The Bluebirds opened their 2018-19 pre-season campaign with a comfortable 6-0 victory over South West Peninsula League Premier Division club, Tavistock AFC.
A full-strength side took to the field on Monday evening, with Sol Bamba and Aron Gunnarsson the only senior professionals rested. Kenneth Zohore had been given a leave of absence following the birth of his child over the weekend.
The fixture began in a similar fashion to the meeting between the two sides 12 months prior, with City registering in the opening exchanges. Good work down the left, that involved debutant Greg Cunningham, ended with ‘keeper Oak palming the ball into the path of Junior Hoillett who was able to tap home left-footed with ease inside 60 seconds.
Tavistock looked to open up and take the game to their opponents, though their endeavours were snuffed out, in the main, at source. In the ninth minute, City were two to the good; a move begun by Joe Ralls was finished by the midfielder, who was quick to follow up his initial header after it had been well saved by Oak. Hoilett, this time, would be credited for a fine cross in the build-up.
There was to be no let-up and, in the 23rd minute, Gary Madine registered his first goal in Cardiff City colours. Hoilett, Ralls and Callum Paterson had all come close in the minutes prior, before the big striker found space and time on the edge of the area to fire home from 20 yards out into the bottom of the Tavistock net.
It was 4-0 two minutes later and, this time, it came as the result of some fine link-up play between two new signings. Cunningham linked nicely with Hoilett on the left-hand touchline, before powering forward towards the corner quadrant. The left-back put in an excellent left footed cross that wasn’t dealt with by a floundering home defence, allowing Bobby Reid to control the ball before firing home on the half volley.
No sooner was it four it became five, Madine rising at the near-post to direct a looping header home past Oak for his second of the evening. The flow was stemmed somewhat from the half hour mark into the interval, though with the score at 5-0 come the sound of the Referee’s whistle, a suggestion of any sort of Tavistock revival was effectively quashed.
Unsurprisingly, the tempo of the game dropped in the second half: City were still comfortable in the possession that they dominated but lacked the merciless precision and penetration that they had dished out in the first.
On the hour mark, Neil Warnock made seven personnel changes with Peltier, Morrison, Cunningham, Hoilett, Murphy, Reid and Madine being replaced by Richards, Connolly, Bennett, Damour, Harris, Mendez-Laing and Ward.
Indeed, it was Danny Ward who got the scoring back underway in the 69th minute of the game. The striker, making his first appearance for 2018 following a season-ending injury that came against Norwich City back in December, was able to volley home-side footed inside the area following a pin-point cross from fellow substitute Nathaniel Mendez-Laing.
There were further chances in the game for Harris, Damour and Bennett, although goalkeeper Oak was applauded by those in attendance at Langsford Park for making some start stops in the face of adversity.
Ultimately, though, it was the travelling supporters who left with the biggest smiles on their faces, with a trip to Bodmin, on Wednesday, next on the agenda for the first-team party stationed in the South-West of England.
Highlights and reaction to follow on Cardiff City TV…
Tavistock AFC: Oak; Davies, Evans, Daw, Robins, Caffio, Hallett, Shanley, T. Burns, Elliott, Coombes. Subs: Prynn, C. Burns, Afet, Toujans, Craigo, Clifton, Gosling, Williams.
Cardiff City FC: Etheridge; Peltier, Morrison ©, Ecuele Manga, Cunningham; Paterson, Ralls; Reid; Hoilett, J. Murphy; Madine. Subs: Smithies, B. Murphy; Richards, Bennett, Connolly; Damour, Harris, Mendez-Laing; Ward.