REPORT: CARDIFF 1-1 BLACKBURN
Blackburn Rovers came into the game after hitting Premier League Stoke for four but were a little lucky to return to Lancashire with a point from the match at Cardiff City Stadium. The Bluebirds had the better of the first half under the lights but were unable to muster an opening. A goal line clearance from Eoin Doyle's shot proved to be the best chance of the opening 45 minutes.
City edged the second half over the visitors and looked to have won it late on when Sean Morrison rose the highest to turn in a Peter Whittingham corner. With 90 minutes on the clock, Rudy Gestede made a scoring return to the Welsh capital after turning the ball in from a Scott Malone goal line clearance to secure a somewhat fortuitous point for the travelling Rovers.
Cardiff City started the game with two changes to the starting eleven that drew with Brighton and Hove Albion. Stuart O’Keefe and Conor McAleny making way on this occasion for Eoin Doyle, and debutant Matthew Kennedy. It was the Bluebirds who came out of the blocks the fastest and put Rovers under some early pressure.
However, the first effort on goal came from a former Bluebird when Craig Conway tried his luck from distance. His strike however sailed comfortably wide of the City goal.
The introduction of Kennedy to the starting eleven looked to be an inspired choice from Russell Slade as the former Everton youth product was causing a great deal of problems down the right flank and peppered the box with crosses in the opening exchanges.
With quarter of an hour gone it was a delivery from the other wing that Blackburn had to deal with. A Craig Noone cross found its way to Eoin Doyle who turned a shot goalwards. The ball looked like it was about to nestle in the back of the net but for some impressive defending from Matt Kilgallon who cleared off the line, leaving the Irishman unlucky not to find his first Cardiff City goal.
The Bluebirds were turning the screw on their opponents midway into the half and Lee Peltier joined in the act down the right flank. The full back burst into the area but his low drive across the face of the goal was cleared by a resolute Rovers backline.
Cardiff may have felt unfortunate to have not taken the lead when Doyle’s shot was cleared off the line early on but Rovers also had an effort stopped inches from crossing the white line. A Conway free kick was met by the leaping Rudy Gestede who in turn nodded it to strike partner Josh King. This time it was Aron Gunnarsson producing some defensive heroics to prevent an opening goal.
Gary Bowyer’s men continued to look for the head of their lofty strikers but were unable to direct any efforts to challenge Marshall in the City goal.
After absorbing a period of pressure from the Lancashire outfit, Slade’s side looked to create a chance of their own and nearly did through some great work from Scott Malone. The defender beat two men in the centre of midfield and his ball into the back post was cleared just before being met by towering Trinidadian Kenwyne Jones.
Minutes later Jones was once again extremely close to latching onto a City ball but this time Whittingham’s distance pass just evaded him.
As two minutes added on were shown to the Cardiff City Stadium crowd it was a hearts in mouths moment for the home faithful. Gestede charged down a Marshall clearance but the Scotland international reclaimed the ball and averted any danger going into the interval.
HALF TIME: CARDIFF CITY 0-0 BLACKBURN ROVERS
After a promising first half display Cardiff looked to push on further in the second. A Whittingham free kick proved to be the first chance of the second period as his set piece sailed agonisingly over the heads of the onrushing Jones and Sean Morrison with just a minute gone.
Josh King gave the home players something to deal with early in the half as he burst down the left hand side into the box only to be dispossessed at the crucial moment thanks to a last ditch tackle from Morrison. The danger was not completely over as City still had a corner to defend. An in swinging Conway curler had Marshall back peddling but the City skipper gathered convincingly.
Substitution: Blackburn Rovers: Corry Evans replaced Jay Spearing (52 Minutes)
Matt Kennedy proved to be a real live wire in the opening exchanges and he continued this in the second half. Some great feet and trickery from the young Scot allowed him to produce a lofty cross where the waiting Jones headed inches wide of the near post.
Kennedy was in the thick of the action and it was his work that resulted in another corner. Whittingham produced his tradmark in swinger, which Luke Steele could only push away as far as Kennedy who forced a save from the Rovers keeper as he fired back goalwards.
Substitution: Cardiff City: Eoin Doyle replaced by Alex Revell (72 Minutes)
After sustained possession in the Blackburn half the visitors produced a rare attack on 75 minutes. Craig Conway cross found Josh King at the near post who beat Marshall to the ball, but after sticking out a leg could only glance it wide of the far post.
Substitution: Cardiff City: Aron Gunnarsson replaced by Tom Adeyemi (80 Minutes)
Clever work on the by-line from Craig Noone forced a corner late on for the home side and the fans sensed a chance. Peter Whittingham produced a delightful delivery to the back post where Sean Morrison, who had come up for the set piece, rose above the Lancashire defenders to produce a bullet header. There was nothing Jason Steele could do to prevent the powerful header hitting the back of the net and giving Cardiff City a deserved advantage.
GOAL: CARDIFF CITY 1-0 BLACKBURN ROVERS (Sean Morrison, 84 minutes)
Substitution: Blackburn Rovers: Chris Taylor replaced by Chris Brown (88 Minutes)
Despite the late home goal the tie was far from over. Rovers threw men forward looking for a late point. Markus Olsson ghosted past Craig Noone on the left hand side with injury time beckoning. The Swede found in form King who once again had his effort halted on the line, bravely cleared by Scott Malone. But this time the ball didn’t go to safety as Rudy Gestede was ready and waiting to turn the ball home five yards out.
GOAL: CARDIFF CITY 1-1 BLACKBURN ROVERS (Rudy Gestede, 90 minutes)
Substitution: Cardiff City: Scott Malone replaced by Matt Connolly (90 Minutes)
Rovers were handed a late free kick and a chance to produce a winner but the City defence stood firm to keep the scores all square. Gestede's late goal on his return to Cardiff City Stadium ensuring a fortunate point for Gary Bowyer's side.
FULL TIME: CARDIFF CITY 1-1 BLACKBURN ROVERS
Cardiff City: Marshall ©, Peltier, Ecuele Manga, Morrison, Malone (Connolly), Whittingham, Gunnarsson (Adeyemi), Noone, Kennedy, Jones, Doyle (Revell). Subs Not Used: Moore, Ralls, O’Keefe, Harris
Blackburn Rovers: Steele, Henley, Hanley ©, Kilgallon, Olsson, Taylor (Brown), Cairney, Evans (Spearing), Conway, Gestede, King. Subs Not Used: Spurr, Rhodes, Williamson, Duffy
Referee: B. Malone
Attendance: 19,057 (327)