Cardiff 2 - 1 Ipswich. Comment

Last updated : 10 March 2024 By Paul Evans

Back in late November 2000, Cardiff City were in the fourth tier and were facing up to successive home games against Lincoln City and Hartlepool United. The combined attendance for the two matches was 11,037 and those of us who were there to see both games will never forget what happened in them – or, to be more accurate, we’ll never forget what happened after the ninety minute mark in them.


City were later to pay Lincoln half a million pounds (which was about £400,000 above his real worth!) for their centre forward Gavin Gordon who was largely responsible for the visitors going into added time with a 2-1 lead. Gordon’s two goals looked set to land a City side who were drawing too many games as they struggled to live up to the Sam Hammam hype with a damaging home defeat until Paul Brayson equalised and it looked like we’d escape with another draw, but, instead, Lincoln then proceeded to present us with a winner as their centre half Jason Barnett turned the ball into his own net.

Four days later, what had been a fairly quiet match against Hartlepool was level at 1-1 in the eighty eighth minute when Tommy Millar put the visitors 2-1 up, only for lightning to actually strike twice. The Willie Borland and Mark Bonner midfield pairing never used to score, but here it was the latter who made it 2-2 and then Kurt Nogan, the man the Echo claimed had been bought by the club’s supporters, came up with his only goal in City colours to secure a highly improbable pair of 3-2 wins which went a long way to setting a feeling that something special was happening that season in motion – indeed it was, as we secured promotion while scoring the most goals out of the ninety two clubs.

I always thought I would never see the like of those two finishes so close together again in my lifetime, but, in a way, I have now. I’m going to take a guess here and say that it was some sort of club record to come from behind in added time to win a couple of games in a season, well, whatever else happens in this season, City have equalled that record now.

Back in November, Karlan Grant and Ike Ugbo scored in added time at Preston to turn a potential 1-0 defeat into a 2-1 win, but the fact that the home team were out on their feet after having to play most of the second half with ten men following Robbie Brady’s red card greatly helped our cause.

However, today we needed no such help as an Ipswich side that were on their way to joining Leicester at the top of the table on eighty one points were left stunned when their 1-0 lead was overturned by goals in the ninety fifth and one hundredth minutes.

Okay, the two late, late show wins in 23/24 don’t match the 00/01 ones because they didn’t come in successive games, but it’s still a fantastic achievement for the current side and speaks volumes for their team spirit.

So, another bonkers game in the bonkers division which is the Championship, but, even without the breathless and dramatic ending, this was still a remarkable match by the standards of what we’ve come to expect from Cardiff City in 23/24. I say that because it didn’t follow what has become the script for the season – to be more accurate, it spent most of the time being a pretty typical City game, but when it veered off script, it did so spectacularly.

Ipswich arrived in the Welsh capital on the back of six straight wins and must have thought they knew exactly what to expect from us. This wouldn’t have included City sprinting out of the traps from the first whistle to force the title contenders on to the back foot and leave them grateful to have reached the fifteen minute mark without falling behind.

It was by a distance, our best start to a home game this season and apart from Huddersfield probably, I’m struggling to think of a better one in an away match. Quite why we decided to have a right go at Ipswich when the likes of Rotherham, Millwall and Sheffield Wednesday were given such a gentle introduction to their Saturday afternoon at Cardiff City Stadium I don’t know, but I’m not complaining!

City, with Yakou Meite starting in place of Famala Diedhiou in the only change from Wednesday night and Huddersfield gave Vaclav Hladky in the Ipswich goal more to do in the first fifteen minutes than some keepers get in the ninety when they face us.

Notably, Hladky had to turn aside a David Turnbull shot from twenty yards that looked to be heading in above his dive until he thrust his arm up to make the save. The resultant corner from Turnbull skidded off an Ipswich head and went beyond the far post to Josh Bowler who got his awkward half volley from virtually on the bye line exactly right as Hladky sprawled to make a save. However, for a split second, it looked like Perry Ng had been left with the formality of tapping in his seventh goal of the season, but the reality was that the chance was harder than it looked as the ball bounced up slightly and Ng was unable to get a full contact on it aa Kieffer Moore was able to clear off the line.

There were other easier saves for Hladky to make as City’s bright start got the crowd fired up in a way that has not been seen at the ground for months and by being so bold early on, they kept the crowd with them when the game entered its long mundane phase.

This began around the fifteen minute mark and up to around the eighty eighth minute, I can’t remember City having a single goal attempt (actually I’ve just remembered that Karlan Grant went past two defenders and then flashed a left footed attempt high and wide in the closing stages of the first half) unless you count a mishit Manolis Siopis cross that landed on the roof of the net or an Ng dribbler that Hladky fell on which I had down as another cross.

The fact is that, with Ipswich starving City of the corners and attacking free kicks which are like oxygen to them, their defence had it probably as easy as they have all season for about seventy five per cent of the game. Even by City standards as one of the least dangerous teams from open play in the division, we were offering absolutely nothing going forward.

