REPORT | BATTLING BLUEBIRDS DEFEATED AT MADEJSKI
Despite a battling performance, City fell to an unfortunate away defeat at promotion chasing Reading on Saturday, 28th January 2017.
STURDY START FROM THE BLUEBIRDS
Following a narrow midweek defeat to Brighton, the Bluebirds produced a similarly solid first-half display at the Madejski Stadium. Having also had a match on Tuesday, the Royals showed no sign of fatigue, dominating possession in the opening periods. The home team enjoyed a few-half chances, mainly produced by Garath McCleary, although Sol Bamba was equal to the Royals’ early efforts.
The first major opportunity fell to that man McCleary, after nineteen minutes. The winger burst into the box before delivering a low cross in the direction of Danny Williams. The midfielder’s touch was poor, with the ball safely collected by Allan McGregor. At the other end, it was Joe Ralls who came closest for the Bluebirds. A free-kick from the right was headed towards the midfielder, who fired a volley from the edge of the box. The low shot crashed against the bottom of the post, and away to safety.
A LIVELY END TO THE HALF
The game clicked into life with five minutes of the first half remaining, as the Royals opened the scoring. Williams’ shot from the edge of the City box was parried by McGregor, falling to McCleary on the right hand side. His exquisite back-heel assist found John Swift in the middle, who slotted into the bottom corner of the Bluebirds net.
However, only two minutes later, Cardiff earned a golden opportunity to equalise from the penalty spot. Former Royal Sean Morrison, attempting to get on the end of a bouncing ball at the back post, was impeded by Liam Moore, with the referee showing no hesitation in pointing to the spot. Joe Ralls stepped up, and accurately dispatched into the bottom left-hand corner, levelling the scores at the break.
ROYALS TAKE THE POINTS
The Bluebirds began the second half well, earning a corner only a few seconds in. The in-swinging delivery was punched clear by Reading goalkeeper Ali Al-Habsi, who was called into action again only moments later to stop Junior Hoilett’s curling effort. However, the hosts re-gained the lead on the hour mark, through striker Yann Kermogant. After Sol Bamba was penalised for a debatable foul on the edge of the area, the French striker stepped up and smashed the free-kick into the bottom left-hand corner.
The Bluebirds went on the front foot, and almost drew level six minutes later. Another effort from Hoilett, this time a free-kick, was clawed over the bar by the fingertips of Al-Habsi. Chances continued to come for City, with multiple set pieces in the Reading half. One of which, a corner, was nearly diverted into his own net by Kermogant, whose blushes were saved by Al-Habsi.
A final Cardiff chance was created by Rhys Healey, on his full City debut. In injury time, he collected a high ball in the box, evaded two Reading defenders and agonizingly blasted over. The excellent away following gave the battling Bluebirds a standing ovation at the final whistle, with a home match against Preston up next on Tuesday.
FINAL SCORE: READING 2-1 CARDIFF CITY
Reading: Al-Habsi, Gunter, McShane, Moore, Van den Berg (Blackett ’41), Kelly, Williams, Swift (Evans ’55), Beerens (Obita ’76), McCleary, Kermogant. Subs not used: Jaakkola, Meite, Samuel, Mendes.
Cardiff City: McGregor, Peltier, Morrison, Bamba, Richards, Halford (Kennedy ’76), Gunnarsson, Ralls (Whittingham ’89), Hoilett, Healey, Zohore (K.Harris ’66). Subs not used: Murphy, Connolly, John, Noone.