POINT A PIECE WITH POTTERS
It was to be two penalties that decided the result at a sunny Cardiff City Stadium when Stoke City visited the capital. After going all season without a penalty being awarded in a Cardiff fixture penalties either side of half-time saw the score end 1-1.
The first penalty was awarded to the Potters when Odemwingie, facing away from the Bluebirds’ goal took a tumble under pressure from Kim Bo-Kyung. After a moment of deliberation Howard Webb pointed to the spot before Marko Arnautovic converted the spot-kick. Cardiff’s penalty came in the second half as Campbell was brought down within five minutes of the break. This time it was Peter Whittingham who kept his nerve to bring the scores level.
Three points could have been staying in the Welsh capital only for Juan Cala to be denied a third goal in a City shirt when his header was chalked off due to an offside infringement. Stoke came close to a winner of their own late on only to be denied by a fantastic David Marsahll save and some help from the woodwork from a Jonathan Walters strike.
Both teams lined up at the Cardiff City Stadium with unchanged starting line-ups after each picked up impressive 1-0 wins in their previous fixtures. However, it was the home side who started the brighter with Mats Møller Dæhli seeing his shot deflected wide from inside the area. The young Norwegian was in the thick of the action again just minutes later as his pinpoint pass left Jordon Mutch with just Begović to beat. The Bosnian international doing enough on this occasion to keep the scores level.
With fifteen minutes on the clock Stoke had their first opportunity to test the Bluebirds’ defence. Stephen Ireland whipped a free kick in from the right touchline, which just evaded the head of Peter Crouch before being comfortably dealt with by Cardiff. It was Dæhli who continued to pull the strings in the City midfield with another dart into the box before some neat play between him and Kim allowed Mutch to shoot from the edge of the area. His shot travelling wide of the goal.
Cardiff continued to push forward and Fraizer Campbell soon had his first chance of the game. After a powerful run from just inside the Stoke half his shot cannoned off a Potters’ defender over the crossbar. With Cardiff committing men forward Mark Hughes' men looked to capitalise on the break through Stephen Ireland. Ireland, after running from his own half managed to release the ball to Peter Odemwingie whose strike was brilliantly saved by Marshall, denying the Nigerian a dream return to the Welsh capital.
Stoke were forced to make an early substitution midway through the first half when Erik Peiters, last weekend's game winner was forced off the field of play through injury. In his place came defender Marc Muniesa. It was Stoke who had the lion’s share of possession but it was being soaked up well by an organised Solskjær outfit. After the Potters’ spell with the ball Cardiff burst forward and gained a free-kick after a foul on Campbell. It was Peter Whittingham who took on the responsibility on the edge of the eighteen-yard box. His left foot strike was agonisingly tipped wide of the upright after it looked destined for the back of the net.
With the half time whistle a matter of seconds away a challenge by Kim in the Cardiff penalty area saw Odemwingie saw the former Bluebird fall to the floor. After taking a his time to assess the situation Howard Webb eventually pointed to the spot, the first penalty conceded by City this season much to the despair of the home supporters. Marko Arnautovic stepped up for the visitors and calmly slotted the ball down straight down the middle of Marshall’s goal. That was how the scores remained as the whistle for the break shortly followed the restart.
Half time: Cardiff City 0 – 1 Stoke City
Cardiff came out second half hoping to deny Stoke their sixth win in their last eight matches. These hopes took a huge boost after five minutes when Campbell gained a penalty of his own. Again, Whittingham took the set-piece responsibility, this time successfully as he struck City's first goal of the Premier League season left of the Stoke stopper. With the scores now level the home side, buoyed by their equaliser continued to push forward and gained a number of successive corners.
The Bluebirds had appeared to level it in the fifty-sixth minute when Juan Cala headed home what would have been his second goal in as many games. It followed initial efforts fro Steven Caulker who saw shots come both off the post and saved by Begović. Sadly for the home supporters Cala had been in an offside position when he found the net, as the linesman cut celebrations short.
The sixty-minute mark saw the introduction of Wilfried Zaha at the expense of Kim Bo-Kyung but the next ten minutes went by with little incident, only a long distance shot from Stephen Ireland a notable effort, a strike sailing just wide. With both sides pushing for a winner Hughes took off goal scorer Arnautovic and replaced him with Oussama Assaidi. It was Cardiff who had the next chance after the substitution, Campbell took a tumble in the box appealing for the third spot-kick of the game, this time referee Webb waved play on.
Solskjær, looking for a game winner of his own introduced former Potter Kenwyne Jones into the fray. Mats Møller Dæhli left the field to rapturous applause from the City faithful. Jones almost had an immediate impact when his ball through the defence just missed the feet of the on-rushing Campbell. Shortly after, Solskjær made his final change, Fábio making way for Declan John.
Odemwingie once again called Marshall into action with five minutes of the ninety remaining, this time the Scotland international saving low to his left. From the resulting corner, after a bit of a scramble in the area the ball was eventually cleared. City broke soon after and some great linkup play between the two Cardiff front men almost resulted in Campbell being through on goal, some last ditch defending from Muniesa denied him.
Stoke looking for their fifth win against Cardiff in their last eight meetings between the sides came close to finding a winner. First Marshall produced another wonderful save to deny Assaidi, after the substitution found himself one-on-one with the in form Keeper. Just moments later Jonathan Walters struck a long range effort, this time the ball cannoning of the cross-bar and out for a goal kick.
The fourth official indicated four minutes and it was Stoke who pressed in these final minutes. The Cardiff defence stayed resilient and the scores stayed level. City now two points from safety with Norwich still to play.
Full Time: Cardiff City 1 – 1 Stoke City
Cardiff City: Marshall, Caulker ©, Whittingham, Medel, Campbell, Kim (Zaha, 60), Mutch, Cala, Théophile-Catherine, Dæhli (Jones, 81), Fábio (John, 84) Subs Not Used: Lewis, Turner, Eikrem, Gunnarsson,
Goal: Campbell (50)
Stoke City: Begović, Cameron, Pieters (Muniesa, 29), N'Zonzi, Shawcross ©, Wilson, Odemwingie, Whelan, Crouch, Ireland (Walters, 85), Arnautović (Assaidi, 78).
Subs Not Used: Sørensen, Palacios, Adam, Wilkinson
Goal: Arnautovic (45)
Attendance: 27,686 (2,111 away)