Coventry City 1 Cardiff City 2. Match Report

Last updated : 17 March 2010 By Michael Morris
CARDIFF CITY recorded a big win at Coventry City with two Dave Jones rarities, a late goal and the team actually coming from behind to secure victory. The winner, a Peter Whittingham penalty in injury time, was a controversial award but, make no mistake, this big win was thoroughly deserved.

A more blatant penalty was missed earlier, City missed a couple of sitters one of them surely miss of the season and showed quality, character and creativity that was a notch above their hosts. Cardiff fans, many sporting Malaysian flags hoping for good investment news later this week, lapped it up.

I drove to the game straight from work in Newport and was in Coventry in the time it takes to watch the game. The trip back to Barry was just as swift. Going up was uneventful, no problems on the roads. I parked a 20 minute walk from the ground, caught up with a few fans for a pre-game beer and only when I got near Ricoh Arena did I remember my ticket was still in my bleeding car. After a cross-country run of the type I hadn't done since school days too many moons ago, I made it panting and wheezing just as the match started.

City were unchanged from the side that lost at Leicester last weekend which meant Kevin McNaughton won his fitness battle but Gabor Gyepes did not meaning SuperKev continued as an emergency centre-half.

CARDIFF: Marshall: Matthews-McNaughton-Gerrard-Kennedy; Burke-Blake-McPhail-Whittingham; Bothroyd-McCormack.

Coventry were unbeaten at home in 8 and had only lost 1 in 10 and would have gone above City and took us out of the play-off frame had they won but this defeat, following a home draw to lowly Plymouth last weekend leaves them 5 points adrift of Cardiff having played a game more and they have just 9 matches left. On this evidence, they've done well to be close to the top as they never looked as good as City.

The crowd was 16.300 better than usual when I've been there but the impressive Ricoh Arena (our stadium could have looked as good if we hadn't cut many corners) is far less than half full with that crowd so they were treated to the empty seats song. City had about 600 fans but we were packed into 1 block behind a goal and to one side instead of getting a large area as in previous visits.

Cardiff started brightly and posed a threat a few times but the final ball never happened or was just poor. When Coventry got forward, it wasn't so much their play causing difficulties as Cardiff's shaky defending McNaughton and, to a lesser degree, Matthews are exempt from that.

City's strong start did not equate to Westwood, in Cov's goal being tested, and the game balanced out. It needed a goal and when it came, it fell against Cardiff and, yet again, was not about a good attack as our incompetence.

The Ponderous Mark Kennedy (I'm starting to think his real name is Ponderous Mark Kennedy!) was almost caught out when there was no need and fluffed a clearance out of play. A basic long throw saw a soft near post header and the ball ran the entire 6 yard box with no City defender anywhere to be seen so CLINTON MORRISON had the easiest task of stooping to head home at the far post.

A goal behind when all of City's games lately seem to depend on the first goal had, in a live table, taken us out of the play-off and left us in real trouble but credit to them for hitting back even stronger than before. Chris Burke, on stunning from all night, was taking the game to the hosts and aided by Steve McPhail's passing like few can match at this level, Cardiff took a grip.

Darcy Blake put a firm free header over the bar, he should have done much better, than McPhail brilliantly picked out Whittingham's run and he placed home but his and our celebrations were cut short by the offside flag. It was the other end of the pitch to us but looked ok. Bothroyd, working his nuts off and leading by example, also magically played in Whitts but his shot was poor. It was the other end of the pitch to us but looked ok.

However, it mattered little as City levelled 90 seconds later with a smart move, Bothroyd fired across the box and BURKE pounced at the far post to fire high into the net. Ave'it!!

Half-time: Cov 1 THE REAL CCFC 1

A blow saw City return minus McNaughton whose defensive play was outstanding in the first half. Rae came on, Blake dropped back and slotted in as an emergency centre half.

However it was Cardiff still showing the quality and producing all the moves but they missed simple chances. Mark Kennedy, after a great build up, sent in the perfect low cross which Whittingham met at the far post but somehow fired over from 2 yards out, it was inexplicable. McCormack, disappointing and falling over most of the night, was sent clear by a brilliant McPhail through ball but his shot was so tame, it was little more than a back pass. An obvious penalty for handball was missed. Bothroyd and McCormack free-kicks caused problems even if both efforts were straight at the keeper.