That said, it’s only fair to recognise that Ipswich, the highest scoring team in the Championship, offered even less until the game reached its final quarter – that has to be a testimony as to how effectively City were stopping them playing.

Moore had scored with a back healer for Wigan at Cardiff City Stadium in 2020 and he nearly repeated the feat from virtually the same spot when his improvised shot flew not far off goal, but that was the only threat City faced as a first half that had started so promisingly rather petered out.

The second half offered more of the same as Ipswich’s free scoring attack continued to look blunt against a confident defence in which Nat Phillips continues to impress.

Gradually though, Ipswich began to take control – I say that, but it might have been City let them take control because it really did look for most of the second period that the height of our ambition was a 0-0 draw. The fact that Erol Bulut left it until the seventy fifth minute to make his first substitutions (Callum O’Dowda and Rubin Colwill for Meite and Turnbull) suggests that he was happy with how things were going which was understandable in a way because we were keeping our illustrious opponents quiet in a manner that we’d been wholly unable to against Leicester and Leeds recently, but with so little happening going forward now, I was expecting changes a good deal sooner than they happened.

Ipswich, by contrast, made a raft of attacking substitutions as they figured nothing but a win would do for their automatic promotion hopes following Leeds’ win at Sheffield Wednesday last night.

Another thing the tractor boys are the best in the Championship at is scoring late goals and with the direction of play now almost exclusively towards the home goal, it was hard to avoid a feeling that the visitors were going to sneak it late on.

Ethan Horvarth was finally given a save to make when Sam Morsy’s well struck twenty yarder flew straight at him, but it was sub Omari Hutchinson who signalled a stepping up of Ipswich’s attacking intent with a shot from a similar distance that Horvarth did well to tip aside.

It was Moore, with his head bandaged following a cut sustained in a collision with Dimitrios Goutas, who broke the deadlock though in the seventy ninth minute with a low left footed shot across Horvath from the corner of the penalty area. My first impression was that Horvarth should have done better with the shot, but having seen replays of the goal, I think you have to credit the ex City striker for a classy finish which was always just out of the keeper’s reach.

City now had to chase the game and bought on Diedhiou for Bowler as Grant, who had been leading the attack after Meite’s withdrawal, switched out to the right, but, for a while, it was as if by spending so much time concentrating on keeping Ipswich out, City had forgotten how to attack.

A cross by Colwill which almost cleared the Canton Stand roof (okay, that’s an exaggeration!) suggested City were slipping meekly to one of those 1-0 home defeats seen far too often in recent seasons, but, as it turned out, I’d say the Academy product was the architect of the game’s remarkable ending.

About two minutes from the end of normal time Colwill had another opportunity to cross from the right and this time he produced a beauty of a low ball right into the Ipswich “corridor of uncertainty” which Diedhiou just missed and the stretching O’Dowda put over the bar from about eight yards out.

The effect of this close miss was that Ipswich suddenly looked nervous as City found the energy which characterised their fast start again and suddenly the idea of an equaliser didn’t seem so pie in the sky.

With Ng pushing forward, Colwill joining in and Grant still full of running, it was Ipswich’s left flank that was feeling the strain and with half of the signalled added eight minutes played, Colwill got to the bye line, this time his cross was high to the far post where O’Dowda again showed how useful he is in the air by heading down into the middle and when the ball was half cleared to Ryan Wintle stood by the penalty spot, his volley found the net with a slight deflection off a defender

So, a point rescued late on and I assumed this was the signal for everyone in blue to take up defensive duties again, but, not a bit of it, City kept on pouring forward (great credit to Erol Bulut for showing an adventurous side I didn’t think he possessed if it was at his orders).

It was as if they could smell blood as City were invariably first to every ball. Joe Ralls was brought on for man of the match Wintle in one of those added time substitutions that I never understand, but Bulut had got it right again as City were finally awarded a corner out on the right (was Leif Davis fouled by Grant beforehand as he claimed he was?) which the captain went over to take and his inswinger caused havoc in the penalty area as Diedhiou got an important touch, Ng hooked on and O’Dowda arrived on the far post four yards out to neatly turn the ball in to secure a fourth straight win for his side and what is almost certainly our best victory of the season.

So, as someone who has been critical of the attitude under this manager in recent weeks, I’ve got to congratulate him and the team for what they achieved today and I can only hope that the effectiveness we showed when we did attack today will lead to us going for a repeat of that attitude in our remaining games. I still think the Play Offs are a pipe dream, but we are now just five points off sixth place and I’d say we need to maintain the attacking intensity we showed at times today to get the six wins or so which could well end up proving me wrong.

By contrast to the pandemonium in the main stadium, it was all pretty quiet at Leckwith this lunchtime as Charlton dealt another blow to the under 18s’ Play Off hopes by winning 1-0.