Cardiff City have made a decent start to their first season in the Premier League. A disappointing opening day defeat at West ham was followed by that barnstorming win over the mighty Manchester City and creditable draws against Everton and Hull, before Tottenham hit them with a sucker punch to take all three points. That result could easily have had a demoralising effect on the team, especially when followed by a midweek League Cup defeat by those troublesome Hammers.
Consequently, there was a lot riding on the trip to Fulham last weekend. With the Londoners struggling for form and Martin Jol under pressure, many City fans marked this one down as eminently winnable. But it was never going to be an easy game. For all their frailties, Fulham are an established Premier League club boasting a team peppered with seasoned internationals. But on a day when Manchester United and Manchester City both lose, which doesn’t happen often, there was just something in the air. Every club seemed determined to prove that the Premier League is still the best league in the world. Cardiff City started the afternoon as underdogs with the odds stacked firmly against them, as is so often the case this season. Their last away win in top flight football was as long ago as November 1961. Weirdly enough, that result came against Fulham at Craven Cottage.
The two sides traded blows in the first half, Bryan Ruiz cancelling out Steven Caulker’s early header with a fantastic effort from outside the area. But with the score tied at 1-1 and the game trundling toward a seemingly inevitable draw, Malky Mackay brought on defensive midfielder Jordon Mutch, who has never scored for Cardiff in his twenty-odd games. As the clock ticked into injury time, he controlled the ball from a goal kick, turned, looked up, and unleashed a cracking drive that flew across the goalkeeper and crashed into the net from about 25 yards (which will surely become 35 yards when the 3500 travelling fans tell their kids about it). These are the kinds of scripts you just can’t write.
And so it continues. Next up was Newcastle at the Cardiff City stadium. The Magpies have had a mixed season so far, and won just three of their last 23 away games. By contrast, City have been strong at home in recent times, losing just three of the last 26 games at CCS. So, wouldn’t you just know it that by half time City were 2-0 down thanks to a brace by Loic Remy? They came back strong and scored in the second half through Peter Odemwingie, his first strike since his move from West Brom, and had a few chances to pull level, but just couldn’t put the ball in the net a second time. Coincidentally or otherwise, again the momentum turned in City’s favour after the introduction of Jordon Mutch from the subs bench. The way he’s playing, he’ll surely be in the starting line-up sooner rather than later.
So, as we press pause in order to accommodate the international break, City lie in 13th place with two wins, two draws and three defeats. I think, at the start of the season, most City fans would have settled for that.
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