Coventry were impotent and showing their frustration as Burke ran rings around them. However they were able to send on Freddie Eastwood and Freddie Sears as attacking subs, what we would give for options like that!

The ref was annoying both sides with a stream of poor or baffling decisions. I'm convinced he was making wrong decisions against one side at the first opportunity to make up for an error he'd just made for the other side.

The game, for all City's best endeavours, looked to be heading for a draw even with the novelty of Mark Kennedy going on a surging 40 yard run into the penalty box (did my eyes deceive me?) but late drama to end it all.

A floated ball to the far post saw Peter Whittingham try to help it back across goal. It struck a defender's arm 5 yards away. We screamed handball, the linesman flagged for it. Coventry were incensed, it was a touch harsh but they do get given and it was perfect justice for the penalty we should have been awarded earlier.

That came moments after 3 minutes added time was announced but it took that time to get the penalty taken. However PETER WHITTINGHAM, cool as you like, hammered it home low giving Westwood no chance. And boy, did we party and celebrate that with the players right in front of us.

Amazingly, from the restart, Coventry got down field once and a cross saw Bell's lopping header bounce off the bar and bundled away but it was our night, not theirs and deservedly so too.

Final whistle saw Coventry players furiously surround the officials and Anthony Gerrard lose it and attempt to get down the players tunnel to fight someone, other player and City officials had to visibly restrain him. What was that all about?

Cardiff remain 6th but are now 3 points clear of the next side (Sheffield United) with a game in hand over everyone who can catch us and a much better goal difference which may yet be decisive. Ten games to go, 6 of them at home including 3 of the next 4 matches.

Play-offs, like salvation for the club, all of a sudden look achievable just as some began to give up hope. Never a dull moment with City, is there?

Report from FootyMad

Peter Whittingham fired his 20th goal of the season to give Cardiff City a controversial 2-1 victory at Coventry City.

The crucial Championship clash looked to be heading for a draw before referee Simon Hooper awarded a stoppage-time penalty on the basis of his assistant's opinion that defender Martin Cranie had handled.

Whittingham, who had earlier missed from two yards, fired in the spot-kick to win it for Dave Jones' team.

It had been a scrappy start to the first half with Cardiff dominating possession but making very little use of it. Coventry striker Clinton Morrison carved himself a half-chance in the 16th minute but he shot into the side-netting from a very tight angle.

Chris Coleman's team started to come into it and Morrison went close with a header from Cranie's cross in the 18th minute but his effort drifted just wide.

Then, two minutes later, Michael McIndoe and Jonathan Stead combined to set up Irish midfielder Gary Deegan but he shot wide when he could have played in Morrison.

Whittingham had a sight of goal in the 25th minute but he fired high over the bar from distance.

The home side took the lead and it was Morrison who found the net for City in the 32nd minute. Aron Gunnarsson sent in a long throw from the right, James McPake helped it on to the back post and Morrison headed in from a yard out for his 11th of the season.

The visitors had a chance to hit straight back when Chris Burke crossed from the right wing but Darcy Blake headed over the crossbar.

Whittingham had the ball in the net in the 40th minute but it was ruled out for offside. Just seconds later, however, Cardiff were back on level terms. Coventry failed to deal with a flick from Jay Bothroyd and, as the home defence hesitated, Burke stole in and shot home from ten yards.

Cardiff had two great chances to go ahead after half-time. Whittingham missed from right under the crossbar after Mark Kennedy's fiercely struck cross.

Then Ross McCormack went through on goal but shot straight at Coventry keeper Keiren Westwood.

The Cardiff striker nearly made amends in the 62nd minute but his smashed free-kick was palmed away by Westwood and headed clear by Richard Wood.

Carl Baker finished off a 78th-minute run with a shot inside the box which was blocked by a Cardiff body and left Coventry claiming a penalty for handball.

Coventry's claims were waved away but, 12 minutes later, Cardiff were given a penalty and Whittingham's cool spot-kick won it.