Russell Slade’s Cardiff City returned from Elland Road with all three points, defeating Leeds United, 2-1, in unique circumstances.
The Bluebirds walked out in Yorkshire without their usual away support due to recent differing opinions between City and Leeds on a ticketing front. Off field issues aside, Slade’s men started the match strongly. Craig Noone testing the reflexes of Marco Silvestri with just five minutes on the clock. A reward for their lively opening came with just 14 minutes gone.
Peter Whittingham’s corner kick was met on 14 minutes by former Leeds man Lee Peltier, the defender’s initial headed effort was blocked by the home back line only for Sean Morrison to fire in his sixth of the season at close range.
This seemed to kick the home side into life and they instantly went on the attack, managing to score a fortunate leveler three minutes later. Chris Taylor’s cross from the left wing caught in the wind as it crossed the penalty area, catching out the away defence. Young midfielder Kalvin Phillips reacted quickest to reach the ball and a rare slip from David Marshall gave the 19-year-old an easy chance to net his first professional goal, which he duly took.
Russell Slade was forced into an early change as Conor McAleny suffered an injury setback. McAleny was replaced by Eoin Doyle, who had a good chance to net his second Cardiff City goal inside three minutes. Sol Bamba’s defensive mishap gave the former Chesterfield striker a clear sight at goal, his delayed effort pushed wide by Silvestri.
In his first league start since returning from a loan spell with Bolton Wanderers, Joe Mason was thriving in attack. His continual close control in the penalty area was a constant danger to the home defence and he was unlucky not to score with two efforts in the first period.
Bluebirds up for the battle
An end-to-end start to the second half saw both teams push for a second goal while a scrappy battle ensued in the middle of the park. Yellow cards for Guiseppe Bellusci and Aron Gunnarsson quickly followed at the start of the half.
On 62 minutes, the Bluebirds were rewarded for their patient build-up with a second goal of the afternoon. Mason showed strikers instincts to find space where there seemingly wasn’t any, twisting and turning to fire low at Silvestri – the keeper pushing it out for a corner kick. An almost identical goal followed with Peltier meeting Whittingham’s set piece, guiding it towards Morrison. This time though the central defender was unable to turn it in, but midfielder Aron Gunnarsson was on hand to divert the ball home.
Home manager Neil Redfearn reacted to this goal with a double change, introducing attacking options and Sky Bet Championship stalwarts Steve Morison and Billy Sharp. Former Doncaster man Sharp’s headed effort four minutes after coming on cannoned over off the crossbar – and this was to be Leeds’ only real chance to level as City controlled possession.
The introduction of Stuart O’Keefe helped to steady the midfield for Cardiff in the final ten minutes as Leeds attempted to scare the Bluebirds defence. An equaliser wasn’t to be for the home side, with Russell Slade’s team returning to South Wales with all three points after a valiant performance.
FINAL SCORE: LEEDS UNITED 1-2 CARDIFF CITY (Phillips, 17; Morrison, 14, Gunnarsson, 62)
Leeds United: Silvestri, Byram, Bellusci, Bamba, Wootton, Berardi (Doukara, 86), Murphy, Taylor, Mowatt, Phillips (Doukara, 64), Antenucci (Sharp, 64). Subs Not Used: Taylor, Ngoyi, Montenegro, Cooper.
Cardiff City: Marshall, Peltier, Malone, Ecuele Manga, Morrison, Whittingham, Gunnarsson, Ralls, Noone (O’Keefe, 79), McAleny (Doyle, 32), Mason (Harris, 70). Subs Not Used: Moore, Fabio, Adeyemi, Kennedy.