Cardiff City celebrated their return to blue in winning style as Sean Morrison’s first-half goal saw off Fulham by a goal to nil at Cardiff City Stadium.
Morrison flicked an Aron Gunnarsson long-throw over the line to hand the Bluebirds the advantage after fourteen minutes, and despite an intense period of pressure from Kit Symons’ visitors at the end of the second half, the Bluebirds were resolute enough to begin their 2015 Sky Bet Championship fixtures with a win.
A rocking Cardiff City Stadium, buoyed by the confirmation that the game was going ahead thanks to some fantastic efforts from fire crews and Club officials in ensuring the safety of the Canton and Ninian stands after heavy winds overnight, welcomed their home side for a fantastic occasion as Fulham visited the Welsh capital.
Russell Slade’s men took to the field clad in blue following a successful midweek fan consultation that resulted in Club Owner Tan Sri Vincent Tan announcing a return to a blue home strip on Friday. The home fans responded to this news in kind with rapturous support throughout.
Russell Slade’s side were without first-choice goalkeeper David Marshall, who missed out due to a minor injury concern, with Simon Moore taking his place for a first league appearance in a Cardiff City shirt. There were five other changes to last week’s side which saw off Colchester, with Kenwyne Jones, Adam Le Fondre, Aron Gunnarsson and Sean Morrison all returning to the side, and Scott Malone, signed from Millwall in the week, making his debut for the Club at left-back. Fellow new addition Alex Revell started on the bench, having completed his switch from Rotherham United on Friday.
Fulham manager Kit Symons made just the one change to the side which drew 0-0 with Wolverhampton Wanderers in the FA Cup last weekend, with Ryan Tunnicliffe replacing the injured Lasse Vigen Christensen. Swedish striker Alex Kačaniklić made the bench for the first time since being recalled from his loan spell with FC Copenhagen, while Ryan Tunnicliffe went straight in to the starting eleven after the completion of his temporary stay with Blackburn Rovers. Former England international Scott Parker and forward Cauley Woodrow were the only members of the Fulham squad who also started the Premier League equivalent of this fixture last season.
Fulham’s Shaun Hutchinson incensed an already-booming crowd when he flattened Adam Le Fondre after the Bluebirds striker had knocked the ball beyond him on the halfway line. He received an early first booking of the match from referee Nigel Miller. Le Fondre was in the thick of the action in the early exchanges, soon being penalised for a foul on visiting goalkeeper Marcus Bettinelli when challenging for a menacing Peter Whittingham free-kick. His former Reading teammate Sean Morrison headed Aron Gunnarsson’s throw-in over the bar on twelve minutes.
The Iceland captain’s next long-throw resulted in the Bluebirds’ breakthrough. Morrison got his head to it again, and the ball crossed the line before a Fulham defender’s attempt to hook it clear. Peter Whittingham made sure from the rebound, but Morrison claimed his fifth goal for Cardiff this season.
GOAL: CARDIFF CITY 1-0 FULHAM (S. Morrison 14’)
Big Ben Turner took a third Gunnarsson throw in his stride before displaying some quick feet for a centre-back before the Fulham defence got a block to his goal-bound shot. Fulham were at panic stations with Gunnarsson’s throws becoming a theme of the opening forty-five minutes: from throw number four, Le Fondre’s left-footed shot was blocked this time, before Sean Morrison’s side-footed effort was deflected out off the line for a corner, from which Le Fondre’s attempted overhead kick went over the bar.
Fulham’s Jack Grimmer had to be strong to deny Kenwyne Jones a chance to head the Bluebirds’ second on twenty-five minutes, and Gunnarsson the fifth edition in the series of long-throws led to yet more pandemonium in the Cottagers’ defensive ranks. Brilliant work from Jones to turn his marker in the middle of the park allowed Le Fondre an effort which was comfortable in the end for Bettinelli.
Former Bluebirds striker Ross McCormack came close to a leveller when found the roof of the net on the swivel, but the Bluebirds were good for their lead at the break.
HALF-TIME: CARDIFF CITY 1-0 FULHAM
Alex Revell came on for the second half to make his Bluebirds debut, with Kenwyne Jones the man replaced after sustaining a hip problem in the first period. Goalscorer Sean Morrison headed a Whittingham corner over the bar early in the half before John Brayford had an effort go wide.
Ross McCormack’s free-kick was saved with no great trouble by Simon Moore as the game reached the hour-mark, and when Cardiff broke moments later, Peter Whittingham’s sweet cross was knocked down before being drilled wide by Brayford.
In a double-substitution for Fulham, Cauley Woodrow was replaced by Alex Kačaniklić, while Irish defender Sean Kavanagh replaced Seko Fofana, the man on loan from Manchester City on 61 minutes. Craig Noone had an effort blocked, before the third Fulham switch; Moussa Dembélé replacing Hugo Rodallega.
Adam Le Fondre side-footed Tom Adeyemi’s cross wide, before Scott Malone received his round of applause for his debut performance as he was replaced by Declan John. A duo of headers from Alex Revell were followed by a layoff to Peter Whittingham, who found the side-netting with five minutes to go.
Cardiff made their final change as Le Fondre made way for Kadeem Harris for the three added minutes, but Fulham, despite their pressure, could not mount an effort to test Simon Moore. The Bluebirds keeper earned a clean sheet on his league debut for the Club, and ensured that the three points went to Cardiff.
This win, City’s first in six Championship fixtures, means the Bluebirds are now unbeaten in their last four matches against Fulham, also having won three of those clashes.
FULL-TIME: CARDIFF CITY 1-0 FULHAM
Cardiff City: Moore, Brayford, Malone (John 81’), Turner ©, Whittingham, Jones (Revell 46’), Le Fondre (Harris 90+1’), Noone, Gunnarsson, Adeyemi, Morrison. Subs Not Used: Wilson, Connolly, Kim, Ralls.
Goal: S. Morrison 14’
Fulham: Bettinelli, Grimmer, Bodurov, Hutchinson, Stafylidis, Parker, Tunnicliffe, Fofana (Kavanagh 61’), McCormack, Woodrow (Kačaniklić 61’), Rodallega (Dembélé 73’). Subs Not Used: Király, Roberts, Williams, Burn.
Referee: Mr. Nigel Miller
Attendance: 22,515 (672 away)