Five things we learned about Cardiff City as Neil Warnock's side dazzle with enterprising display in 3-1 win over Ipswich Town
Here are five things we learned from the win.
By Dominic Booth
Saturday 18th March 2017
" Is this the same team? "
This observer has seen Cardiff flounder at home on too many occasions. There was a forgettable 1-0 defeat to lowly Wigan Athletic, a bore draw with Brighton and a 1-0 win over the limited Burton Albion which came courtesy of a last gasp goal from a debutant (Rhys Healey).
This was entirely different, as Warnock's team selection bore fruit in dramatic fashion.
The Yorkshireman is often misconstrued as a defensive boss with a penchant for no-nonsense football.
But placing the adventurous Jazz Richards and Joe Bennett in the full back positions, with Craig Noone, Junior Hoilett and Kadeem Harris in an attacking midfield trio that boasted endeavour and skill in abundance, doesn't fit that narrative.
Simply put, Warnock wants Cardiff to score goals. With those aforementioned players and the sensational Kenneth Zohore leading the line, that shouldn't be - and wasn't - a problem.
This was arguably their best performance under the wily manager.
' Zohore wins the battle again Lawrence '
Strikers can often steal the show in football, but these two have rightly been grabbing headlines in recent weeks for their enterprising forward play.
It was nip and tuck in the first half. Zohore whizzed a shot narrowly wide in the first five minutes and Lawrence dazzled on an early solo run that should have brought a goal, only for Allan McGregor to save superbly from David McGoldrick.
The big Dane got more opportunities to burst forward as the game wore on and emerged as the clear winner from the titanic duel.
Lawrence did provide the kind of set piece delivery we're used to seeing from Peter Whittingham in the first half. It was a teasing out-swinging free-kick that was begging to be nodded home. Luke Chambers duly did.
Zohore wasn't going to be outdone though. His first-time volleyed finish to level the scores on 36 minutes showed a real finisher's touch.
And the second, after Junior Hoilett's delightful flick was never in doubt. He caressed the ball home to sent the Bluebirds fans into raptures. His potential knows no bounds.
' Uncharacteristic errors '
Set pieces? No, Cardiff don't concede goals from set pieces.
But on this occasion, they did. Chambers' desire and Lawrence's quality combined to unpick a Bluebirds' defence that is usually so solid when defending dead ball situations.
Granted, Lawrence's free kick was superb, bent in with dip and accuracy, but Warnock will have been incensed to see his back four concede that kind of goal.
History could have repeated itself shortly after the interval when McGoldrick ghosted in at the back post but - thankfully for Cardiff - fluffed his lines. Warnock will have been delighted to see the Bluebirds' back four shore up after the interval.
' More entertaining than expected '
With a blustery wind flying around Cardiff City Stadium on a grey March afternoon, nobody expected this to be an eye-catching clash.
Thin mizzle hung in the air and so too did the long balls - epitomised when Ipswich skipper Chambers hacked one straight up in the first minute.
The Tractor Boys came into the clash having drawn six games in succession, five of them 1-1 and the other 0-0.#
Cardiff's home displays have often been dour and drab as well, so to see both sides approach an enthralling first half with ambition and courage was refreshing.
The Bluebirds' attacking intent was over-flowing, with Noone, Harris and Hoilett causing all sorts of problems in behind the robust Zohore. Ipswich's direct counter-attacking was hardly conservative either and could have easily scored more.
The result was a cracking spectacle, a microcosm of which was Hoilett's nonchalant flick to feed Zohore for the Dane's sublime second.
' The touchline soap opera '
With Warnock and McCarthy patrolling the touchline, the technical areas provided some drama as we might have expected.
Warnock was furious with referee James Linnington for a couple of soft first-half free kicks, one of which led to the Chambers' goal.
The referee gave as good as he got and wasn't afraid to confront Warnock when the Cardiff boss made his opinion crystal clear.
McCarthy was the calmer of the two, but was seemingly unable to stem the tide of Bluebirds' pressure.
His Ipswich side reverted to persistent fouls, which infuriated Warnock further still.
The senior man had the last laugh though, watching his side produce a purring display to ease past the 50-point barrier. Next stop, next season!
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