the feet of Dexter Blackstock who had collected a square ball at the back-post.
Indeed, the match was becoming an end-to-end affair, with chances falling both ways. City felt that they had legitimate complaints for a penalty as Jordon Mutch went down in the box, but referee Andre Marriner waved away the appeals of both fans and players alike. Meanwhile Marshall had to be on hand again to tip Henri Lansbury’s looping, in-swinging free-kick over his bar.
With just a few minutes remaining in the first half the referee made a potentially game-changing decision. As a high free-kick was looped in to the City box, Helguson went down following an apparent swinging arm from Darius Henderson. Mr Marriner was close to the incident and wasted little time in showing the Forest target man a red card.
RED CARD: DARIUS HENDERSON (42 mins)
HALF TIME: CARDIFF CITY 1 – 0 NOTTINGHAM FOREST
Substitution Nottingham Forest: Tudgay on for Majewski (45 mins)
Substitution Cardiff City: Gestede on for Helguson (45 mins)
Nottingham Forest were clearly determined to continue attacking City’s goal as they brought on another striker after the interval in the form of Marcus Tudgay. However, things went from bad to worse for the visitors as Greg Halford left the pitch on a stretcher following a high boot from Rudy Gestede in his own area. Welsh international Danny Collins came on in his place.
Substitution Nottingham Forest: Danny Collins on for Greg Halford (49 mins)
Forest continued to threaten on the break, but they were finding it harder and harder to deal with the City strike force, picking up their third and fourth yellow cards of the game for two fouls outside the box in quick succession. From the resulting free kick Bellamy was just inches from doubling Cardiff’s advantage as his curling effort clipped the outside of Karl Darlow’s right-hand post. But just moments later City were rewarded for their efforts. The ball bounced out wide, where Taylor whipped it back in and Gestede arrived at the perfect time to plant his header home.
GOAL: CARDIFF CITY 2 – 0 NOTTINGHAM FOREST (Gestede, 59 mins)
City were now completely dominant and had an array of good chances in a short period of time following the goal. First Kim dummied one way, then another on the edge of the box before firing towards the top right hand corner. Darlow though, whose grandfather was part of the Wales squad in the 1958 World Cup, leapt to his right to palm the ball away well.
Next to threaten was Leon Barnett, fresh from extending his loan spell in the capital until the end of the season. He saw his far-post header fly just wide, while Kim then laid the ball off for Tommy Smith, whose powerful strike from distance was deflected wide for a corner from which the rampant Bluebirds made it three. Bellamy produced a fine in-swinging delivery once again and Gestede, continuing his huge impact on the game, rose highest to head the ball in off the post.
GOAL: CARDIFF CITY 3 – 0 NOTTINGHAM FOREST (Gestede, 66 mins)
Substitution Cardiff City: Craig Noone on for Tommy Smith (73 mins)
Substitution Nottingham Forest: Guy Moussi on for Adlène Guedoiura (73 mins)
Cardiff threatened to increase their lead to four on several occasions as both Kim and new introduction Craig Noone side-footed efforts just past the post. Meanwhile Bellamy really should have got a goal himself when Aron Gunnarsson drove into the box from the right hand side. The Iceland captain drilled the ball across the face of goal but Bellamy, unmarked at the back post, could only find the side netting.
Substitution Cardiff City: Peter Whittingham on for Jordon Mutch (86 mins)
City saw the game out excellently in the final ten minutes of the match, dominating possession imperiously and keeping Forest at bay. As the fourth official rose his board to indicate four minutes of injury time they nearly rounded the match off in spectacular fashion as Noone’s centre smashed against the far post before rolling across the goal line. The score remained at 3-0 however, and the Bluebirds took a big step towards promotion to the Premier League.
FINAL SCORE: CARDIFF CITY 3 – 0 NOTTINGHAM FOREST