THE Bluebirds head to Mansfield Town for an FA Cup third round replay tomorrow having beaten a struggling Sunderland side at the weekend.
Goals from Joe Ralls, Anthony Pilkington and two from Callum Paterson gave Cardiff a 4-0 home win.
The score was all square at the break but an outstanding second half performance gave the Bluebirds a much needed win. 45 seconds into the second half a Paterson header gave the hosts a 1-0 lead, despite replays suggesting it looked offside.
Sunderland’s start to the second half went from bad to worse as Didier Ndong was sent off for a studs-up challenge on Junior Hoilett.
With an extra man Cardiff did not sit back. Man-of-the-match Ralls got on the end of a Kenneth Zohore cross to cap off a wonderful team effort for Cardiff’s second. Sunderland had a chance up the other end as Jake Clarke-Salter hit the crossbar but Sol Bamba managed to clear the rebound.
Paterson claimed his second of the afternoon and the team’s third when a Ralls free kick fell to his feet. Cardiff’s outstanding performance finished with a stoppage time goal as debutant Yanic Wildschut set up Pilkington who slotted it home from close range.
The Bluebirds have been riddled with injuries in recent weeks and Paterson was one a few players who has had to play out of position. The right back, who has recently played in midfield for Warnock said: “I’ve enjoyed playing central midfield, I’ve played it before.
“Hopefully this can be the kick start we need to get us back to where we need to be.”
This was Chris Coleman’s first return to Wales since leaving his job as head coach of the national team and fans gave him a warm reception. After nine attempts Coleman is still yet to get a win under his belt in Wales whilst managing an English club.
The win for the Bluebirds will please fans as they push for a return back into the automatic promotion places.
Bluebirds manager Neil Warnock said: “We have looked a little bit lethargic over Christmas and it’s nice to get back to winning ways.”
Fans will hope that the Bluebirds can reproduce this form in the cup on Tuesday.
Discussing squad rotation for the trip to Field Mill Warnock said: “We want to win the tie. We had very little option in the first game.
“The team on Tuesday will be as strong as I could pick. We will look at the players, the games coming up and the travelling, but we want to get through.
“It will be a tough game; they are capable of beating us.”
Mansfield are unbeaten in their last five league games and drew away to Cambridge United at the weekend. They will go into Tuesday’s game hungry for that spot in the fourth round – especially as the winner will play Premier League leaders Manchester City at home.
Last time around the League Two playoff hopefuls forced a replay when the match ended goalless.
Both sides had their chances to take the lead with the Bluebirds pressing early forcing several saves from The Stags goalkeeper Conrad Logan. Mansfield pressed in the second half and twice came close to taking the lead but neither side managed to clinch it.
The winner will host Manchester City in the fourth round on January 28 at 4pm.
- The Bluebirds got their first win in five at the weekend.
- The Bluebirds last reached the FA Cup final in 2008.
- There have been 35 previous meetings between the sides. The Bluebirds have won 19, drawn 10 and lost 6.
- The Stags could reach the fourth round for the first time since 2008 if they overcome the Bluebirds on Tuesday.