City Flashback - 2007 | Chopra nets Ninian brace against North End
With the Bluebirds welcoming Preston North End to Cardiff City Stadium on Saturday afternoon, we look back at a memorable performance against the Lilywhites in 2007.
City went into the contest on the back of a positive start to the month of February, securing a dominant 2-0 victory over Barnsley and a convincing 1-0 win over Leeds United.
The Lilywhites had also enjoyed an encouraging start to the new calendar year, winning four of their first seven league fixtures of 2007, and, having suffered a narrow defeat to Leeds United in the Play-Off Semi-Final at the end of the previous campaign, remained hopeful of promotion this time around.
After an opening 40 minutes with little goalmouth action, the 12,889 fans in attendance were treated to a City opener in the final few minutes of the first half.
Peter Whittingham broke the deadlock in the 44th minute, with the midfielder meeting Paul Parry’s cross from the right-hand side, and firing into the back of the net for his third goal in City colours.
The Bluebirds started the second period the way they ended the first, and doubled their lead in the 52nd minute. Michael Chopra was brought down inside the box and gave referee Trevor Kettle no option but to point to the spot.
Chopra stepped up to comfortably dispatch his spot kick to strengthen the Bluebird’s lead – a goal which kick-started a frantic passage of play, with his strike being the first of three in as many minutes.
Paul Simpson’s side were able to pull one back immediately, with a penalty of their own just a minute later. After a long ball caught out the City defence, Roger Johnson was adjudged to have brought down Neil Mellor inside the area.
From the resulting spot kick, Graham Alexander was on hand to fire past David Forde to give the Lilywhites a lifeline in the game.
In a dramatic period with goals galore, City regained their two-goal advantage straight from the restart. Whittingham's quickly taken free-kick found the on-running Johnson at the back post, who guided his header brilliantly past Andy Lonergan.
After an eventful second half, Dave Jones’ side continued to step it up a gear in the second period, adding a fourth goal in the 67th minute via Chopra.
The City striker secured his brace with great composure, finding the bottom corner after some individual brilliance from Whittingham. Chops' second strike of the game increased his goalscoring tally for the campaign to 21.
The drama continued right to the very end, but it was the Bluebirds who secured a fine 4-1 victory at Ninian Park, a win that moved City back up into the Play-Off places.
It was a memorable campaign for Chopra in particular, who was the club’s top scorer with a remarkable 22 goals in 42 appearances in all competitions, including a notable hat-trick in a dramatic 3-2 victory over Leicester City.
His form earned him a place in the PFA Championship Team of the Season and a move to Premier League side Sunderland, where he would go on to score the winner on his debut for the Black Cats in a 1-0 victory over Tottenham Hotspur.
Despite their strong start to the campaign, the 2006/07 season ended with the Bluebirds in 13th position. In a season of transition, City would go on to have a memorable campaign the following year, reaching the FA Cup Final.