Stalemate at Cardiff in game of few thrills


Cardiff City failed to gain a third successive victory over Preston North End this season in a match lacking in goalmouth action or excitement in South Wales.

Home boss Steve Morrison started with young Welshman Isaak Davies up top alongside Jordan Hugill. Three Welsh internationals started on the home bench, in the shape of Will Vaulks, Mark Harris and the highly rated Rubin Colwill.

Former Welsh international Ched Evans wore the number 9 shirt for the visitors but visiting boss Ryan Lowe started with him amongst the substitutes alongside one-time Bluebirds target Sean Maguire.

Cardiff-born Andrew Hughes lined up on the left flank for the Lilywhites, who wore a bizarre green & yellow ensemble for reasons hard to calculate.

We had to wait some time for the first flash of inspiration, a twinkling pirouette on the right from home wing back Cody Drameh bringing cheers from the home support though ultimately it led to nothing. The 20 year old Leeds loanee looked up for the contest today, earning a rebuke from referee James Linington for a somewhat overzealous challenge high up the field.

The home side stepped on the gas a little as the game developed, with Hugill and, again, Drameh, prominent.

Daniel Johnson was a lively outlet for the Deepdale outfit but his pacey interventions were dealt with by Aden Flint and the home defenders. The game was unexciting, with neither keeper tested to any great extent.

The visitors grew in composure and may have had a claim for a penalty midway through the half as 13 goal striker Emil Riis Jakobsen (known simply as “Riis”) appeared to be bundled over in the box. No spot kick ensued, however.

Despite occasional glimpses of enthusiasm, the opening half had seen little to excite the crowd. When Cardiff City pressed forward they found the imposing figure of Senegalese defender Bambo Diaby in an uncompromising mood throughout.

Alfie Doughty blasted over as we hit the interval when he really could have opened the scoring. Tommy Doyle and the rest of the Bluebirds midfield had tried hard to move the ball about but Hugill and Davies had been unable to force their way past the determined visitors.

Lowe’s men probably had the best of the early second half action but it was all a little untidy. Brad Potts saw plenty of the ball going forward but Flint, Perry Ng and the rest of the Cardiff defence were in no mood to budge. Drameh raced forward on occasions but that final touch of composure from Cardiff City was always lacking.

After an hour of largely uneventful play, the home support began to call for the introduction of robust home favourite Uche Ikpeazu. Morrison responded by acceding to their request and also introduced the silky skills of promising young Wales star Rubin Colwill.

The changes saw the emphasis of the game switch to the visitors’ half but it was still largely more of the same. North End skipper Alan Browne fired wired from distance with an effort that Alex Smithies was able to admire as it went safely past him.

Home skipper Joe Ralls was harshly booked on 70 minutes but we really were scratching around for things to comment on now. Neither side was attacking with any great outcome and you sensed that this one might be more about not losing rather than winning. Smithies denied the still interested Johnson by stabbing out a foot to deny the dangerous number 11 but chances remained at a premium.

Cardiff City stood strong to resist the away side’s pressing and perhaps a better side may have punished the Bluebirds. Browne should have done better from close range with ten minutes left on the clock after scruffy play had threatened to unlock the home defence.

At the opposite end Daniel Iverson had been a virtual spectator in between the sticks for the visitors throughout the second half yet produced a splendid one-handed save to deny Ikpeazu in a rare moment of quality during this uninspiring encounter.

Lowe introduced former Swansea City favourite Scott Sinclair in the closing stages, bringing predictable reactions from the home fans.

Colwill danced and squeezed through midfield on 86 minutes, finding gaps that weren’t there, as suddenly the Bluebirds looked interested; Ikpeazu again forcing Iverson into late, smart action.

As the clock ticked away, the hefty Ikpeazu was tripped and sent to the deck during injury time and, from the resultant free kick, Hugill even fired into the net. Linington saw an infringement though and a dour game ended goalless.

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