Overall it was comfortable evening in the Welsh capital as Cardiff City defeated Colchester United 3-1 in the third round of the FA Cup. City took the lead just after the half hour mark when a Joe Ralls strike combined with two deflections and a huge slice of fortune put the home side ahead.
After the break Russell Slade’s squad built on the first half lead as Kadeem Harris showed great agility and control to place a hooked volley into the bottom corner. Kenwyne Jones then added himself to the score sheet with his very first touch cushioning a header past Sam Walker in the Colchester United goal. Freddie Sears gave the hosts a nervous final twenty when he pulled one back for the visitors but Cardiff held on and ensured their name will be in the hat for the fourth round draw.
It was the visitors who had the first chance of the match seven minutes in when the quick feet of Freddie Sears resulted in Matt Connolly fouling the former West Ham man on the edge of the area. Sears then stepped up to take the set piece 18 yards out but City stopper, Simon Moore, easily gathered it.
Ralls provided the Bluebirds with their first shot on target with 12 minutes on the clock. He fired a shot from 25 yards out and Sam Walker had to be alert in the Colchester goal, parrying the ball to safety diving low to his right hand side.
With 20 minutes of the game gone it was the U’s creating the better chances. Kaspars Gorkss rose highest from a corner but could only watch his header drift narrowly wide of the near post.
Half hour into the tie Declan John made a jinking run through the heart of the United midfield and his deflected shot gave Cardiff a corner. The ever present Peter Whittingham produced an in swinging delivery and left Walker stranded as he his cross sailed over his head and struck the crossbar, inches away from giving Russell Slade’s men the lead.
This was the catalyst for the Bluebirds to increase the pressure and just minutes later City were given a free kick on the left edge of the penalty area. Whittingham drilled in a low delivery and it was another corner to the home side. The corner was whipped in but could be cleared to Joe Ralls who was waiting outside the area. He struck a powerful shot from 30 yards which cannoned firstly off Kaspars Gorkss and then Cole Kpekawa and left Walker completely wrong footed as the ball flew into the United net.
GOAL: CARDIFF CITY 1-0 COLCHESTER UNITED (Ralls, 34 minutes)
City were not about to settle on the slender lead as Tom Adeyemi went close soon after with Walker once again called into action. Colchester were certainly not going to go down without a fight and Gavin Massey almost gave the Essex side a quick equaliser. A fine reaction save from Moore ensured Cardiff remained a goal in front at the interval.
HALF TIME: CARDIFF CITY 1-0 COLCHESTER UNITED
Much like the first half, the first chance fell to Tony Humes’ team after receiving a free kick on the edge of the box, this time Ben Turner fouling Elliott Hewitt. The City defence comfortably dealt with the resultant free kick.
Cardiff soon returned to offence, restricting Colchester into putting the ball out for another corner. Once again Whittingham stepped up and his out swinging cross found the head of a stretching Ben Turner. The captain’s header looped up and was latched onto by Kadeem Harris who acrobatically produced a wonderful hooked volley into the bottom corner of the net, doubling City’s lead.
GOAL: CARDIFF CITY 2-0 COLCHESTER UNITED (Harris, 53 minutes)
Substitution: Cardiff City: Macheda replaced by Jones (60 minutes)
The hour mark saw Slade make his first substitution of the evening with Kenwyne Jones entering the fray. Within seconds of coming on Cardiff had another corner. Whittingham sent a searching cross to the near post and with his very first touch Jones nodded it home from point blank range, glancing the ball into the far corner.
GOAL: CARDIFF CITY 3-0 COLCHESTER UNITED (Jones, 61 minutes)
Substitution: Colchester United: Massey replaced by Watt (61 Minutes)
Substitution: Colchester United: Moncur replaced by Lapslie (64 Minutes)
The Bluebirds were now in complete control of the tie and were searching for a fourth. Craig Noone nicked the ball away from United's midfielders and made way towards the goal. As he reached the edge of the penalty box he unleashed a powerful low shot, which was blocked by an alert Sam Walker.
Substitution: Cardiff City: Whittingham replaced by Le Fondre (69 minutes)
City seemed to be coasting with less than 20 minutes left of the tie, seemingly camped in the opposition half. Colchester finally got hold of the ball and broke quickly. Some neat interchange play from the U’s midfield allowed Sears acres of space on the edge of the Bluebirds’ area and his strong strike brought the visitors back within two, despite Moore getting a hand to the shot.
GOAL: CARDIFF CITY 3-1 COLCHESTER UNITED (Sears, 73 minutes)
With thoughts of a comeback on the minds of the men in yellow they started to commit more men forward. Despite the increased intensity they created very little to threaten former Brentford man Moore.
Substitution: Colchester United: Hewitt replaced by Sembie-Ferris (85 Minutes)
Substitution: Cardiff City: Noone replaced by Fabio (85 minutes)
With the last throw of the dice Humes made his final change with Sembie-Ferris coming on for his professional debut and he immediately proved to be a nuisance. First he was denied a chance of a shot from inside the box by a last ditch Turner tackle. Then, just moments later he was prevented from scoring United’s second as a resilient Connolly cleared the ball off the line and then a sprawling Moore ensured the ball was dealt with safely.
City survived injury time with little problems and Russell Slade and Cardiff City march into the next round of the FA Cup.
FULL TIME: CARDIFF CITY 3-1 COLCHESTER UNITED
Cardiff City: Moore, Brayford, Turner ©, Connolly, John, Whittingham (le Fondre), Adeyemi, Ralls, Harris, Noone (Fabio), Macheda (Jones). Subs Not Used: Wilson, Ecuele Manga, Morrison, Kim.
Colchester United: Walker, Clohessy, Gorkss, Eastman, Kpekawa, Fox ©, Moncur (Lapslie), Szmodics, Hewitt (Sembie-Ferris), Sears, Massey (Watt). Subs Not Used: Lewington, Eastmond, Bonne, Young
Referee: J. Linington