TWO defeats in a week have dampened spirits at Cardiff City and temporarily halted the club’s revival under new boss Neil Warnock.
After seven points out of a possible nine – with victories against Bristol City and Nottingham Forest, plus a draw with Sheffield Wednesday – fans were talking of a play-off push.
But back-to-back defeats against lowly Wigan and leaders Newcastle have brought a sudden halt to City’s momentum.
So far this season, Newcastle have not lost a game when taking the lead. Despite knowing a good defensive performance would be key, poor defending in the first 15 minutes saw Newcastle race into a 2-0 lead.
Warnock’s managerial career has rarely seen his teams play elegant, attractive football, but his teams are notoriously hard to break down and score against. Not so in the first half on Saturday.
Whatever the manager said to the players at half time certainly had an impact after the break. Cardiff had the better of the second half, but it required inspiration from the bench to give the Bluebirds any hope.
Three substitutions in three minutes saw Peter Whittingham, Marouane Chamakh and Kadeem Harris take to the field and within two minutes of their arrival, Cardiff scored.
Two missed opportunities and a penalty shout later the game was over, but Cardiff will take some inspiration from their spirited second half performance against the league’s best team.
With City now just one point above the relegation zone, Warnock will view the next games against Huddersfield and Aston Villa as opportunities to ensure the Bluebirds don’t drop back into the bottom three.
The international break this weekend should give Warnock and Cardiff the ability to regroup
A home game against Huddersfield is a far tougher fixture this season than in the past. The Terriers are third and have only failed to score in three games this season, compared to Cardiff’s nine goalless performances.
A glimmer of hope for Cardiff will come from Huddersfield’s recent dip in form. Huddersfield have lost three of the last five fixtures, including a 5-0 thumping at the hands of Fulham.
After the home game against Huddersfield, Cardiff face a tough away trip to face Aston Villa, where the home team are unbeaten this season..
Three victories and five draws have made Villa Park a very difficult away trip, but should Cardiff beat Huddersfield they will travel to Birmingham buoyed with confidence once again.