A last look at the pre match papers

Last updated : 10 May 2003 By Michael Morris

Stop your moaning, Bluebirds
BRISTOL CITY manager Danny Wilson threw down the gauntlet ahead of today's play-off showdown with Cardiff City by stating, "I'm surprised they didn't go up automatically."

Wilson started the psychological battle between the two big Severnside rivals by claiming Lennie Lawrence's Bluebirds had blown their opportunity to finish second behind Wigan in Division Two.

And also told the Bluebirds to stop moaning about penalty decisions that were awarded to his side in the two league matches between the clubs this season.

Wilson's comments will give extra spice to what already promises to be an explosive tie when he brings his Bristol side to Ninian Park for the semi-final first leg play-off clash.

Lawrence's expensively assembled City outfit - hot favourites to win automatic promotion before the big kick-off last summer - eventually finished a disappointing sixth, while cash-strapped Bristol City were third.

Opening up to The Western Mail on his surprise at Cardiff's failure, Wilson said, "In the last few weeks of the season, when Cardiff had those games in hand over Crewe, I expected them to take second place.
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One of the rarest sights in football
THE last time Cardiff City beat Bristol City, Nigel Mansell was Formula One world champion - and a young Andy Cole was playing for the Robins.

The date was August 18, 1992. The game was the first leg of a Coca-Cola Cup first-round tie, Carl Dale scoring the only goal of the night at Ninian Park.

You have to go back to April 1971, when Britain had just turned decimal and Apollo 14 landed on the moon, for another Bluebirds victory over their big Severnside rivals.

On that occasion, midfielder Ken Wimshurst put through his own net in league clash at Ninian Park,

If you thought Bristol City were Cardiff's bogey team, think again. They are . . . but 25 times over!

Only once, in 26 matches stretching over 32 years, have Cardiff managed to beat Bristol City, courtesy of that Dale goal.

And even that one was cancelled out by a Cole hat-trick when the two teams played the return match at Ashton Gate.

So, with the two old foes meeting today at Ninian Park for the first leg of their play-off semi-final, Danny Wilson's men know history is on their side.

They have also already beaten City twice this season, winning each league match by a 2-0 margin.

"It did not realise Cardiff's record against Bristol City was so bad," admitted Dale, when presented with the damning statistics.
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No family favours from hotshot Roberts
BRISTOL CITY striker Christian Roberts is planning on breaking his older brother's heart over the next few days.

Cardiff postman David Roberts is a Bluebirds fanatic and a Bob Bank season-ticket holder.

The 35-year-old has followed his beloved City for 20 years and he is desperate to see them win promotion to the First Division.

But his kid brother - who today faces his old club in the play-off semi-final first leg at Ninian Park - has other ideas.

The Robins star has scored in both league matches against City this season and now he aims to upset his older sibling and dump Lennie Lawrence's men out of the play-offs.

"I know David is a Cardiff fan, but I am unable to do him any favours in these games," smiled the Ashton Gate hit-man.

"I have to do my best for Bristol City and hopefully I can score a couple of goals in these play-off games.

"David does give me grief when I score against Cardiff. He knows it is my job. I would not try and stop him doing his job," added Cardiff-born Roberts.

The 23-year-old began his career at Ninian Park before he was released on a free transfer in the summer of 2000.

He arrived at Ashton Gate in March 2002 in a £100,000 switch from Exeter where he resurrected his career.

"I used to go to Ninian Park with David to support Cardiff. It was David who started taking me there," said Roberts.

"I remember watching Nicky Richardson, Chris Pike, Phil Stant, Nathan Blake, Carl Dale and Paul Millar.
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The Record breaker
Bristol City be warned! Robert Earnshaw has smashed two longstanding Cardiff City goalscoring records this season. The self-proclaimed 'Zambian Prince' has netted 31 times in league action for the Bluebirds, more than any other player during a single season in the history of the Welsh club.

Stan Richards had set the previous league record in 1946-47 with 30, while Earnshaw has also fired 35 league AND cup goals to break the record held by Hughie Ferguson set during Cardiff 's FA Cup winning season almost 80 years ago.

"It's a brilliant feeling. I can't describe how I felt when that goal went in against Crewe (last weekend) and ensured I broke both records, " Earnshaw glowed.

"I'm proud to have scored so many goals for Cardiff and I have to thank Peter Thorne (strike partner), who has been brilliant alongside me and helped me so much."

Hard to believe there was a time, only three years ago, when Earnshaw felt unwanted by Cardiff.

He was shipped off to Greenock Morton, Fulham and Middlesbrough by then-boss Frank Burrows and also spent a short spell with Sheffield Wednesday.

"I felt he didn't think I could make the grade, particularly when I ended up playing on loan for Greenock in Scotland, " he confessed.

"The manager called me into his office in the morning and asked me how I fancied a loan spell at Morton.

"I said I'd give it a go and I was on a flight that afternoon. I didn't even know where Greenock Morton was!

It was about 25 minutes from Glasgow Airport and they put me up in a hotel not far from their Cappielow Park ground in Greenock.

"But I was recalled after four games up there and that's when things started to go well for me at Cardiff."
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Peacock's set to tackle his old pal Prior
Bristol City striker Lee Peacock knows what to expect when he comes up against Spencer Prior on Saturday. The contest between the frontman and Cardiff City's centre half is likely to have a major bearing on the result of their promotion play-off.

The pair know each other having been at Manchester City together in the 1999-2000 season.

But Peacock is aware there will be no holding back from the former Leicester City star on the pitch at Ninian Park on Saturday.

Peacock said: "He was there the same season and I know him and he's a good lad and we are friends off the pitch - but on the field it's down to business.

"You haven't got any mates in the opposition - we will just get on with it and then afterwards shake hands and maybe have a beer in the bar.

"On the pitch it's down to business because at the end of the day it's your livelihood and promotion.

"He cracked me a few times when they played us last (in a 2-0 win at Ashton Gate last month) but you expect that and you get that.
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