5 clean sheets in a row at home. John Heyda investigates

Last updated : 29 October 2003 By Michael Morris
With Tuesday night's 3-0 home win over Watford, Cardiff City extended to five their streak of consecutive clean sheets in league matches at Ninian Park. The Bluebirds have not conceded a goal at home since Mathias Svensson scored Derby County's lone goal in City's 4-1 win back on August 25. Since then the Bluebirds have thrashed Gillingham 5-0, whipped Crewe 3-0, and posted 0-0 draws with Wigan and West Ham, before blanking Watford yesterday.

Should Neil Alexander & Company succeed in blanking Stoke City at Ninian Park on November 8, this year's Bluebirds will match the all-time club record set by City's very first league entry, the 1920-21 squad, which held six consecutive opponents scoreless in league matches at Ninian Park during that inaugural season. Interestingly, the run of six clean sheets came in the last half dozen home matches. The streak began with a 1-0 win over Leeds on March 28 and was followed by a 3-0 win over Nottingham Forest on April 4, 1-0 wins over Gateshead on April 9 and Rotherham on April 11, a 0-0 draw with
Hull City on April 23, and a 2-0 win over Wolves in the home finale on May 2.

City last registered five clean sheets in a row in league matches at home nearly 16 years ago, during the promotion-winning campaign of 1987-88. That run began with a 3-0 win over Tranmere on December 26, and included a 4-0 blanking of Cambridge United on January 30, a 1-0 triumph over Colchester February 13, and 0-0 draws with Stockport on February 27 and Peterborough on March 4. The string ended when City drew with Wrexham 1-1 on March 16.

Since stringing the five clean sheets together back in 1987-88, City have had a good many such streaks of four. In fact, on nine different occasions since that 1987-88 streak, City have blanked four consecutive league opponents at home only to concede a goal in the fifth match. During the 1998-99 promotion-winning campaign, for instance, City blanked Leyton Orient, Exeter, Scarborough, and Southend in October and November before conceding twice in a 4-2 Ninian Park win over Mansfield on December 19. In the promotion-
winning season of 2000-01, City held Kidderminster, Mansfield, Darlington, and York without a goal in a run that began in September and carried on into November. Then Gavin Gordon scored twice for Lincoln on November 22 to stop that streak at four. The ill-fated 2001-02 season saw City blank four straight opponents at home in January and February. City topped Stoke 2-0 on January 22, then beat Swindon 3-0, Bury 1-0, and Cambridge United 2-0 in February before drawing 1-1 with QPR on March 5. Last season City put together yet another run of four, this one in October and November. Wycombe were dispatched 1-0, then Tranmere 4-0, Peterborough 3-0, and Chesterfield
1-0 before Bristol City netted two in blanking the Bluebirds 2-0 on December 14.

All together, City have managed the feat of five straight clean sheets in league play at home on five separate occasions. Besides this season and the 1987-88 string, the Bluebirds have blanked five straight home opponents in league matches during the 1949-50, 1968-69, and 1982-83 campaigns.

John Heyda