TOWN 0 CARDIFF 0
Terriers hold the league leaders to a point
Injury hit Town recorded a valuable point against league leaders Cardiff as their quest for Championship survival continued.
The Terriers – who missing Peter Clarke, Jermaine Beckford and Keith Southern – battled hard against the Championship’s top club and more than deserved their point.
Mark Lillis and Steve Eyre made two changes to the starting eleven that lost 3-0 against Derby County at Pride Park last weekend. Both Lee Novak and Peter Clarke suffered injuries in the defeat with Sean Scannell and Joel Lynch replacing the injured duo. Alex Smithies captained the side in place of Clarke for the first time in his 161st appearance for The Terriers.
Town’s 18-man squad included two former Bluebirds. Anthony Gerrard made the switch from South Wales to West Yorkshire last summer and Alan Lee being the other. Huddersfield-born Fraizer Campbell was on the bench for Cardiff.
It was Town that had the best of the early exchanges with Sean Scannell causing trouble for the Cardiff City centre-back pairing of Andrew Taylor and Mark Hudson. A great tackle by Scannell in the middle of the park on Craig Conway preceded a mazy run through a number of challenges, but his shot was deflected wide of David Marshall’s post.
After 16 minutes, it was Scannell again that was asking questions of the Bluebirds defence. Anthony Gerrard picked up a loose ball and produced a brilliant lofted ball into the box for James Vaughan who headed just wide.
The league leaders offered little in the first half that threatened Alex Smithies in the Town goal. Aron Gunnarsson’s long throw caused problems on a couple of occasions but everything was kept under control by the Town players.
On 25 minutes, Scannell broke away with the ball from a Cardiff corner and it was his pace that caused all sorts of problems for Taylor, who forced his way into Mark Brown’s notepad.
Town fans thought they had taken the lead just three minutes later when the ball was spilled from Marshall’s grasp and scrambled into the net; however the referee blew for a foul in the build up to the ball crossing the line.
On the half hour mark, it was Scannell again that was forcing problems in the Bluebirds defence. He showed his speed and trickery to avoid several tackles with Kevin McNaughton just managing to poke the ball behind for a Town corner.
Craig Bellamy showed his pace and experience in spells but failed to produce any clear-cut opportunities for the visitors. Shortly before half-time, his free-kick from 30-yards was palmed away by Smithies in the Town goal.
Matthew Connolly almost broke the deadlock in injury-time of the first half. A great volley from outside the area struck the crossbar with Smithies scrambling to try and make a save.
The second half started in a similar fashion with Town enjoying much of the possession. Scannell outmuscled Icelandic Gunnarsson in the centre of the park, before Marshall was forced into a brilliant low save to his left to poke the ball around the post for another Town corner.
Ben Nugent came on at half time to strengthen the Bluebirds defence following a head injury shortly before the break to Kevin McNaughton, but he also struggled to handle the Town attack. James Vaughan’s pace caused him problems, and he struck Vaughan in the face with his hand to earn a booking.
The best chance of the second half fell to Welshman Bellamy on the hour mark. A great through-ball caused the Town defence problems, but his left-footed shot went well wide of Smithies’ post.
City began to get more of the ball as the second half developed, and it was Craig Conway that forced Smithies into action next. His fierce strike looked like it would creep inside the post, but Smithies managed to expertly turn the ball onto the post.
Another chance came from the resulting corner. A great delivery from Bellamy met Nugent at the near post, but he couldn’t direct it on target as it narrowly missed the far post.
The visitors were showing more in second half as they continued to enjoy more and more possession. Bellamy again showed his pace down the left and played in Conway, who was denied by a great block from Oliver Norwood.
Norwood again came to the rescue with 17 minutes left as he managed to get in the way of another exchange between Bellamy and Conway.
As both sides searched for a winner with just over five minutes on the clock, Neil Danns produced a great cross for Vaughan who was denied by a brilliant last-ditch challenge by Andrew Taylor.
The visitors also had their share of chances to get a winner. Conway continued to enjoy more of the ball, but some great, strong defending from Lynch and Gerrard denied everything that was thrown at them.
Town's team (4-4-2): Alex Smithies (C); Jack Hunt, Joel Lynch, Anthony Gerrard, Calum Woods; Oliver Norwood (Chris Atkinson 86), Scott Arfield, Neil Danns, Adam Clayton; Sean Scannell, James Vaughan (Alan Lee 90)
Unused Subs: Ian Bennett, Jordan Sinnott, Matt Crooks, Murray Wallace, Paul Dixon
Bookings Town: Joel Lynch (45), Jack Hunt (90)
Bookings Cardiff City: Andrew Taylor (25), Ben Nugent (58), Craig Bellamy (90)