Cardiff 0 - 2 Leicester. Comment

Last updated : 30 December 2023 By Paul Evans

This is going to be one of my shorter match reports because I can’t really think of much to say about Cardiff City’s 2-0 home defeat by Champions elect Leicester tonight. It seems to me that if you were someone who takes enough of an interest in Championship football to know what the main strengths and weaknesses of the twenty four teams involved are, you could have come up with a pretty accurate idea of how the match would work out – it was all pretty predictable.


The Leicester fans must be thoroughly enjoying their “year off” in the second tier and why not – going into the New Year, they are eight points clear at the top of the table and, with Ipswich and Leeds going through dodgy spells, there has to be every chance that their lead is going to grow in the coming weeks.

However, if I were a Leicester fan, I would still have a lingering anger that my side was in the Championship in the first place because they were really too good to go down last season – they have kept most of last season’s squad and where they have had to sell, brought in quality replacements.

A midfield three of Ndidi, Winks and Dewsbury-Hall is pretty good by Premier League standards, let alone Championship ones. Therefore, you start to see why I find it hard to be too critical of City tonight because this wasn’t a contest between equals. We’ve made a shocking job of maximising the strong and unfair advantage that parachute relegation payments should have given us, but, in Leicester’s case, the Premier League could have withheld their payment and they’d still probably have the strongest squad in the league.

The second goal tonight was a reminder of the talent of England full back James Justin and Leicester are spoilt for choice at centre back, winger and striker. Yes, you can point to results like Sheffield Wednesday taking a point off them and a defeat at inconsistent Middlesbrough, but, in essence, Leicester’s season has been about going to places like Cardiff and winning comfortably-  just like they did tonight.

City had a go, but the weaknesses outlined previously on here when it comes to creativity, technique, passing ability and taking the right option were all there tonight as they came up against opponents who were as impressive without the ball as they were with it.

By starting with a midfield three of Siopis, Wintle and Ralls, City predictably signalled that their approach would be to concede possession and territory to their opponents and hope to frustrate them – we’ve done that sort of thing against much weaker teams than Leicester this season, but tonight I thought it was an understandable policy even if the opening quarter of an hour suggested that the only way we would avoid defeat was with a 0-0 draw.

City got their first scare when Abdul Fatawe was given plenty of space and time to cross from the right to where Kieran Dewsbury-Hall stood in glorious isolation to head at goal from eight yards out. It seemed a certain goal, but Jak Alnwick did really well to block the header, although you couldn’t help thinking that the man often described as the Championship’s best player should have given our keeper no chance.

City were reprieved for no more than four minutes however, as one of their attempts to play out from the back went wrong as we went through one of those passages of play where players pass the ball on to someone else who is under more pressure with few options to to, thereby handing on responsibility and increasing the potential danger.

This time, Dimitrios Goutas put himself under pressure by not properly controlling the ball, the ball/buck was then passed on to Manolis Siopis who gave Joe Ralls something akin to a hospital pass. Predictably Ralls lost the ball just twenty odd yards from our goal and Dewsbury-Hall went on to score easily.

I like the fact that we’re trying to play more football after what was inflicted on supporters during the 2010s, but there really are times when a Warnock style hack into row Z is called for!

Leicester stayed in control for all but the last five minutes or so of the first half when City were able to up the attacking intensity a bit, but, on a night when it seemed obvious that their best chance of scoring lay in exploiting dead ball situations it was really disappointing that, so unusually for him, Ralls was unable to get a couple of corners past the first man.

City made a misleadingly assertive start to the second half, but some indecisive defending provided Justin with the chance to show his shooting skills as Alnwick was given no chance from twenty five yards and, having drawn blanks recently against the likes of West Brom, Southampton and Hull, there was no way we were going to score twice against one of the best ever sides of the modern Championship era.

Rubin Colwill and Ollie Tanner came on to have their moments and Siopis and Colwill finally worked visiting keeper Hermansen with well struck shots from the edge of the penalty area.

However these efforts paled in comparison to the shots by both of the Leicester wingers that struck the woodwork, while Jamilu Collins just about denied his Nigerian team mate Ndidi a goal with a last ditch header and Goutas took his season’s total for goal line clearances to something like thirty five when he also denied Ndidi.

A potentially serious hamstring injury to Karlan Grant means he will miss the trip to one of our modern bogey grounds on Monday when we visit QPR and Kion Etete again had to come off early with his own hamstring issue; although the belief is that he is not a potential long term absentee like Grant might be.

All in all, although City have been able to eke out a couple of wins during this spell in the season which has seem them clearly struggling, they are definitely limping into the New Year desperate for the return of long term injury victims Callum O’Dowda and Aaron Ramsey and the three or four new players that Erol Bulut said Vincent Tan has okayed in a recent meeting between the two men. Indeed, our manager sounded hopeful that there may be one or two new arrivals next week with the widespread assumption being that one of them will be Kieffer Moore back for a second spell at the club  – whoever they are, they can’t get here soon enough.