Robert Earnshaw, Graham Kavanagh

City Flashback - 2003 | Bluebirds beat Bristol to reach Play-Off Final


As the Bluebirds prepare to travel to Bristol City on Saturday, we take a look back at a famous victory over the Robins in 2003.

In a fantastic campaign under Lennie Lawrence, City secured a Play-Off spot on the final day of the season with a 1-1 draw at Crewe Alexandra.

Having accumulated 81 points, the Bluebirds finished sixth in the Division Two table, earning a Play-Off Semi-Final tie against third-place Bristol City.

A fantastic atmosphere greeted both sides as they entered the pitch for the opening leg at Ninian Park, with a crowd of 19,146 in attendance.

Lawrence’s men stepped up to the occasion admirably, with a memorable second-half header from Peter Thorne giving the Bluebirds a valuable lead.

Peter Thorne

City goalkeeper Neil Alexander was fantastic between the sticks, making a number of saves to guarantee a clean sheet.

Bluebirds striker Robert Earnshaw went close to doubling the lead and giving City control of the tie ten minutes from time, but Robins goalkeeper Steve Phillips pulled off a fine save to keep the score at 1-0.

The 2002/03 campaign was a career highlight for Earnshaw, who broke the 56-year record of 30 league goals held by Stan Richards, as well as the record of Hughie Ferguson of 32 goals in all competitions.

In the second-leg at Ashton Gate three days later, City put in an unbelievable defensive performance to book a place in the Play-off Final.

Alexander was fantastic once again, as the visitors threw everything to find an equalising goal, only for a strong Bluebirds defence - which contained Rhys Weston, Danny Gabbidon, Chris Barker and Spencer Prior - to come out on top.

The final whistle brought the game to a close at 0-0, with City emerging victorious on aggregate and advancing to the Final, which was to be held in the Welsh capital.

Lawrence’s side went on to face Queens Park Rangers in the Final at the Millennium Stadium, with the R's having seen off Oldham Athletic in the other set of Semi-Final fixtures.

In front of 66,096 supporters, Andy Campbell’s iconic lob in extra-time was enough to secure a narrow 1-0 victory and clinch promotion to the second tier.

As we face Bristol City once more this weekend, the Play-Off tie in the 2002/03 campaign was a memorable part of a promotion-winning season.