15th February 2020. CARDIFF City failed to make it three wins on the bounce as they battled from behind twice to draw with relegation-threatened Wigan Athletic.
Welsh international Kieffer Moore scored twice for the Latics to give the visitors a slender lead at the end of the first period, with Josh Murphy and Marlon Pack scoring in each half for the Bluebirds.
The result puts Cardiff in ninth place – just three points off the play-offs – with Wigan staying put in 22nd but still well within the fight for safety just three points adrift of Stoke City.
Wigan did not play to their league position in the opening moments, some quick ball movement and sharp runs evident of a side battling for every point. A corner taken quickly caught Cardiff napping, as Sam Morsy played in space within the Bluebirds area.
The Latics captain put a low ball in towards the six-yard box, only for Welsh international Kieffer Moore to pounce with an inventive flick, catching stopper Alex Smithies off guard and putting Wigan in the driving seat just four minutes in.
However, the Bluebirds showed their fight and were not down for long.
The long-throws of Will Vaulks were reminiscent of Stoke City’s grit and grind approach with Rory Delap, once again the Bluebirds midfielder provided an attacking chance from deep.
Sean Morrison with a headed flick gave Josh Murphy the opportunity at the back post, and the winger took it with both hands. An emphatic volley into the right corner levelled the scores for a dramatic opening amidst the winds of Storm Dennis – the Englishman netting his fifth goal in six games for Cardiff.
An in-form Murphy provided once more for the Bluebirds once the game had settled, the wide play for Cardiff created havoc for Wigan’s defence in the first period.
A clever nutmeg just outside the area gave the home side a dangerous set-piece but Lee Tomlin’s clipped attempt was easily collected by former Bluebird keeper David Marshall.
Tomlin earned a set-piece of his own in virtually the same area as his previous attempt just past the half-hour mark – as Vaulks’ low-driven shot could not catch Marshall off guard, with the stopper wise to Albert Adomah’s follow-up strike also.
Despite the home side’s strong showing in the first half, they trailed at the break.
A handball at the very end of the first period awarded the visitors a penalty – and Moore stepped up to double his tally with a cool finish into the right of the goal, despite the roar of the Canton stand doing its best to disrupt the striker.
he second period started with another set-piece; Cardiff looking once again to equalise – this time a corner headed high over the bar by Marlon Pack was an early warning sign for the Latics of the aerial presence the Bluebirds possess.
And that presence prevailed moments later, as another Vaulks heave made its way to Pack on the edge of the area who fired towards goal – his effort deflecting heavily off the chest of Kal Naismith and into the back of the net to bring the game level.
Despite wrangling their way back into the match relatively quickly, the Bluebirds settled in their approach for a winner. Promising possession turned wasteful at the final ball – the opportunities were there, Cardiff just needed to take them.
The new fan favourite Adomah – affectionately named ‘Uncle Albert’ by his teammates – caused a cry for handball with just five minutes to go. His acrobatic effort from a cleared corner was deflected away though, with referee John Brooks dismissing any penalty claims almost immediately.
And with just seconds remaining in the ninety minutes, Cardiff should have had their winner. Substitute Danny Ward crept in front of his man at the front post and connected beautifully on the volley, but blazed his shot well over the bar. Latics boss Paul Cook breathed a sigh of relief from the sidelines as his team battled for a much-needed point.
Again the Bluebirds pushed and thought they had won it late into stoppage time. Sean Morrison headed the ball over the line from a corner which sent the stands into eruption – but a foul on Marshall waved the potential winner away, with the spoils shared at the end of the game.
Neil Harris said of the match:
“Coming back twice – the players have shown it time and time again this season coming back from Cheltenham in the first game and Leeds, we showed the character where we lacked a little bit of energy at times, but we finished really strongly.
“The demand for the week was to get nine points from nine but sometimes you have to accept it wasn’t in our favour today and we’ll take the seven and look forward to Stoke next week.
“I’ve had the opportunity to see it (the disallowed goal) back from a couple of different angles and I’ve seen the opposition goalkeeper miss a punch and then scramble to try and make a second contact – we surround him and he’s on his way down making his way back up and gone into our players.
“The referee has to make a decision in the heat of the moment, he made the penalty decision in the first half which I think was correct, but he’s made a decision in the second half where we’ve had a shout for a penalty as well when Kipre moves his arm to the ball and it’s hard to tell which he hasn’t given to us, and at the end he didn’t give us a third decision.”
Star Player: Will Vaulks
1′ Yellow Card – Lee Evans
4′ Goal – Kieffer Moore
8′ Goal – Josh Murphy
25′ Yellow Card – Josh Murphy
30′ Yellow Card – Joe Williams
45′ Goal – Kieffer Moore
45′ Cardiff Substitution – Joe Bennett off for Leandro Bacuna.
54′ Own Goal – Kal Naismith
64′ Wigan Substitution – Lee Evans off for Joe Gelhardt, Gavin Massey off for Anthony Pilkington.
74′ Yellow Card – Sean Morrison.
74′ Cardiff Substitution – Callum Paterson off for Danny Ward, Josh Murphy off for Junior Hoilett.
79′ Yellow Card – Will Vaulks
81′ Yellow Card – Joe Gelhardt
90′ Disallowed Goal – Sean Morrison.
Cardiff City XI: Alex Smithies, Joe Bennett (Leandro Bacuna 45′), Sean Morrison, Will Vaulks, Josh Murphy (Junior Hoilett 74), Callum Paterson (Danny Ward 74′), Albert Adomah, Marlon Pack, Curtis Nelson, Lee Tomlin, Jazz Richards.
Neil Etheridge, Dion Sanderson, Aden Flint, Leandro Bacuna, Robert Glatzel, Danny Ward, Junior Hoilett.
Wigan Athletic XI: David Marshall, Nathan Byrne, Sam Morsy, Lee Evans ( Joe Gelhardt 64′), Jamal Lowe, Gavin Massey (Anthony Pilkington 64)’, Kieffer Moore, Joe Williams, Cedric Kipre, Kal Naismith, Leon Balogun.
Jamie Jones, Anthony Pilkington, Joe Garner, Micahel Jacobs, Gary Roberts, Jan Mlakar, Joe Gelhardt.
Match Report by Ethan Harris for ExpoSport .
Images by Steffan Clifton.