The Cardiffian takes a look at Cardiff City’s remaining fixtures in the chase for the play-offs
FOLLOWING an eventful 2-2 draw with Brentford last weekend Cardiff now sit five points off the play-offs with just 10 games to go.
Those games are split evenly with five away and five at home. They also face four of the top eight sides – who are also battling for the play-offs and promotion.
The Bluebirds will look to make their home form, having only lost twice at Cardiff City Stadium all season.
Last season Derby County finished sixth with 74 points – to reach that total the Bluebirds would need to win at least seven of their last 10.
With the season reaching crunch time, let’s run down the fixtures which will define the City’s campaign.
Barnsley (A) – 07.03.20
The Bluebirds travel to Yorkshire on Saturday in what could be a must win game against relegation-threatened Barnsley.
Despite sitting second from bottom and five points from safety the Tykes are in decent form having won three of their last four.
Elsewhere on Saturday rivals Swansea host leaders West Brom, while fellow play-off chasers Bristol City face third place Fulham.
The side one place above City, Millwall have a tough test this weekend travelling to the City Ground to face fourth place Nottingham Forest on Friday night.
The other two sides around Cardiff both have easier fixtures, with Blackburn Rovers facing Derby County and Preston North End facing QPR.
This gives the Bluebirds a perfect opportunity to close the gap on sixth place if they can get a win at Oakwell.
Leeds United (H) – 13.03.20
Next Sunday the Bluebirds host promotion hopefuls Leeds United.
Marcelo Bielsa’s men will prove a stern test for Cardiff’s play-off ambitions but Neil Harris will take heart from the reverse fixture where his side came back from 3-0 down to grab a 3-3 draw at Elland Road.
With the game on Sunday afternoon, the Bluebirds will hope to capitalise on any slip ups from their rivals on the Saturday as Blackburn face Bristol City, Preston travel to Luton, Millwall host Derby and Swansea tackle Middlesbrough.
Preston North End (A) – 18.03.20
The following Wednesday Cardiff travel to Lancashire for a crucial clash against Preston.
The Lilywhites currently occupy the last play-off place, sitting in sixth with 56 points – five ahead of the Bluebirds.
Alex Neil’s side have exceeded expectations this season but have stalled in recent weeks through losses to West Brom and Fulham.
Depending on results against Barnsley and Leeds, this could be the make or break game for Cardiff’s top six hopes.
Charlton Athletic (H) – 21.03.20
After the Preston game the Bluebirds host Charlton, looking for nothing but three points against the Championship strugglers.
The reverse fixture was Neil Harris’ first in charge – a 2-2 draw after coming back from a 2-0 half-time deficit.
Bristol City travel to Nottingham Forest while Swansea go to Millwall, with the Bluebirds hoping to capitalise on any slip ups elsewhere.
Bristol City (A) – 04.04.20
On Saturday April 4th there is more than just play-off desires on the line – there’s also bragging rights in the Severnside derby.
Cardiff will be hoping to avenge the 1-0 defeat to the Robins earlier in the season, which was also Neil Warnock’s last game in charge of the Bluebirds.
Anthon Pilkington scored a late winner the last time Cardiff won at Ashton Gate – a 3-2 victory in January 2017.
This game marks the start of a tough run of fixtures against teams also competing for promotion.
Blackburn Rovers (H) – 10.04.20
The games against fellow play-off chasing teams come thick and fast as Cardiff host Blackburn less than a week after the trip to Bristol.
Rovers are another side to have exceeded expectations this season, currently finding themselves in eighth place – three points off sixth and two ahead of the Bluebirds in 11th.
Tony Mowbray’s side suffered a blow with injury to talisman Bradley Dack but still have firepower through the in form Adam Armstrong who has 11 goals and six assists this campaign.
Fulham (A) – 14.04.20
The fixtures keep getting tougher for City over the Easter period as they travel to Craven Cottage on a Tuesday night.
Fulham, who were relegated from the Premier League with Cardiff last season, were many pundits’ tip for an immediate return but haven’t quite fulfilled their pre-season expectations.
They currently sit third, five points off Leeds United in second and boast the league’s top scorer in Aleksandar Mitrovic, meaning Cardiff will have to be at their very best to come away from west London with a result.
Derby County (H) – 18.04.20
Four days after the trip to Fulham, Cardiff return to South Wales to host Derby County.
The Rams lost in the play-off final last season but haven’t been able to build on last season’s success.
The introduction of Wayne Rooney in January has seen an upturn in form for the east Midlands’ side, who have clawed themselves away from the danger of the drop and safely into mid-table.
Middlesbrough (A) – 25.04.20
The penultimate game of the season sees Cardiff travel to Teesside for a clash against struggling Middlesbrough.
Boro have been a surprise package this season under new manager Jonathan Woodgate – but for all the wrong reasons.
Woodgate’s side are in a relegation fight and are currently in the bottom three, just one point from safety – a prime opportunity for a Bluebirds win as the campaign draws to a close.
Hull City (H) – 02.05.20
The final game of the season sees all Championship games kick off at 12.30 on Saturday May 2.
The Bluebirds will be hoping they have done enough in the previous nine games to still be within a shot of the top six by the time the Tigers come to town.
Grant McCann’s side have underwhelmed this season and will be lacking in firepower due to the loss of top scorer Jarrod Bowen, who moved to West Ham in January.
Also on the final day Bristol host Preston, Blackburn travel to Luton Town while Swansea face a trip to Reading.