Cardiff 2-0 Brentford: Bluebirds keep up pressure on leaders
Last Updated: 18/11/17 7:20pm
Cardiff kept the pace with the Sky Bet Championship front-runners with a 2-0 victory over Brentford.
Joe Ralls put the Bluebirds ahead after eight minutes before a glaring miss from Neal Maupay prevented Brentford levelling just after the half-hour mark. Cardiff then went down the other end to make it 2-0 through Danny Ward as they claimed a win that keeps them four points behind Wolves, who occupy the second automatic promotion place.
The hosts, looking to get back on track following their loss at Bristol City, started well and almost took the lead at a rain-soaked Cardiff City Stadium when Bees goalkeeper Daniel Bentley failed to catch a Junior Hoilett corner, but he recovered in time to block Sol Bamba's fierce half-volley.
However, the breakthrough came moments later after Sean Morrison launched a long throw into the box. The ball fell to the feet of Ralls, who used his favoured left foot to fire into the back of the net.
Brentford almost equalised five minutes later when Yoann Barbet played in Maupay but Neil Etheridge reacted well to block his chipped shot. Barbet fired a shot over the bar himself, before a shocking miss from Maupay kept the hosts in front.
Cardiff skipper Morrison lost out to the Brentford striker after a weak pass from goalkeeper Etheridge. Instead of shooting into an open goal, Maupay took his time to dummy, before sending the ball wide of the post under pressure from Craig Bryson.
To make matters worse, Cardiff made it 2-0 in the 36th minute to all-but seal three points. Bruno Ecuele Manga intercepted the ball and charged forward, playing a one-two with Loic Damour before crossing for Ward to prod home.
Maupay had a pair of chances to get his side back in the game after his glaring first-half miss. The Frenchman sent a shot wide two minutes after the restart and then had Etheridge worried with a strike that flew just over the crossbar.
Hoilett should have put the contest to bed after Liam Feeney and Ward combined, but he failed to find the target from 10 yards out. Only Joe Bennett stopped Dean Smith's side from getting a goal back after 67 minutes as substitute Sergi Canos twice came close.
Canos first had a shot saved by Etheridge, before the ball fell to him in the box for a second attempt. But Cardiff left-back Bennett got back on the goal line to prevent the ball from hitting the back of the net, and Cardiff coasted to victory.
Neil Warnock: I can't blame anybody but lad himself for that miss. I have no sympathy at all, he's tried to be clever and give someone the eye rather than put it in. That's for him to look at and it gave us respite. An equaliser at that stage, and the way they were playing, you think they could start to dominate.
"It didn't help that we had five injuries and two suspensions. It was a really difficult week. I'm really proud of the lads today after a difficult week, right from the first training session they have focused because we knew we'd be under the cosh."
Dean Smith: "I feel we were unlucky today, we had enough chances to get something out of the game today, we had 25 attempts and 14 inside the penalty area. In a normal game you would score two or three of those. It felt like it wouldn't go in for us today. Some of our build-up play was very good, but I'm disappointed with the manner in which our goals were conceded.
"Neal knows he should have scored and 999 times out of a thousand he does. He's had one of those moments you don't want to see on a football pitch. But he reacted after half-time and he got into some really good goalscoring positions, but was unlucky, it was one of those days for him. Only Neal Maupay will tell you if he's been too clever, centre-forwards live and die by goals and we didn't take our chances today."