NOONEY KEEP CITY FIVE CLEAR
Craig Noone's eighty-second minute header earned City a point on Tuesday evenining, maintaining their five point lead at the summit of the Championship.
The home side probed throughout the opening period with Derby responding in equal measure, the Rams going close with efforts outside the box from Coutts and Forsyth. Campbell was inches from meeting Tommy Smith's intelligent square and Derby had a goal disallowed when Chris Martin was ruled to be offside in a tight first half.
The second forty-five much reflected the first, both teams battling for control, although Cardiff looked more likely to find the net with good interplay down both flanks. It was against the run of play that Conor Sammon converted from six yards, but City responded magnificently, Noone heading from close range to bring the game level. Cardiff probed for the winner in the final quarter of an hour, but it was not to be this time.
Cardiff have enjoyed much success against Derby in recent times with four wins and a draw from the last six encounters. City now looked to bounce back following the defeat at Middlesborough, young Ben Nugent deputising for injured skipper Mark Hudson. Heidar Helguson, scorer in the reverse fixture at Pride Park that ended 1-1, partnered Fraizer Campbell up front.
City's home crowd were in full voice as Craig Conway was felled outside the Derby box inside the first two minutes, with the Scot's subsequent effort from the dead ball deflected over the bar. Derby then enjoyed a spell of possession before Cardiff broke with intent, Campbell playing in Smith who slid the ball across the six yard box, Campbell inches from converting. Coutts then threatened from twenty five yards with a stinging volley that dropped wide of Marshall's right post. Forsyth was next to pull the trigger, thankfully the result similar.
Campbell, Connolly and Smith then combined well with Smith's composure on the ball winning him space inside the box, and a floated cross to Helguson was well defended by Derby. Conway then broke down the left, and it took foul from Gjokaj – who received a booking for the challenge - to stop the winger delivering.
Derby broke down the left through Gjokaj, squaring to Hendrick, who's effort was excellently deflected by Turner. The stalwart defender then had an opportunity at the other end of the pitch from a Gunnarsson long throw, but the header sailed over Legzdins' crossbar. A quickly taken Whittingham free kick nearly caught Derby napping, but Connolly's touch was too heavy. Derby then put the ball in Cardiff's net emphatically when the ball dropped to Chris Martin following a quick counter attack, but the away fan's celebrations were cut short with the linesman flagging for offside.
Neither team were controlling the game, although Derby were offering more going forward, Paul Coutts again trying his luck from range, a low drive saved well by Marshall. The half was proving stop-start but as the final ten minutes approached Cardiff started to assert themselves. Smith provided another great ball to the far post with Helguson under pressure from Keogh, the striker unable to connect cleanly. Helguson then turned provider with a fantastic tackle to win the ball Deep into Derby's half, the ball eventually falling to Gunnarsson who rifled a shot toward goal. His effort deflected wide as the half drew to a close without further event.
HALF TIME: CARDIFF CITY 0–0 DERBY COUNTY
The second half started much as the first finished, both teams enjoying spells on the ball, and both Connolly and Turner won vital tackles to break down the Rams before Campbell broke. The forward was stopped unfairly by Coutts, who received a booking for the foul. Shortly after, a Gunnarsson long throw was flicked on by Turner, and the smallest of touches stopped Campbell being able to head home from inside the six yard box.
Campbell then found Smith inside the Derby area following a long ball, who turned but his effort was tame and saved routinely by Legzdins. Whittingham had a volley that was destined for the net deflected as Derby started to be put on the back foot, and CCS came alive as Campbell found his self in space, his effort again blocked by a resolute Derby defence. Cardiff were starting to dictate play, moving the ball around in the opposition half with confidence, though a lack of a killer ball was undoing much of City's work.
Substitution Derby: Michael Jacobs on for Craig Forsyth (71 mins)
Substitution Cardiff: Craig Noone on for Tommy Smith (71 mins)
Malky then switched Smith for Noone and the substitute almost immediately made a difference, a short corner by Whittingham taken then rolled across the box by the winger, Derby eventually clearing. Cardiff were made to pay however, when Conway was dispossessed with little support around him inside the Cardiff third, and a low delivery from Ben Davies was converted by Conor Sammon.
GOAL: CARDIFF CITY 0 – 1 DERBY COUNTY (Sammon, 75 mins)
Substitution Cardiff: Joe Mason on for Heidar Helguson (76 mins)
Cardiff were on the back foot after enjoying much of the ball, but it didn't take long for the fight back to begin. Taylor picked out Craig Noone with a fantastic early cross, and the winger, alone at the far post, headed home with aplomb.
GOAL: CARDIFF CITY 1 – 1 DERBY COUNTY (Noone, 82 mins)
Substitution Cardiff: Rudy Gestede on for Craig Conway (83 mins)
Noone then went close to doubling his tally cutting in from the right and curling a fierce shot toward the far corner but it fell the wrong side of the post as City went in search of a winner. Derby won a corner with five minutes remaining, Ben Davies delivering, but Cardiff defended well. Rudy Gestede then tried the spectacular with a scissor kick from all of six yards, but his volley cleared the crossbar. A smart cross field ball from Noonel was headed away by Derby but only fell as far as Taylor, the left back hitting a stinging half-volley that ricocheted wide.
With four minutes of added time announced, Cardiff were in the ascendancy, Rudy Gestede consistently performing his role as target man well, bringing the ball down and winning the aerial battle.
But three points were not to be this time. The referee blew to end a tight contest with City remaining five clear at the top.
FULL TIME: CARDIFF CITY 1-1 DERBY COUNTY