Cardiff City and promotion candidates AFC Bournemouth fought to a 1-1 draw at Cardiff City Stadium.
The Club were proud to honour the lives of Corey Price, Rhodri Miller, Alesha O’Connor and Margaret Challis before kick-off with an impeccably observed minutes silence.
It was the visiting Cherries with the first chance of the game thanks to a brilliant run from Marc Pugh. After Cardiff lost the ball in the centre of the field, Pugh drove to the edge of the area and released a powerful strike which cannoned off the crossbar. The former Hereford man then collected his own shot but much to the relief of the home support, could only put the second attempt wide of the right post.
The Bluebirds didn’t take long to reply with a chance of their own. Craig Noone capitalised on Alex Revell’s knock down to get City’s first strike on target from just outside the 18-yard box. Experienced goalkeeper Artur Boruc deflecting the ball to safety. Cardiff continued to press and Alex Revell, high on confidence, produced an audacious half volley on the turn but Boruc was once again there to prevent the opening goal.
After surviving a spell of pressure from the hosts, Bournemouth pushed further up field. Harry Arter now took his turn in trying a shot from distance but unlike the earlier strikes he gained a successful end result. His unstoppable left footed strike, hit from the right corner of the area, flew past the diving Simon Moore into the top left corner of the net and sent league leaders Bournemouth into the lead with 16 minutes on the clock.
After finding the opener Eddie Howe’s men were not ready to settle on the slender lead and continued to press. With the Cherries continuing to push, Kenwyne Jones managed intercept the ball and provide it to Craig Noone on the left wing. Noone then slotted a low cross into the feet of Revell but the former Rotherham front man could only direct the ball over the bar.
Knocking on the door
The 25 minutes that followed the goal went by with neither team gaining a foothold but with five minutes until the break Slade’s men were closing in on a leveller. First Bruno Ecuele Manga had his headed effort parried away by the Cherries’ stopper and soon after Craig Noone was once again in the thick of the action when his left footed curler hit the stanchion behind the net as his shot narrowly missed the target.
City were not done there as Simon Francis somehow managed to divert Alex Revell’s low delivery wide of the target while facing his own net. To round off a period of Cardiff chances Manga once again rose highest but this time his header was just too powerful and could not dip in time to test Boruc.
Like the first half it was Howe’s men who created the first opportunity. Callum Wilson beat the offside trap to get to the by-line and his low drive was cleared by Fabio just in time as Matt Ritchie would have been left with a simple tap in to double the Cherries advantage. The chance spurred City into action and Kenwyne Jones had his header saved from another Craig Noone cross. The chance had been created from a strong run from Alex Revell down the right wing.
Bluebirds bounce back
A combination of the post, a Simon Moore glove and a last ditch prod from Manga denied the Cherries increasing the lead on 55 minutes and City were once again keen to hit back. Matthew Kennedy turned defence to attack with a pass to unlock Noone down the wing. The former Brighton speedster produced a fine run and ball to find Gunnarsson waiting on the edge of the area but the Iceman’s effort was gathered safely.
City were turning the screw and some offensive pressure resulted in a Whittingham corner. Manga had been causing problems all game from set pieces and this time the Gabon international made no mistake as he powered his header home. Polish international Boruc could only watch it rocket past him as Cardiff had pegged back Howe’s high flyers.
A bizarre set of circumstances ensued with twenty minutes remaining as Simon Moore’s kick smashed into the back of Callum Wilson. The ball looped over the head of the City stopper and hit the bar. Wilson duly regained the ball and tapped home only to turn around and see Lee Mason had disallowed it. The Bournemouth attacker also received a yellow card for his troubles.
Both teams were battling to gain the upper hand throughout the half but neither could create any clear-cut opportunities.
A Manga miscued back pass had Moore sprinting towards his own goal with little more than five minutes remaining and had produced a hearts in mouths moment for the home supporters. Luckily for the Bluebirds faithful Moore won the foot race with Wilson and cleared to safety.
Both teams were pushing for the decisive winning goal with time running out with chances for created on either side. Bournemouth watched a Steve Cook header from close range go just too high while in injury time City had a fierce Whittingham volley blocked and a Doyle drive deflected away from goal.
The best chance to win it came with the last touch of the tie. Cherries top scorer Wilson thought he had won it but his glancing header failed to test Moore. While a winning goal would have delighted the travelling away support, it would have been harsh on the Bluebirds who were more than good value for a point.
FINAL SCORE: CARDIFF CITY 1-1 AFC BOURNEMOUTH (Ecuele Manga, 62; Arter, 16)
Cardiff City: Moore, Fabio, Ecuele Manga, Morrison, Connolly, Whittingham, Gunnarsson © (Adeyemi), Noone, Kennedy (Ralls), Jones (Doyle), Revell. Subs Not Used: Wilson, Malone, Gabbidon, O’Keefe.
AFC Bournemouth: Boruc, Francis, Elphick ©, Cook, Daniels, Ritchie (Smith), Arter, Surman, Pugh, Pitman (Kermorgant), Wilson. Subs Not Used: Camp, Ward, MacDonald, Fraser, Rantie.
Referee: Lee Mason
Attendance: 19,819 (923 Away)