Match Report | Sheffield Wednesday 1-2 Cardiff City
Cardiff City closed out the decade in style, securing a 2-1 victory at Hillsborough in their final match of 2019.
Neil Harris made a single change to the starting line-up from City's Boxing Day draw against Millwall, with Jazz Richards starting in place of Lee Peltier, who had been withdrawn against the Lions at CCS three days ago.
After just five minutes, the Bluebirds took the lead through Robert Glatzel. Junior Hoilett was fouled inside the Wednesday half, with Lee Tomlin instantly grabbing the ball. Instinctively, the playmaker delivered a quick free-kick towards the box, which found Glatzel in space. With work to do, City's number nine did brilliantly to bring the ball down, beat his man and finish superbly.
Within three minutes, City's lightning start continued as the advantage was doubled by Junior Hoilett. The Bluebirds moved the ball well, with Jazz Richards and Glatzel involved. A deft ball over the top released Tomlin, who, onside, kept his composure to pick the right pass. Hoilett held his run inside the area, and neatly tucked the ball into the bottom corner.
The hosts responded well, and almost scored after 12 minutes. Sam Winnall found himself free inside the area, but the striker was denied by Jazz Richards’ heroic block. From the rebound, Barry Bannan’s drive was destined for the top corner, however Neil Etheridge produced a fine save to keep out the Scotland international.
The Owls did pull one back six minutes later, with captain Tom Lees on target. From a corner, the centre-half headed through a sea of bodies to find the back of the net, halving the deficit for Wednesday. After the match settled down, City were forced to make two substitutes, as Joe Bennett and Nathaniel Mendez-Laing suffered injuries in quick succession – Will Vaulks and Sol Bamba were introduced.
As play resumed, Wednesday went close to an equaliser after some penalty-box pinball. Three Owls’ shots were blocked from close range, with Aden Flint and Leandro Bacuna defending well. However, the Bluebirds held firm until the break, taking the lead into the interval.
The second half started at a slower pace than the first, with few clear chances for either side until the hour mark. On the counter, Leandro Bacuna delivered two dangerous crosses; the first was blocked, whilst the second found Vaulks, who struck wide of goal. The midfielder broke forward again soon afterwards, but fired over the crossbar from range.
Whilst Wednesday enjoyed the lions’ share of possession, the Bluebirds looked dangerous on the counter attack. With fifteen minutes remaining, another drive forward from Bacuna set up a good opportunity. Filling in at right-back, the Curaçao international’s cross found its way to Marlon Pack, whose low drive whistled narrowly wide of the post.
As the Owls pushed for a leveller, City held firm, repelling waves of attacks. Neil Harris’ men continued to break at speed, with the introduction of Callum Paterson offering another outlet on the counter. Paterson and Glatzel combined to win a free-kick, which was powerfully struck by Vaulks – goalkeeper Cameron Dawson did well to keep hold of the ball.
After seven minutes of stoppage time, during which Sol Bamba and Aden Flint continued to clear every Wednesday attack, the referee finally signalled the end of the game, securing a hard-fought but deserved victory for the Bluebirds.
After finishing the decade with a win, City will next be in action on January 1st, 2020 – heading to West London to face Queens Park Rangers on Wednesday.
Full-time: Sheffield Wednesday 1-2 Cardiff City
Cardiff City: Etheridge, Richards, Nelson, Flint, Bennett (Vaulks 36’), Pack, Bacuna, Tomlin (Paterson 83’), Hoilett, Mendez-Laing (Bamba 42’), Glatzel.
Subs not used: Smithies, Josh Murphy, Ward, Madine.
Sheffield Wednesday: Dawson, Palmer (Börner 63’), Lees, Hutchinson, Iorfa (Rhodes 58’), Fox, Bannan, Reach, Harris, Jacob Murphy (Nuhui 79’), Winnall.
Subs not used: Wildsmith, Odubajo, Lee, Pelupessy.