- English Football League - Championship
- Saturday, July 4th 2020
- Ashton Gate
James Crawley reports from Ashton Gate
Report: Bristol City 0-1 Cardiff City
Saturday, July 4th 2020
Danny Ward’s late second-half goal was enough to secure Cardiff City the Severnside derby win at Ashton Gate and deal a blow to City’s top-six hopes.
Some would argue the goal was against the run of play with the hosts dominating large periods of play and threatening in the latter stages, particularly.
That said, it was a game of few clear-cut chances though City went so close when Nahki Wells’ acrobatics were kept out by Alex Smithies and Filip Benković headed agonisingly wide.
With a share of the points looking likely, Ward got himself on to the end of a Lee Tomlin pass and deliver the sucker-punch strike with only minutes remaining.
Despite some promising play, Lee Johnson’s side continue to look for results after four consecutive defeats since the season’s resumption.
Yet City looked bright and resolute in defence, with a notable performance from a warrior-like Nathan Baker, who dealt with everything thrown his way.
City made three changes for their derby showdown. One of those was a forced change in goal, where Dan Bentley replaced Niki Mäenpää who was injured in midweek, Tomas Kalas slotted into defence in place of the suspended Ashley Williams, while Famara Diédhiou started up front alongside Wells. It meant Benik Afobe was named among the substitutes, as was young striker Freddie Hinds whose last City appearance came in January 2018.
Callum O’Dowda played a key role in City’s attacks and he almost provided an early goal from the left, with his cross leading to chances for Wells and Kalas but the Bluebirds defence made crucial blocks.
Bentley, back between the sticks, wouldn’t have a great deal to do in the opening half but was alert to a threatening Joe Ralls cross. Flashes of the error at Blackburn Rovers may have sprung to mind but this time the cross - which narrowly avoided Callum Paterson - was well watched by Bentley and he held on to the ball well.
Ralls was looking to be the delivery man but City dealt with the danger, while Zak Vyner guided a header on target, albeit lacking conviction, at the other end which Smithies smothered.
While their main jobs are scoring goals, City’s front pairing of Wells and Diédhiou were back doing the dirty work with Wells heading off the line, before Fam got a block in to deny Dion Sanderson, who later blazed off target.
Cardiff were able to get forward as the half continued but Baker refused to be broken, throwing himself in the way of shots from Ralls and Nathaniel Mendez-Laing before half-time.
It had been a good showing from the hosts, more in terms of their ability to shut out the Bluebirds and an attacking impetus was needed to increase their chances of picking up the points.
And Smithies was almost left embarrassed just seconds after the break. He received the ball to his feet and Wells charged down the shotstopper who blocked the clearance, but the ball span away from goal.
Bentley then showed fine work to turned Will Vaulks’ effort over the bar, with Wells well placed to head off the line from the resulting corner.
It would seem Neil Harris’ side were going to look the more likely to create an opener and Bentley and Vyner got crucial touches on to a dangerous cross by Hoilett and keep the ball away from the waiting-to-pounce Mendez-Laing.
City – now with Jamie Paterson on the field to replace Andi Weimann - managed to break forward from the Bluebirds chance and Jay Dasilva flew forward to try an effort on goal but for Curtis Nelson’s block.
But the Robins were growing in confidence and Wells soon went close to his fourth City goal of the season. Nagy’s cross found the Bermuda striker in acres of space towards the back post, and his guided volley looked to be finding the bottom corner but for the fine fingertips of Smithies.
It was the last of his duties with Afobe on to replace Wells soon after, alongside Benković and Jack Hunt’s introductions for O’Dowda and Vyner, respectively.
And Benković – on his first appearance since the restart – went agonisingly close with a header. Paterson’s corner was inviting for the loanee from Leicester City but his header was inches wide of the post.
But for all of City’s hard work and better play towards the latter stages, Cardiff found the breakthrough courtesy of their substitutes. It was Tomlin who showed strength through the middle before slipping a ball into the feet of Ward whose low first-time finish beat Bentley.
It came late but the goalmouth action didn’t end there as Bentley smothered at the feet of Ward in stoppage time, thwarting the forward the delight of a second goal, while at the other end Sol Bamba got in the way to head the ball out right in front of his own goalline. City pressured from the resulting set-piece and Kalas’ effort had to be blocked by a wall of bodies in blue and Afobe could only stab the ball wide in the aftermath.
City remain in the play-off hunt mathematically but know it’s a task out of their hands. The squad will now prepare to be back at Ashton Gate for the visit of Hull City on Wednesday (July 8th, 6pm KO).
The match will be live on Robins TV, free to Season Card holders and available with a £10 matchday pass to non Season-Card holders.
Photography by JMPUK.
- Zak Vyner, Callum O'Dowda, Andreas Weimann, Nahki Wells
- Ward (85')
- David Junior Hoilett, Nathaniel Mendez-Laing, Callum Paterson