CARDIFF 3 TOWN 1
The performance was much-improved from the season-opening defeat to Bournemouth, but unfortunately the end result was the same as Town were defeated at Cardiff City in their first away game of the 2014/15 Championship season.
Despite a decent performance, sloppy pieces of play saw Town go two goals down before defender Murray Wallace got a deserved first of the season just before the interval.
Unfortunately the next goal went Cardiff’s way, which settled the game in favour of the newly relegated Premier League outfit.
Town, sporting the new yellow third strip for the first time, also employed a new formation for the game. Conor Coady – making his first Championship start for the Club – sat at the base of a midfield diamond, with Radi Majewski at the other end.
The new-look midfield, including debutant Jacob Butterfield and the recalled Jonathan Hogg, looked great in possession during the first-half and created some good chances – but the Terriers were still two goals down.
Lillis’ side had the first genuine chance of the half after 20 minutes after Wells won possession from the hosts high up the pitch. Butterfield squared to Majewski, but the Polish international snatched at his shot and pulled the ball wide of target from 20 yards.
Six minutes later Cardiff fought back, with the speedy Norwegian Matts Moller Daehli – who had an entertaining battle with Tommy Smith – found space inside the area and delivered a low cross, which striker Kenwyne Jones somehow managed to miss in the six yard box.
Instead the first goal was a stunner. Peter Whittingham has a reputation for long range strikes and Town soon found out why; he found a pocket of space over 25 yards out in the 28th minute and pulled the trigger, finding the bottom left corner of Alex Smithies’ net to put the Bluebirds in front.
Smith soon delivered a deep cross that Jon Stead headed wide under pressure at the back post – just before Town went two goals down. Right back John Brayford’s cross went over skipper Joel Lynch and fell to Jones’ feet, whose snapshot was excellently saved by Smithies. However, Jones recovered and somehow bundled the ball over the line via a deflection.
A two goal deficit was harsh on Town, but the players kept their shape and bosses possession for the rest of the half. Majewski lifted another shot wide of the goal after good play from Dixon and Wells before the goal came from a corner, won by the Bermudian striker.
Murray Wallace, alongside Lynch with Club Captain Lee Peltier sidelined with a groin problem, attacked Butterfield’s corner well and when the ball fell to him in the area, he sent a solid right-footed effort through a crowd and into the net – sending the Town fans in the corner of the ground into raptures.
Sadly Cardiff restored their two goal lead just over 10 minutes into the half. Midfielder Tom Adeyemi was afforded too much space in the middle and although Wallace blocked his shot, the rebound fell to Daehli in the area. He slid the ball right to Jones, who steadied himself before firing past Smithies, high into the net, from 12 yards out.
Lillis switched his side to a more orthodox 4-4-2 just after the hour mark, with Hammill and Ward coming on as the side searched for goals.
Ward and Wells hit speculative shots that were never a true danger to Marshall’s goal before the Bermudian drilled the ball against the outside of the post from a narrow angle after good work from the lively Hammill.
Despite a good share of possession, superb backing from the vocal Town support and a last determined last ditch run down the dead ball line from substitute Harry Bunn that forced Marshall into a splendid reaction save, Town couldn’t repeat the midweek comeback at Chesterfield.
Town’s team (4-1-2-1-2):
Alex Smithies; Paul Dixon, Joel Lynch (c), Murray Wallace, Tommy Smith; Conor Coady; Jacob Butterfield, Jonathan Hogg (Adam Hammill, 61); Radoslaw Majewski (Danny Ward, 61); Jonathan Stead (Harry Bunn, 75), Nahki Wells
Joe Murphy, Sean Scannell, Jordan Sinnott, Matt Crooks
Jonathan Hogg (61); Murray Wallace (78); Joel Lynch (90)