Cardiff 0-0 Swansea: Woodwork denies both sides in derby stalemate
Report and highlights from the Sky Bet Championship clash at the Cardiff City Stadium
By Matt Storey
Last Updated: 12/01/20 5:59pm
Cardiff avoided unwanted history but could not gain revenge on bitter rivals Swansea as they played out a hard-fought 0-0 draw in the Sky Bet Championship.
Bersant Celina hit the post before the break for Swansea, while Cardiff substitute Callum Paterson saw his header crash against the bar with less than 15 minutes remaining.
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Victory for Swansea would have handed them the first league double for either team in this fixture, but neither side did enough to win in a game lacking any real quality in the final third.
The result means Swansea move one point ahead of Millwall and Bristol City on 42 points in seventh, while Cardiff move up one place to 12th.
How bitter rivals cancelled each other out
Swansea had the first real opportunity of the game from poor Cardiff defending, but Wayne Routledge was unable to keep his effort down from eight-yards out as it bounced into his path.
Cardiff enjoyed more possession and pressure in the opening 20 minutes without ever fashioning clear-cut opportunities. Headers from Curtis Nelson and Robert Glatzel were comfortably saved by Freddie Woodman in the Swans goal.
Swansea nearly made them pay with a blistering counter-attack. George Byers fed Celina down the left and the No 10 shifted the ball onto his right foot and curled in what looked like an inch-perfect effort. As he wheeled away ready to celebrate, the ball hit the inside of the post and bounced clear.
Neil Harris made five changes, including dropping keeper Neil Etheridge to the bench due to recent transfer speculation and recalling Alex Smithies. Flint, Richards, Bamba and Vaulks were also dropped, with Peltier, Morrison, Bennett and Whyte all recalled.There were three changes for Swansea, with Rhian Brewster coming in for his debut in place of Borja Baston. Wilmot and Celina also started ahead of Van der Hoorn and Dhanda.
The atmosphere was red-hot and after a few meaty challenges, the first flashpoint of the afternoon came about as Ben Cabango and Glatzel exchanged words.
Numerous players rushed in and when it all calmed down, the original protagonists were handed bookings - the third and fourth of the afternoon following early ones for Rhian Brewster and Junior Hoilett.
Matt Grimes saw a free-kick fizz narrowly wide of the post as an absorbing first half came to a close, but the second half lacked the same intensity as the first 45 minutes.
Byers and Lee Tomlin both saw speculative efforts fail to test the goalkeepers at each end in a scrappy second period.
On his Swansea debut, Brewster had two snapshots from the edge of the area midway through the second half but neither tested Alex Smithies.
Neil Harris made a double change with 20 minutes to go and the subs combined for Cardiff's best chance of the afternoon. Josh Murphy delivered the ball to the back post where Paterson rose above Ben Wilmot and powered a header at goal, only to see it crash against the bar.
That Swansea's first effort on target came in the 80th minute from an Andre Ayew shot said a lot about the game and neither side could find their way through in the closing stages.
Swansea will be the happier having won the first clash at the Liberty Stadium, but Neil Harris called for a reaction from his players after the 6-1 New Year's Day mauling at QPR and got just that.
Man of the match - Ben Wilmot
Swansea City defender Ben Wilmot scored the winning goal in the first derby and marshalled a young defence superbly in the return fixture. He won numerous headers and alongside Ben Cabango kept the physical and experienced Cardiff frontline quiet for the majority of the 90 minutes. The youngster has a big future and keeps stepping up to the mark in the big games.
Analysis: Brewster mucks in on debut
Former Swansea striker and Sky Sports pundit Lee Trundle was impressed with Liverpool loanee Rhian Brewster on his debut for the club.
Brewster found chances hard to come by, but worked hard against a physical Cardiff side.
"I think he did well and showed a different side to his game," Trundle said. "He played a lot of the game with his back to goal and they were the type of balls that we were playing into him as well. I don't think we used him enough. I think it's about us getting used to him as well.
"The forwards Swansea have had usually come to the ball and they want to play with their back to the goal, whereas Rhian wants to run in behind. It's about learning what is best for him and giving him those type of passes.
"I like that he showed that he's got a bit about him. He's a young lad who hasn't played many minutes at first-team level. He could have easily gone into his shell [when he was fouled] but the next time he got the ball he left one on the defender to say 'listen, I'm here and if you do it to me I'll do it back to you'.
"I'm impressed with him, there was a great turn in the second half and a shot wide. Overall I've seen good glimpses and I'm looking forward to seeing more of him in a Swansea shirt.
"It's a massive jump from academy football. Playing in a stadium where there are fans and plenty of noise that takes it out of you as well when you're not used to it. He's got the ability to handle it and as I touched on before, it's tough to get into that Liverpool side with that front three so to come here and get minutes will help him as a player."
What the managers said
Cardiff boss Neil Harris was pleased with his side's display and reaction in the derby.
"Pleased with a lot of the stuff out there. The clean sheet first and foremost, I know they hit the post but we didn't give too much away," Harris said.
"Really pleased from that perspective against a good footballing side. Some passages of play in the first half were really good and we got into really good areas. The chance second half, which was a lot more scrappy and a lot more like a local derby. I said to the lads we have to use the ball better at times and keep the ball.
"To get a clean sheet off the back of conceding six is fantastic and it's a group effort, not just the players on the pitch. Positives in the play, loads of it. We're a work in progress as a group and there is a long way to go. It was everything I expected from a derby and I thought we were better first half than Swansea. It's pleasing that we started in such a positive manner."
Swansea City manager Steve Cooper was frustrated that his side could not take all three points in Cardiff.
"We're frustrated, to be honest. We came here to win and felt we had the right gameplan and picked the right team," Cooper said.
"We had good moments in the first half, hit the post and was the team that was trying to play with the ball and create proper chances. I thought the game lacked a bit of quality. I know the grass was really long and it was hard to get the rhythm going.
"Fair play to the lads, there was a good mentality and it's our third clean sheet in a row, with three young players at the back and in goal. Lots of positives from it but that's not the mentality we want. We want to win games. There is lots we're happy with but ultimately we wanted to win."
Cardiff have a mammoth trip to Carlisle on Wednesday night for an FA Cup third round replay, before travelling to Birmingham City next Saturday. Swansea host struggling Wigan Athletic on the same day.