Cardiff 1-1 Fulham: Noone strike earns Bluebirds point
Last Updated: 10/08/15 3:21pm
Substitute Craig Noone produced a stunning late strike to earn Cardiff a 1-1 draw in their Sky Bet Championship opener at home to Fulham.
Cardiff seemed to be running out of ideas when Noone, who had been on the pitch for only eight minutes, rifled a 25-yard shot into the top corner of the net with only four minutes remaining.
What had been an evenly-balanced contest turned Fulham's way when Matt Smith punished Simon Moore's goalkeeping error two minutes after the re-start.
Moore, deputising for suspended West Brom target David Marshall, misjudged Ben Pringle's overhit cross and spilled the ball for the alert Smith to head home from close range.
Cardiff welcomed back Kagisho Dikgacoi and Anthony Pilkington after injury-riddled spells last season and both players were influential in the early stages as the Bluebirds sought an early advantage.
Pilkington set up Joe Mason for a second-minute shot which was blocked by Dan Burn before Dikgacoi rolled an exquisite ball into the wideman's path.
The Republic of Ireland international picked out Mason at the near post but the striker was stretching and unable to hit the target.
Fulham's response was immediate as Matt Smith almost profited from the hesitation of
Moore as the big striker headed against the outside of a post.
Smith's aerial ability produced the visitors' best moments of an entertaining first period, rising above Cardiff defenders but unable to keep down crosses from Jamie O'Hara and Kay Voser.
Cardiff were enjoying the greater share of possession and they were at their most dangerous when they managed to get Mason, back at the club after spending last season on loan at Bolton, into the game.
Pilkington found him with a neat ball and Mason's sharp spin and shot on the turn forced a flying save from Andy Lonergan and the Fulham goalkeeper had to deny the same player with his feet following a clever flick from Alex Revell.
Cardiff almost took the lead within 40 seconds when Pilkington's deflected shot looped onto the crossbar but Fulham were ahead a minute later.
The Bluebirds thought they had equalised four minutes later when Pilkington got the final touch but referee Darren Bond had spotted a handball and booked the winger for ungentlemanly conduct.
Cardiff pressed frantically for an equaliser in the final quarter and Mason and Scott Malone both went close before Noone's late strike.
"We've been waiting for that one. Craig does it so many times in training but we didn't see it last season with the success we wanted. I felt we deserved a point massively on the balance of play."
"The changing room's a bit disappointed not to have won it, which is a sign of the expectations within our ranks. Overall a draw was probably a fair result but at 1-0 we had one or two very good chances to win it. I'm disappointed not to have won it but I was pleased with the performance."