March 5, 2013
High Noone for Cardiff
Substitute Craig Noone earned Cardiff a 1-1 draw against Derby as the npower Championship leaders dropped two more points at Cardiff City Stadium.
Cardiff have seen their lead at the top of the table, which was once in double figures, slowly eaten away by the chasing pack and they looked set to suffer a third defeat in four games when Conor Sammon gave Derby the lead with 15 minutes remaining.
But Noone powered home a header just seven minutes later as he connected with Andrew Taylor's cross to ensure a share of the spoils.
It has been a difficult few weeks for Cardiff after seeing their lead at the top of the table slowly eroded.
There has also been the furore over owner Tan Sri Vincent Tan's reported plans for a further re-branding of the club - including a re-naming and alterations to the club crest, both of which have been denied.
A combination of the two factors looked to be having an impact as the injury-hit visitors enjoyed the better of the opening half.
Nigel Clough was without the likes of Jamie Ward, John Brayford, Craig Bryson, Will Hughes and James O'Connor through injury and was only able to name five substitutes.
But the Rams, with Craig Forsyth making his debut and Valentin Gjokaj being handed a first start, looked far more fluent than their jittery hosts.
The excellent Paul Coutts volleyed narrowly wide of David Marshall's right-hand post before the former Preston midfielder's exquisite pass ripped Cardiff open.
Sammon pulled the ball back for Jeff Hendrick and it took a superb block by Ben Turner to deny his effort while Derby appealed for handball against the defender.
Derby went closer still to an opener on the half-hour, Hendrick robbed Peter Whittingham and drove at the heart of the Cardiff defence to tee up Chris Martin to slot home, but the assistant referee raised his flag to hand the hosts a reprieve.
Marshall got down well to keep out another low strike from Coutts as the home crowd's frustration increased.
Cardiff, doubtless with some strong words from manager Malky Mackay ringing in their ears, started the second half in better fashion.
Heidar Helguson just failed to get his head to a Tommy Smith cross before Adam Legzdins denied Fraizer Campbell from point-blank range by pushing the striker's header up and over the bar after Ben Turner had won a flick-on at the near post.
The pressure increased as first Whittingham and then Campbell saw efforts blocked, but Cardiff were stunned when the visitors took the lead against the run of play with 15 minutes remaining.
The Bluebirds gave away possession in their own territory, and when Ben Davies' cross was only half cleared, Sammon was on hand to calmly slot his eighth goal of the season into the bottom corner.
But the lead did not last long as substitute Noone headed home when Legzdins came and got nowhere near Taylor's centre to set up a series of frantic Cardiff attacks.
Rudy Gestede looked as though he had to find the winner when the ball fell to him unmarked inside the six-yard box but his attempt at a spectacular volley ballooned horribly over the bar to sum up Cardiff's nervous night.
|Cardiff City||Derby County|
|1 David Marshall||13 Adam Legzdins|
|3 Andrew Taylor||3 Gareth Roberts|
|6 Ben Turner||5 Jake Buxton|
|12 Matthew Connolly||6 Richard Keogh|
|31 Ben Nugent||21 Valentin Gjokaj|
|7 Peter Whittingham||18 Ben Davies|
|11 Craig Conway||24 Craig Forsyth|
|17 Aron Gunnarsson||7 Paul Coutts|
|22 Heidar Helguson||8 Jeff Hendrick|
|27 Fraizer Campbell||32 Conor Sammon|
|14 Tommy Smith||25 Chris Martin|
|32 Joe Lewis||Frank Fielding 1|
|2 Kevin McNaughton||Michael Hoganson 22|
|8 Don Cowie||Michael Jacobs 12|
|16 Craig Noone||Conor Doyle 14|
|13 Kim Bo-Kyung||Mason Bennett 20|
|15 Rudy Gestede|
|20 Joel Mason|
|Craig Noone for Tommy Smith (72)||Michael Jacobs for Craig Forsyth (71)|
|Joel Mason for Heidar Helguson (76)|
|Rudy Gestede for Craig Conway (84)|
|Aron Gunnarsson (19)||Valentin Gjokaj (13)|
|Tommy Smith (59)||Paul Coutts (51)|
|· Squads: Cardiff City | Derby County|