Preview: Cardiff City (A)

Report - Cardiff City 1-1 Wanderers

Chris Eagles’ eleventh goal of the campaign secured Wanderers a hard fought point at champions Cardiff City.

The Whites led when Eagles calmly dispatched the ball past David Marshall in the 18th minute but the Bluebirds rescued a point midway through the second half when substitute Craig Noone hit the back of the net with a curling free-kick to ensure the score finished 1-1.

Wanderers will now head back to the Reebok for their final game of the season against Blackpool and will be in high spirits after a courageous performance against City, who boast the best home form in the Championship.

Wanderers made one change for the trip to the Welsh capital, midfielder Josh Vela stepping in for frontman Craig Davies. 

Likewise Cardiff City made one change for their final home game of the season, Matthew Connolly replacing Leon Barnett after the defender was recalled by parent club Norwich City.

Before kick-off, Dougie Freedman’s squad honourably gave the champions a guard of honour after the Bluebirds were confirmed as npower Championship winners last weekend at Burnley.

With the game only 40 seconds old, Hungarian international Adam Bogdan prevented the City supporters from starting their party early with wonderful save from point blank range, denying striker Jordon Mutch.

In the 11th minute, Bogdan was again called into action collecting livewire Kim Bo-Kyung’s free-kick from 25-yards.

Seven minutes later, Bolton hit the Bluebirds against the run of play to take the lead at the home of the champions.

Winger Eagles, who scored Wanderers’ opener against Middlesbrough last weekend, started the visitors move with an elegant chip over the head of Andrew Taylor to team mate Sam Ricketts down the right by-line.

Welsh international Ricketts cut back and returned possession to Eagles inside the penalty area and Bolton’s number seven swept the ball past David Marshall to the jubilation of the travelling support.

Former Swansea man Darren Pratley was presented a golden chance to double Wanderers’ lead on the half hour mark.

Bursting down the left flank, Eagles diverted an early low cross into the penalty box falling kindly at Pratley’s feet, but the midfielder was deprived of his second successive away goal by Cardiff custodian Marshall.

The hosts’ threat was coming from the right wing through captain Craig Bellamy, with the former Liverpool and West Ham man putting a couple of testing crosses into the danger area.

Into the second half, and the Bolton defence continued to stand strong by halting any Cardiff City attack, with the Whites looking dangerous on the counter attack.

With 63 minutes gone, Freedman made his first change, Marvin Sordell replaced by Welsh international Davies; with the Dragons’ national boss Chris Coleman curiously watching on from the stands.

But Cardiff continued to maintain the pressure and substitute Tommy Smith; with the goal gaping was denied by the heroics of Bogdan with a tremendous save down to his right.

City’s other substitute however, Noon, did find a way past Bogdan with 23 minutes to level proceedings at the Cardiff City Stadium.

Winning a free-kick on the edge of the penalty area, Noone curled a left footed strike over the wall into the far corner for his seventh of the campaign.

Wanderers were nearly gifted a goal with five minutes remaining after a back pass from Ben Turner to his goalkeeper was under hit. Steaming in, Pratley charged towards Marshall but Cardiff’s number one managed to scramble the ball away for a throw in.

From the resulting throw, defender Ricketts launched the ball into the danger area for Davies to rifle an ambitious effort inches wide of the post.

In stoppage time, Wanderers made their second change, Vela replaced after a fearless performance in the heart of midfield, Stuart Holden coming on for his first appearance back in a White shirt since his loan spell at Sheffield Wednesday.

Holden’s first contribution to the game was to clear a dangerous corner to the front post. The full time whistled followed two minutes later with Bolton heading back to the Reebok with a well-earned point. 

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