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Cardiff City

Who were the three stand-out performers in Cardiff’s cup win over Portsmouth?

Philip Marsh

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Cardiff

Cardiff City booked their place in the second round of the Carabao Cup with an extra-time win over League One outfit Portsmouth.

The Bluebirds didn’t make things easy and found themselves a goal down at the break after captain Steve Morrison turned the ball into his own net.

In the second half, the home side were much improved and it took them less than five minutes to draw level.

Portsmouth did not drop their heads though. Kenny Jackett’s side matched the Championship outfit but could not find the same openings their opponents did.

Greg Halford’s late goal was enough to secure safe passage for the much-changed Cardiff side and avoid a penalty shootout.

Neil Warnock will have been disappointed it took extra-time to see off lower league opposition. First-team players Steve Morrison, Bruno Manga and Lee Tomlin will all need that little bit more recovery time as a result.

However, he will not be disappointed with the performances shown by some of the Bluebirds’ fringe players.

Matthew Kennedy

Matthew Kennedy was the game’s best player. His top-class performance will make Warnock think twice about sending the midfielder out on loan again.

Since his arrival in South Wales, the former Everton player has not had many chances to impress. Last season he was loaned out to Plymouth where he helped the Pilgrims secure promotion, alongside Portsmouth and Doncaster.

From the left, Kennedy caused Portsmouth’s defenders a whole host of problems, especially in the second half as he and Jazz Richards linked up beautifully.

His determination was epitomised by his run which led to Cardiff’s first goal. A loose ball looked destined to go out for a throw-in but Kennedy had other plans.

Not only did he keep the ball in play but he beat two defenders before squaring the ball to Nathaniel Mendez-Laing for the simplest of finishes.

He could have added his name to the scoresheet as well if it weren’t for a great save for Luke McGee in the Portsmouth goal and a missed header.

With extra-time looming, Warnock replaced Kennedy with Junior Hoilett, the standing ovation from the Cardiff fans said everything about the youngster’s performance.

It won’t come as a surprise to Bluebirds fans to see his name in the squad for upcoming matches, and if he continues to impress he could find himself in the starting eleven before long.

Loic Damour

Summer signing Loic Damour was unknown to the vast majority of Cardiff City fans, and his arrival raised a few questions marks.

Those doubts were well and truly put to bed after Tuesday night. Damour, whose style of play is likened to N’golo Kante, dominated the midfield from start to finish.

The Frenchman looked as comfortable going forward as he did when defending. His vision helped create numerous chances whilst his ability to read the game cut out attack after attack.

What was perhaps most impressive about his performance was how visibly comfortable he was with the ball at his feet.

Damour never rushed a decision and at times, it seemed, every single pass found its target. That surety in possession is something few players at Cardiff currently possess.

Joe Ralls and Aron Gunnarsson appear to be Warnock’s first choice centre-midfielder partnership this season. However, Damour, as he proved with his assist against Burton, will be extremely important from the bench.

Against Portsmouth, if it weren’t for Kennedy’s performance, Damour would have been man of the match.

Nathaniel Mendez-Laing

Another new recruit, Mendez-Laing, was the touch of inspiration Cardiff needed on Tuesday night.

Warnock opted to start Anthony Pilkington ahead of the former Rochdale player but substituted the Irishman at half time.

Mendez-Laing’s impact was almost instant. Within five minutes he had leveled the score and was a handful for the Pompey defence all night.

Despite his height and powerful physique, the winger has blistering acceleration and made the opposition look snail-paced at times.

On another day he could have had a hat-trick in the second half alone but good last-ditch defender prevented him from taking home the match ball.

Like Kennedy and Damour, Mendez-Laing will have a role to play for Cardiff this season. If the Bluebirds are to challenge for a play-off spot, all three will need to continue to impress throughout the next ten months.

Philip is a Computer Science graduate with a Masters in Journalism. He supports his home-town club Cardiff City but enjoys watching any game he can. You can find Philip on Twitter @PhilipTSMarsh.

