Town’s search for a first Sky Bet Championship win of the 2015/16 season continues after today’s two goal defeat against hosts Cardiff City.
A brace of goals for the Bluebirds with around 20 minutes left condemned the Terriers to defeat, who defended fairly well at times but failed to test goalkeeper David Marshall at all throughout the 90 minutes.
A much-changed Town XI took the field at the Cardiff City Stadium, with debuts for goalkeeper Jed Steer, centre back Elliott Ward and attacker Jamie Paterson in place of Joe Murphy (calf), Mark Hudson (ankle) and the departed Jacob Butterfield.
Martin Cranie also came in for Jason Davidson following the Australian’s international duty earlier in the week, with Tommy Smith switching to left back, whilst Harry Bunn replaced Ishmael Miller to accommodate a switch to a 4-2-3-1 formation.
In Hudson’s absence, summer recruit Dean Whitehead captained the side on his 500th league appearance.
As early as the third minute, Steer was forced into action. Cardiff’s number 10 Joe Mason was lively and broke past the defence; when Ward got a foot to the ball, it only diverted it to striker Kenwyne Jones and the big man’s 20 yard drive had to be pushed away by the Aston Villa loanee.
At the other end, Bunn’s trademark drives infield off the left flank caused Cardiff some restless moments but it was on the other flank that Town’s players created their best attacking move of open play in the 20th minute. Paterson – playing in the number 10 slot – combined with Wells and the Bermudian played the ball in behind the left back to set Sean Scannell away. He drew the goalkeeper before slipping the ball square into the six yard box, but a covering defender scrambled it to safety.
Town top scorer Wells had a shot expertly blocked by centre half Matthew Connolly five minutes later, but chances at goal were few and far between for both sides thanks to compact defensive shapes and it took until the final minute of the first half for either goalkeeper to be forced into a save; Steer easily dealing with a weak side-footed effort from Scott Malone.
In the first minute of the three added at the end of the first 45, Joel Lynch had a very presentable chance. When Scannell was brought down on the right, Paterson trotted across and delivered a free kick towards the near post that the Welsh international flicked wide of the far stick with his head. He perhaps should have done better, and his reaction indicated he knew it.
Town started well in the second half, with former Town man Sean Morrison required to block a shot from Bunn after he drive into the area once again, but gradually Cardiff worked back into the game.
Jones finally got the better of Lynch in the 57th minute and should have done better with the opportunity. After spinning past the final defender, the striker rather rushed his shot and placed a tame effort well within the reach of Steer with the defence beaten.
Jones was soon replaced by Sammy Ameobi and the Newcastle United loanee immediately gave the Terriers different problems with his direct dribbling.
Whittingham went inches away from another long range strike against Town in the 65th minute, striking mere inches wide of Steer’s right hand post from range.
Bunn was then denied a penalty at the other end after going down with Morrison in close attendance.
Things then started to unravel for Town, with Cardiff striking twice in quick succession. The first goal came in the 69th minute; Ameobi got involved on the Town right and rolled the ball back into the area for Anthony Pilkington; the former Town man pinned a defender and managed to turn towards goal before reversing a neat shot into the far corner that gave Steer no chance.
Chris Powell threw on Ishmael Miller and Muzzy Carayol to try and find an equaliser, but instead Cardiff got the second when a ball through the middle of the defence set strikers Mason and Ameobi clear. Steer tried to come out and clear in a last ditch effort, but Ameobi knocked the ball sideways for his teammate to tap into the empty net. Referee Paul Tierney went over to his assistant to seemingly check on the offside after the goal, but the goal stood.
Town’s team (4-2-3-1):
Jed Steer; Tommy Smith, Joel Lynch, Elliott Ward, Martin Cranie; Dean Whitehead (c), Jonathan Hogg (Emyr Huws, 64); Harry Bunn (Mustapha Carayol, 72), Jamie Paterson (Ishmael Miller, 72), Sean Scannell; Nahki Wells
Lloyd Allinson, Jason Davidson, Joe Lolley, Kyle Dempsey
Jonathan Hogg (16)