After a terribly stagnated couple of weeks for the Bluebirds, emulating the form that had put them in the relegation zone at the start of the season, they were to face an in-form Norwich. The league leaders, in comparison, were flying high, impressing with professional victories over Swansea and Blackburn in the first half of the season, showing off their Premier League quality. Though a spirited second-half surge, the opportunity to ruffle the visiting Canaries’ feathers was squandered, City fell to their second defeat of the season against the Norfolk outfit, Harris’ men losing by a 2-1 scoreline.
In order to put their cup woes behind them, and searching for their first league win in a month, Cardiff would need to beat the visitors for the first time since 2018, during their promotion-winning campaign. Farke’s team had ruthlessly despatched this Cardiff team merely a fortnight prior and would be looking for more of the same, with Emiliano Buendia and Todd Cantwell in inspiring form; the former providing 14 goal contributions in 19 appearances so far this season. A more than difficult task, but not an impossible one for the men in blue.
With a defensive injury crisis currently striking the capital, the makeshift backline of Nelson & Bennett was named for the second time in as many games. Cardiff number one Alex Smithies returned in net, with Junior Hoilett replacing Josh Murphy, who was unlucky to drop to the bench after being the stand out performer against Forest in midweek. The recently recalled Tom Sang was included on the bench for the first time this season, alongside Kieffer Moore, who was returning from a hamstring injury.
Farke made 2 changes to the team that beat Barnsley, Finnish talisman Teemu Puuki withdrawing with an injury, replaced by Jordan Hugill, and Wales Under 19 goalkeeper Daniel Barden replacing the experienced Tim Krul in net, retaining his spot after an impressive outing against Coventry in the FA Cup.
From the offset, the attacking nous of City’s players threatened to show, the high-press enabling the home side to win the ball through Hoilett, who found Robert Glatzel, who excellently shifted his body to feed Harry Wilson in the Norwich area. The Welsh international’s touch, normally precise, deceived him, allowing the young Norwich keeper to gather calmly.
In typical Cardiff fashion, they were the perpetrators of their own downfall. Unable to capitalise on their chance after 20 seconds, the home side found themselves a goal down. A Mario Vrančić flick-on from a corner found Grant Hanley in space at the back post, who made no mistake nodding past Smithies.
The visitors grew increasingly dangerous after scoring, Todd Cantwell curling two efforts close of the top corner, either side of a tame Robert Glatzel effort for Cardiff.
Cardiff would’ve felt like they missed a golden opportunity to equalize, as Will Vaulks found Leandro Bacuna in acres of space down the right flank, who tried picking out City’s German forward with a low driven cross, however, it was easily gathered by Barden.
Once again, City were unable to capitalise on their opportunity. 2 minutes later, Norwich doubled their lead through Cantwell. Kenny McLean found Hugill with a crisp through ball, who was unable to beat Smithies with his strike, but the City stopper was unlucky to see the ball find the back of the net, the rebounded shot landing at the feet of Cantwell who slotted it in to the empty net.
Looking for a way back into the game, stand-in centre halve Joe Bennett found himself on the end of a dangerous Wilson cross, lashing his volley over the bar. At the other end, McLean almost headed the visitors third, nodding his effort into the side-netting.
Halftime: Cardiff City 0-2 Norwich City
Much the trend of recent Cardiff games, Harris’ men started the second half the brighter, with Will Vaulks seeing a brilliantly struck volley held by Barden.
Looking lively, City threatened again, a Hoilett effort was struck over from the edge of the box, an area he normally relishes in.
With the Canaries defence holding firm, Harris looked to implement fresh legs, introducing both Sheyi Ojo and Kieffer Moore. Inspired, the changes seemingly made the difference, with the home team finally able to capitalise on their opportunities. From their best passing phase of the game, Bacuna, Vaulks and Ralls combined excellently, before the latter lashed an effort into the bottom corner – scoring his fourth of the season.
Looking increasingly dangerous, the home side grew stronger and more confident, however any chance of a comeback were halted when on 70 minutes, Marlon Pack received his marching orders for a reckless challenge, seeing his second yellow.
With their man deficit, Cardiff struggled to break down Norwich, who threatened constantly on the break. The Bluebirds could’ve, and probably should’ve, finished more than a goal down, however Smithies remained strong, stopping efforts from Cantwell & Płacheta.
Fulltime: Cardiff City 1-2 Norwich City
This is the first time since January 2018 that Cardiff has lost 4 consecutive games in the Championship, and five losses in a row in all competitions mean that Neil Harris is under insurmountable pressure. Dependant on coming performances, and the intentions of the Cardiff board, the fans may be in for a less than savoury remainder of the season.
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