Burton Albion

Burton Albion vs Cardiff City: Championship match preview, predicted line-ups and score prediction

Philip Marsh

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Cardiff

Burton Albion start their second successive Championship campaign by welcoming Neil Warnock’s Cardiff City to the Pirelli Stadium.

The Brewers likely face a difficult season ahead, with many predicting them to go down. Unlike Burton, the visitors are fancied to finish mid-table with a play-off spot a possibility.

Last season, Albion avoided relegation by a single point whilst the Bluebirds finished 10th. However Cardiff’s respectable finish did not look likely at the start of last season.

In fact, this fixture last season was Paul Trollope’s last as Cardiff’s head coach. The Brewers won 2-0 which left the South Wales side in 23rd place with just 8 points from 11 games.

Almost a year on and Cardiff appear to have regained some spirit. A strong end to last season coupled with a good preseason has left Bluebirds fans optimistic for the season ahead.

For Burton, avoiding relegation last season was a great confidence boost and one to build on that this season. Plus, victory over Leicester City on Tuesday in their final friendly was the perfect way to enter the new season.

Both sides will be eager to make a positive start, and work out their strongest elevens.

Preseason 

As mentioned, Burton capped off their preseason with victory over Leicester but it wasn’t all plain sailing. The Brewers suffered defeats to Rochester, AFC Wimbledon, Shrewsbury and West Brom in July.

However, there were wins against non-league sides Kidsgrove Athletic, Middleover Sports, Solihull Moors and a 9-0 thrashing of Arnold Town. None of those will have been as valuable or morale boosting though as their 2-1 win against Leicester.

Cardiff won their first preseason game against Welsh Football League Division One side Taffs Well before travelling to Cornwall. There they brushed aside Tavistock and Bodmin Town before edging out Plymouth at home park.

Cardiff also tasted defeat at the hands of Shrewsbury, before they rounded off preseason with a 4-0 win against Livingston.

Team News

Burton have added a number of players to their squad this summer including Stephen Warnock, Jake Buxton and Hope Akpan. Those three are available to make their competitive debut.

Unfortunately for the Brewers, record signing Liam Boyce is set to miss the majority of the season. The striker, who signed from Ross County, ruptured an ACL during preseason.

Most of Cardiff’s summer signings are available with the exception of Callum Paterson and Lee Camp, who remains an doubt. Other signings Lee Tomlin, Danny Ward and Nathaniel Mendez-Laing will all be hoping to start the opener.

Predicted Line-ups

It’s hard to say what Clough and Warnock have made of the respective squads during preseason. Both sides fielded different teams for each game, the Bluebirds often changing the entire team at half time.

Neither side will be concerned by their upcoming EFL Cup games as both managers know a strong start in the league is far more valuable. As a result, you can expect to see what the manager’s believe to be the strongest side available to them.

Score Prediction: Burton Albion 0-1 Cardiff City

If Burton proved anything last season it was they’re not an easy side to break down. They didn’t play glamorous football but they picked up points, especially at home, where it counted.

The last time the Bluebirds travelling to the Pirelli Stadium, Trollope was hoping for a ‘Get out of jail free’ card, but instead he was shown the door. Warnock, a far more experienced manager, will expect no such thing.

That being said, Cardiff’s new recruit Lee Tomlin is a player who can find gaps others simply do not see. His vision is the perfect tool for Cardiff to get the best from Kenneth Zohore. The young Danish striker was one of the division’s most prolific goal scorers in the second half of last season and will be a handful for the Brewers’ defence.

If Burton’s defenders can keep Cardiff quiet, it’ll be up to Akins and Sordell at the other end. They too will face a tight Cardiff defence which many teams will struggle to break down this season.

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Brighton and Hove Albion

Is Cardiff’s Kenneth Zohore good enough for the Premier League with Brighton and Hove Albion?

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Chris Hughton and Brighton & Hove Albion have enjoyed a fine start to their preparations for life in the Premier League on the field, recording three convincing friendly victories to date.

Off the field, The Sun say that they are interested in Cardiff striker Kenneth Zohore and may make a move for the Danish striker before the season kicks off in mid-August.

