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Cardiff still in Championship relegation fight after Stoke draw

22 Apr 2023 3 minute read
Cardiff City’s Sory Kaba has a penalty saved by Stoke City goalkeeper Jack Bonham. Photo Photo David Davies. PA Images

Cardiff remain very much part of the Sky Bet Championship relegation mix after only managing a 1-1 draw at home against Stoke City.

Striker Sory Kaba went from hero to villain for the Bluebirds, grabbing a 29th-minute equaliser after Stoke had gone ahead through Josh Laurent, only to fail with a second-half penalty brilliantly saved by Jack Bonham.

Victory would have seen Sabri Lamouchi’s Cardiff take a giant stride towards safety after a 3-1 midweek win at Watford.

Instead, while others are worse off in the table, the Welsh club are still far too close to the drop zone for comfort, with three games remaining.

The Potters were rewarded for a superior opening 15 minutes during which they passed the ball better and showed far more attacking intent than their hosts.

A 16th-minute corner swung in by Will Smallbone was met by midfielder Laurent, who glanced a header inside Cardiff goalkeeper Ryan Allsop’s far post.

It was a dreadful concession from the Bluebirds’ perspective, non-existent defensive alertness offering Laurent all the space he needed to direct his effort into the net.

Dismal start

And it was a passage of play that epitomised another dismal start to a home encounter by Lamouchi’s men, who were awful in front of their own fans in a 1-0 defeat to Sunderland a week earlier.

Yet just before the half-hour mark, Cardiff were level, with Guinean striker Kaba once again on target.

Stoke were equally inept defensively for the equaliser as Cardiff had been in going behind, with Kaba allowed to latch onto a hopeful through ball and slot home unchallenged beneath the body of goalkeeper Bonham for his eight goal in 14 outings since joining on loan from Danish club Midtjylland in January.

It was a lifeline few would have seen coming, but still the Potters dictated the tempo, largely penning Cardiff in their own half and limiting them to counter-attacks.

Lamouchi would have taken the half-time score, if not the first-half performance, but considering the amount at stake there was a desperate lack of spark among his players – and consequently the Cardiff City Stadium atmosphere.

Attacking duo Jadon Philogene and Mark Harris were introduced off the Cardiff bench on the hour mark, with no breakthrough looking imminent at either end and a lack of energy and creativity among both sides.

The change looked like reaping instant dividends for the Bluebirds when, in the 61st minute, Philogene won a penalty after being chopped down by Connor Taylor as he raced towards the by-line.

There were no complaints from Taylor or his team mates, but when Kaba stepped up from 12 yards his low effort was brilliantly saved by Bonham to his left.

Sensing – belatedly – the critical importance of three points, Cardiff pressed forward for much of the last quarter of the game.

But they lacked the quality to fashion clear-cut chances and their quest to preserve their Championship status may now go right to the final weekend.

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