Cardiff City once again found themselves coming into a game in need of a response, coming in off the back of a poor 60 minutes in East London. A Coventry City side who had seemingly turned their fortunes around, with a win over Reading and a home draw against an in-form Birmingham, were looking to pick up their third home win of the season. Cardiff slumped to a 1-0 loss.
Amid growing frustrations from the Cardiff City fans, Neil Harris once again claimed the performances thus far had been “excellent”, dubbing the Bluebirds as unlucky, rather than not good enough.
Cardiff’s trepidation in defence was still proving problematic, with the ever-reliable partnership of Sean Morrison and Curtis Nelson, continuing to make mistakes. To put into perspective, the duo had only conceded eleven goals since the season restarted in June, with 5 of those coming against eventual playoff winners Fulham, a number that has already been equalled this season.
The Bluebirds came into the match as odds on favourites, with an exciting final 30 minutes against Millwall hoping to be brought into the game against the newly promoted Sky Blues.
Both sides made changes from their mid-week draws, with Josh Murphy’s second-half assist against Millwall seeing him rewarded with his first start for Harris since the away defeat to QPR. Coventry City, and Mark Robins, also made the one change, with midfield Callum O’Hare being replaced by Ryan Giles.
Cardiff’s misery was quickly looking likely to be compiled from the onset, the Sky Blues going close to breaking the deadlock twice through Jordan Shipley, first, seeing a half-volley fired over from close range, and then seeing his effort denied in a one-on-one with Alex Smithies.
Again, the hosts threatened as a Ryan Giles effort was blocked well by Cardiff captain Sean Morrison, eventually going behind for a corner. It wasn’t until the 20th minute mark that the Bluebirds came into the game, getting hold of possession in the midfield and attempting to sculpt out opportunties.
The first half chance for the visitors came in the form of a Harry Wilson set-piece, the Welshman floating in a delightful cross, which was met by a flick on from Marlon Pack to no avail, missing the head of striker Kieffer Moore by inches, and what appeared to have been a guaranteed goal.
Further close efforts by Joe Ralls, both of his shots being dragged wide of the post, saw the first half draw to a mediocre close. The Bluebirds, however, will have felt desperately unlucky not to have gone in with a goal lead. With Sky Blues defenders seeming to struggle with the set-piece threat of Cardiff, failing to deal with another dangerous Harry Wilson delivery, two Coventry defenders collided with one another, seeing the ball deflect straight into the net. The ref however disallowed the goal, rather awarding a free-kick to the hosts, and in the subsequent fervour, it was difficult to see why.
Halftime: Coventry City 0-0 Cardiff City
The second half started as the first had done, Coventry City seeming the more alert side, threatening the Cardiff defence who were void of any confidence. Smithies once again came to the rescue of the visitors, a fine save stopping Gustavo Hamer’s thundering header.
The polar confidence of both sides was clear to see, with the Sky Blues growing in stature in comparison to their opponents, who again struggled to gain any real possession. This pressure paid off, as on 55 minutes, the hosts took the lead. Tyler Walker picked up the ball after a woeful defensive clearance, calmly slotting it past the Cardiff goalkeeper. Once again, Cardiff were the masters of their own downfall.
Coventry were unlucky not to double their lead moments later, with Walker finding himself in acres of space, but narrowly putting his effort past the post. With the introduction of Sheyi Ojo and Robert Glatzel on the hour mark, Neil Harris changed his shape to a 4-4-2, looking for a leveller once again.
Cardiff’s only threat was from their set-pieces, with yet another dangerous Harry Wilson delivery finding the head of Kieffer Moore, with the striker’s downward header being held comfortably by Marko Maroši in the Coventry net. With no creation, and an obvious lack in confidence, very few opportunities came the way of the Bluebirds for the remainder of the match. Cardiff slumped to their first away defeat of the season.
Having come into the season with high confidence, off the back of their impressive promotion push, many saw Cardiff as the obvious choice for an automatic promotion place. This, now, however, seems a distant aspiration. If things are to improve, and Cardiff are to make a success of the season yet, much change is needed in both Neil Harris’ attitude, and the club’s. That has to begin against Luton Town next.
For Coventry, they will go into their next two games full of confidence and belief, a difficult away trip to Norwich, along with a game against early-strugglers Derby County.
Fulltime: Coventry City 1-0 Cardiff City
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