What would he bring to the Amex?

The Denmark under 21 international scored 12 goals in 30 games in the Championship last season and made a name for himself as a clinical finisher.

The kind of striker who does not need more than one opportunity to find the back of the net, he could work well alongside Glenn Murray up-front.

What Zohore lacks in physicality, and at times, work rate, Murray could comfortably make up for. Zohore would instead bring pace and movement.

His short flick ons and runs offering a different aspect to the Seagull’s attacking set-up.

Is a move likely?

The report in the Sun is quite vague and does not go beyond claiming that Chris Hughton is interested in the striker.

It is quite easy to imagine that he is interested, but to make a bid he may have to go some way beyond mere interest.

Cardiff have already rejected two bids from Hull City for the 23-year-old and so are clearly reluctant to sell.

Neil Warnock is building a strong side around the striker and does not want to give up one of his key players before the season even starts.

Brighton should have the resources to make an attractive proposition, especially given the opportunity to play top flight football.

They are looking out for a striker, too, so it may not be just wild speculation.

Kenneth Zohore to Brighton and Hove Albion
3
Transfer Likelihood
The Boot Room's Verdict
If Brighton do make a move for Zohore, a deal could be possible. They should have the finances to test Cardiff's resolve and are on the lookout for a striker of his mould.
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Bristol City

Three things we learnt from Cardiff City 2-1 victory over Bristol City

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Cardiff City made a winning start to life under Neil Warnock with a 2-1 Severnside derby win over Bristol City in front of the Sky TV cameras on Friday night. The form book was torn up as Peter Whittingham’s first half penalty and Sol Bamba’s debut goal gave Cardiff an unassailable two goal lead.

The visitors responded with a fine goal from Lee Tomlin, and Bobby Reid will feel he could have salvaged a point for the travelling Bristolians, but he missed from close range in the last few minutes. The result dragged Cardiff out of the bottom three on the night, and meant that Bristol City could not gain any ground on the top sides.

Here are three things we learnt from Cardiff City vs Bristol City:

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The “Warnock effect” exists

As I somewhat prophetically predicted in my preview of the game the appointment of Neil Warnock had an enormous impact on the game. If Paul Trollope was still in charge, one could argue, without too much of a challenge, Bristol City would have won the game. However, he isn’t and they didn’t.

Warnock has only had the job for a matter of days, but already looks to have had a huge influence on the way Cardiff play. The Bluebirds looked defensively solid, with the signing of Sol Bamba seemingly inspired. The former Leeds man scored and kept teenage hotshot Tammy Abraham quiet all evening.

A very competent defensive display all round, which I am attributing to the “Warnock effect”.

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Bristol City are not the finished article quite yet

One defeat will not de-rail Lee Johnson’s and Bristol City’s season. However, this game was a whispered reminder that they are in a very competitive league and you simply cannot turn up and expect to win – especially away from home in a derby. Bristol City have a very talented, young squad.

However, that lack of big game experience, at this level, did show last night, as the occasion clearly got to some of the players, and they did not do themselves justice. No doubt this will be a good learning curve for some of the players in the City ranks, and they will bounce back stronger from this. Bristol City are not quite the finished article yet, but if they learn from games like this they will go a long way towards becoming the finished article.

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Tammy Abraham is human after all

I know it seems incredulous, but the 19 year old actually didn’t score last night. Nor did he have a particularly good game as he seemed ‘in the pocket’ of Sol Bamba. I do not want to appear overly critical of the young on-loan Chelsea forward, in fact I, like many others, believe the Londoner has a bright future in the game.

After scoring twice earlier this week for England U21s (bringing his total number of goals scored this season to 13 in 16 games) Abraham looked a little off the pace at the Cardiff City Stadium. This is understandable, considering the amount of minutes he has played recently without a sustained break, compounded by an illness he was suffering from according to Lee Johnson.

Bristol City (and Chelsea) fans will be hoping this experience of playing against a big strong bruising centre half like Sol Bamba will be one that can only improve the young striker. So far at least, his Championship experience has been great for his development.

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