Days Gone By | Cardiff City vs. Leeds United
There won’t be a shortage of opportunity to re-visit that 2002 game when you flick through the pages of Sunday’s matchday programme or scroll through the social media channels that are taking a welcome trip down memory lane.
It’s also interesting to look at what became of the subsequent occasions that the two sides met between then and now. Prior to Scott Young and co.’s vanquishing of the Premier League (then-Premiership) leaders 21 years ago to this very weekend, the two teams hadn’t met in any competition since a 1-1 draw in December 1984, but that all changed quite quickly.
By virtue of a largely upward trajectory for Cardiff City and a predominantly downward trajectory for the Whites, the two clubs have played each other on 22 occasions since the third round FA Cup tie of 2002. In total, City have tasted victory an incredible 14 times during this modern era, drawing on five occasions and losing just three times.
There’s a reason that Leeds don’t like facing the Bluebirds and this staggering record is it. Here are some Bluebirds highlights against Leeds from the past two decades…
The Rot Sets In
City returned to the Championship in 2003 and a season later, the mighty Leeds United were relegated from the top-flight. The 2004/05 season wasn’t kind to City, but any hopes Leeds had of avenging their shock 2002 Cup defeat in South Wales were extinguished by virtue of 0-0 stalemate in October 2004 at Ninian Park and a 1-1 draw at Elland Road the coming January, courtesy of Peter Thorne’s equaliser from the penalty spot.
In essence, these two draws began to further set in the rot that had begun for Leeds at Ninian Park in 2002. The next season (2005/06), City would win home and away against the Yorkshire side: a 2-1 victory at Ninian Park courtesy of Jason Koumas and Darren Purse, followed up with a famous 1-0 win at Elland Road later in the season, Koumas again on the scoresheet.
Leeds would not defeat Cardiff City in any of the subsequent 10 League matches that the two sides faced each other in up until 2015, totalling an unbeaten competitive Bluebirds run of 15 games.
Back in Black
Amidst the run of un-touched City success was a famous 4-0 win for Dave Jones’ Bluebirds at Elland Road in October 2010, adorned in a well-liked all black strip that paid homage to the FA Cup run of 2008.
City should have secured promotion to the top-flight this season, only for poor form towards the tail end of the campaign to deny them for a little longer. On this occasion, goals from Jay Bothroyd (2), Michael Chopra and Lee Naylor (great quiz question regarding the latter’s belter of a fourth goal, this one) secured an emphatic result for a side that also purred with the talent of Craig Bellamy and Peter Whittingham. Bellamy would go on to score in the return fixture later that season: a 2-1 win at Cardiff City Stadium.
And it wouldn’t be the last time that Cardiff City would put four past Leeds on home soil. Neil Warnock’s Bluebirds did just that in a 4-1 victory in February 2018 as they marched on towards Premier League promotion: Callum Paterson, Junior Hoilett, Sean Morrison and Anthony Pilkington the scorers that day.
Leeds landed a couple of punches on City during the 2015/16 season, seeing off the Bluebirds by a goal to nil at Elland Road and then winning 2-0 at Cardiff City Stadium: their first win against City in the Welsh Capital since February 1984. The next year, they made it three on the bounce with another 2-0 win in Cardiff. The curse had been broken, surely?
Well, seemingly, it hasn’t been entirely expunged. City won the return fixture at Elland Road in February 2017 by the same scoreline and have remained unbeaten in the subsequent four fixtures that the two sides have met. It was back to back wins during the 2017/18 Premier League promotion season (including the aforementioned 4-1 rout at Elland Road) and then a draw and victory for City during the 2019/20 season, the year in which Leeds were promoted back to the top-flight.
It's worth reflecting on those two games in 2019/20 before we finish. The first, at Elland Road, was the game in which City came back from 3-0 down after 52 minutes to draw 3-3 (remember Lee Tomlin’s exquisite chip to get things underway prior to his otherworldly back-heel to send Robert Glatzel in for the equaliser); the second was the 2-0 City win at Cardiff City Stadium in June 2020: the first fixture played behind closed doors following the return to play procedure put in place to finish the 2019/20 season amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.