Not pretty but three more points
Headed goals from Jόhann Berg Guðmundsson and Sam Vokes helped Burnley to a 2-1 win yesterday afternoon at Cardiff to follow up last week’s 4-0 victory against Bournemouth and it has lifted us to 12th in the Premier League table.
It certainly wasn’t pretty, but never was going to be against Neil Warnock’s side. We certainly weren’t anywhere near our best, definitely not in the first half, but a defeat would have seen us drop back into the relegation places so this result ensured a happy journey home from South Wales, our first win in the country since we won at Cardiff in April 2000 and our first victory against Cardiff anywhere since Steve Jones and Paul McVeigh scored in a 2-0 win at the Turf on Easter Monday 2007.
I was asked at the end of the game yesterday what I could possibly write about a largely uninspiring ninety minutes and I did say there would be mention of our lunch stop on the way. We found this hidden gem in the Brecon Beacons at Pantygelli on last season’s Swansea trip. We were not going to miss out on Sunday lunch there yesterday and the detour, one that took us past former Football League ground Edgar Street, Hereford, was worth it.
More recent trips to Wales have been met with pouring rain. This time it was fine. albeit the temperatures had dropped, and we received the usual warm welcome from the Cardiff stewards. There was a time, in the Ninian Park days, when this was one of the more hostile places to visit but it is has changed beyond all recognition. You are made welcome from the minute you get there and, not only that, Cardiff are one of three Premier League clubs, the others are Brighton and Huddersfield, who now offer a safe seating area for away supporters, an area where standing isn’t permitted. Elsewhere for the away fans, they allow standing. Yesterday, with a small number of Burnley fans there, it was like the old ‘sit where you like’ Championship days but the stewards were helpfully directing people dependent on whether you wished to sit or stand.
Sean Dyche had named an unchanged team from the previous league game. He’d all but said he would after the Bournemouth game and the only change was the one that saw Steven Defour named as one of the substitutes.
There’s little I can write about the first half that would be encouraging. We were very disappointing and the one positive that we can take from it is that we went in at half time level at 0-0. It might not have been. Without playing particularly well themselves, Cardiff were much the better of the two sides; they hit the post, had strong claims for a penalty, forced a goal line headed clearance from Matěj Vydra and Kenneth Zohore brought one outstanding save from Joe Hart by the foot of his left hand post.
Without being brilliant, the second half was much better. We had our own claims for a penalty when Sam Vokes went down. I think we would have been very unhappy had that been given against us and it was no surprise when the impressive Martin Atkinson waved away the claims. So the wait for a Premier League penalty goes on; it has now reached fifty games since the one at Everton in April 2017.
We weren’t to be denied though and were soon in front. When Vydra was beaten to the ball, Cardiff got it out for a throw in on our left. Charlie Taylor threw it to Ashley Westwood who had made a good run forward. Westwood’s cross into the box was headed home at the back post by Guðmundsson and we were in front.
You knew there would be some defending to do and so it proved. If they don’t do anything else, Cardiff do get the ball into your box as often as possible. They love to get dead ball kicks and throw ins which are even more dangerous when thrown directly into the box.
There were some worrying moments down at the far end but generally we saw it out without too much of a concern and Cardiff did look a beaten side long before the end.
Pretty? No. Good performance? Not particularly. Three points? Yes, and that made it a really enjoyable journey home. We do need to play better than this, we really do, but we also need wins and two in successive weekends have made a huge difference, certainly when looking at the league table.
With Defour back in the reckoning, Robbie Brady on his way and Ben Gibson won’t be too far away we can do without any more injuries so hopefully the one sustained by James Tarkowski yesterday, which forced him off before the half hour, won’t be too bad.
At last, a trip to Wales brings us points so overall a good day out.
The teams were;
Cardiff: Neil Etheridge, Bruno Ecuele Manga, Sean Morrison, Sol Bamba, Greg Cunningham, Harry Arter, Victor Camarasa, Joe Ralls (Gary Madine 79), Josh Murphy, Callum Paterson, Kenneth Zohore (Danny Ward 71). Subs not used: Brian Murphy, Jazz Richards, Bobby Reid, Kadeem Harris, Joe Bennett.
Yellow Card: Greg Cunningham.
Burnley: Joe Hart, Matt Lowton, James Tarkowski (Kevin Long 27), Ben Mee, Charlie Taylor, Jόhann Berg Guðmundsson, Ashley Westwood, Jack Cork, Aaron Lennon, Matěj Vydra (Chris Wood 72), Sam Vokes. Subs not used: Tom Heaton, Phil Bardsley, Steven Defour, Jeff Hendrick, Ashley Barnes.
Yellow Cards: Ashley Westwood, Matt Lowton, Aaron Lennon.
Referee: Martin Atkinson (Leeds).
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