Carabao Cup | Cardiff City 3-2 Sutton United
Marley Watkins scored a brace on his Cardiff City debut as the Bluebirds defeated Sutton United in the First Round of the Carabao Cup.
City boss Mick McCarthy made a number of changes to the side which faced Barnsley last time out, with Watkins making his debut after signing a short-term deal at Cardiff City Stadium, Sean Morrison returning to the heart of defence, and young left-back Tom Davies earning his competitive First Team debut.
Enjoying their maiden fixture in the competition, League Two newcomers Sutton took an early lead in the Welsh capital, with a well-worked counter attacking move. From a City corner, the U’s broke down the right flank, with David Ajiboye advancing into the penalty area. The winger played a low ball across the box which was met by Donovan Wilson, with the forward able to tuck the ball past Alex Smithies to give the visitors the lead.
Fresh from lifting the National League title at the end of last season, the hosts continued to create chances throughout the opening 30 minutes, with Kieffer Moore and Curtis Nelson providing blocks inside the City area to deny Sutton a second. Bluebirds stopper Smithies was also in the thick of the action, producing a fine diving save to prevent Kenny Davis from doubling the visitors’ lead.
After Welsh international Moore had fired City’s first real opportunity over the crossbar, it was fellow Welsh striker Watkins who pulled the Bluebirds back onto level terms. The recent recruit picked up the ball inside the United box and instinctively fired a shot on goal. Sutton stopper Dean Bouzanis got his hands to Watkins effort but was unable to keep the ball from hitting the back of the net, sending the sides in at the interval with the scores level.
McCarthy’s men were much improved after the restart, and took the lead five minutes into the second period. Mark Harris drove at the Sutton defence before shooting on goal, with his effort being blocked by a U’s defender. However, the ball deflected kindly to the feet of Watkins, who fired into the bottom corner from the edge of the penalty area to turn the game on its head.
The Bluebirds continued to grow into the game, with the introduction of Josh Murphy and Rubin Colwill adding pace and power to the City attack. At the other end, Omar Bugiel went down under pressure inside the area, with the referee waving away penalty protests from the visiting players and supporters.
With six minutes of the 90 remaining, Murphy added what proved to be the decisive goal of the contest, showing his speed before finding the back of the net. Young debutant Davies played an excellent long pass down the left wing, with Murphy bursting forward to latch onto the ball. The winger cut inside, and, with the aid of a deflection, fired into the back of the net, giving the Bluebirds breathing space going into the final few minutes.
That goal indeed proved to be crucial, as Sutton scored a second goal moments before the announcement of injury time. Matt Gray’s side kept the ball alive from a corner kick, with players from both sides unable to make a clean connection. Coby Rowe finally managed to turn the ball on goal, with his effort from close-range managing to sneak past Smithies and into the back of the net.
With Sutton chasing an equaliser, City continued to hit the fourth-tier side on the counter attack, and nearly added a fourth thanks to some quick thinking from Murphy. Having been fouled near the corner flag, the winger played a quick ball along the touchline to Colwill, who bore down on goal with the Sutton stopper unaware that play had restart. After drawing the defender, the young Welsh midfielder found James Collins with a pulled-back pass, though the forward was unable to get his shot on target.
The full-time whistle signalled the conclusion of an exciting cup contest, with the Bluebirds advancing to the Second Round – the draw for which will be made on Wednesday, August 11th. McCarthy’s side are back in action on Saturday, August 14th, travelling to Blackpool for our first away fixture of the Championship season.
Full Time: Cardiff City 3-2 Sutton United
Cardiff City: Smithies, Sang, Morrison, Flint, Nelson, T. Davies, Wintle, Vaulks, Watkins (Colwill 78’), Harris (Murphy 78’), Moore (Collins 86’).
Subs not used: Phillips, Ng, Bowen, Pack.
Sutton United: Bouzanis, Barden, Goodliffe, Rowe, Eastmond, Milsom, Beautyman, Davis (Smith 85’), Ajiboye, Wilson (Boldewijn 77’), Bugiel (Bennett 80’).
Subs not used: House, John, Kizzi, Korboa.