Reds keep Cardiff from the top as run goes on..

Davies: "I am delighted, it was a fantastic point for us."

Cardiff City – 1
Nottingham Forest – 1

All runs must come to an end, and it seemed that would be the case today in rainy Welsh Wales before Lewis popped up to unleash a left footed strike just into stoppage time to give the reds a draw which I think on balance is deserved, but in reality could be considered lucky as the Reds struggled to convert possession into chances throughout the game.

In a first half where the Reds had better possession, it was the home side who crafted the gilt-edged chances.  Lee Camp had three outstanding saves to make whereas Marshall was rarely troubled as the Reds struggled to find the target despite their endeavours.  A reasonable penalty shout for the Reds, a question over their opener being offside (it wasn’t), it was all finished off quite aptly for this Hallowe’en weekend by the man in the mask.

We all gasped as Billy announced he wanted six strikers – but his decision looks wise now as we are without Dexter Blackstock, Nathan Tyson and Robert Earnshaw through injury – the Reds lined up something like this:

Gunter   Morgan   Wilson   Cohen
Moussi   McKenna
Garner   Majewski   Anderson

A definite plan to dominate midfield from Billy?  You would think so, but actually we started the game brightly and took it to the hosts largely through Anderson bursting down the left hand side.  Cardiff, unchanged from their previous game, seemed someone shell-shocked by the rampant Reds and took a while to get themselves geared up for the game.

The first half-chance of the game came to David McGoldrick – he latched onto a Joe Garner flick on but was forced wide by the recovering Mark Kennedy, the striker only able to shoot comfortably wide from a tight angle.  Shortly after game the penalty call, Anderson burst through beating Adam Matthews for pace before hitting the deck in the penalty area.

At the time it looked a dive – the half time replays showed there was contact between Matthews’ knee and Anderson’s trailing ankle, technically probably should have been a penalty, in reality it would have been harsh – and we would have been seething about it if it were given against us – and of course writing this still buzzing from knowing we equalised allows much more of a magnanimous outlook!

Raddy was struggling to get into the game, and quicker footwork from the Pole could’ve opened up Cardiff after good work by McGoldrick.  Perhaps our best chance though fell to Anderson – Garner challenged well in the area to head the ball out wide to the winger who dragged his shot wide with his left foot – where an inward-curling rightfooted shot looked the better option.

Gradually though the home side was awakening, and showed real signs of why they too are one of the form teams in this league who were in with a chance of topping the table this afternoon.  Lee Camp, who’d had very little to do so far, showed he was alert to save a cracking strike by on-form Peter Whittingham, the rebound fell for Joe Ledley who in truth should have made it more difficult for Camp, but the Reds ‘keeper made another smart save.

Whittingham – on a great run of scoring – probably crossed Lee Camp off his Christmas card list as he latched onto a flick on from Chopra, hitting an excellent shot from 25 yards which Camp dived to his left to keep out of the goal.  Forest regained some composure and wrestled possession back from Cardiff for a spell without really creating much of threat to the Bluebirds.

Cardiff, however, were showing they can make a lot out of a little up front – Wes did well to prevent the impressive Chris Burke from getting a shot on goal, and shortly after Kelvin clumsily brought down Bothroyd who was bursting through and was duly booked.  The first half was petering out just as Whittingham caught Gunter with a late challege – not sure why the Reds players reacted quite so strongly, it was late but not malicious, and Whittingham was rightly booked.

The final act of the half was a freekick to the Reds just outside the area, Majewski lined it up and struck the ball well, but whilist the height was good it was wide too.  Half time came and despite it being scoreless it was an entertaining if disjointed game so far – Cardiff showed much more ability to channel their possession into assaults on our goal whilst Forest struggled to do this with perhaps marginally greater possession.

Part two started nearly very badly for Forest – Bothroyd burst through, staying onside and looking clean through, Kelvin Wilson did very well indeed to get back and make the crucial challenge which would certainly have seen him walk had he got it wrong.  The Bluebirds maintained their stranglehold – and Ledley must had thought he’d scored but for Raddy to clear off the line (running the risk of a rebound off Wes).

At the other end Raddy went for goal but his effort was deflected to take the sting out of it and creating an easy save for Marshall.  He had to be more alive shortly after as Raddy played through McGoldrick who again was too wide to really threaten the goal – his shot hitting the side netting with some Forest fans in the ground apparently thinking it was in judging by the gigantic cheer audible on the telly.

Majewski was withdrawn at this point as Forest shaped to take a corner – with Adebola coming on.  As seems to often be the case, it was Cardiff who broke forward and scored – a throughball from Chopra slipped Bothroyd in and an excellent finish from the big striker gave Camp no chance.  It took four or five viewings to determine it was probably just onside for me – so begrudgingly I take my hat off to the linesman for that call.

Billy then withdrew Garner for Garath McCleary – and he immediately started to get involved, teeing up McGoldrick on the 18 yard line only for the striker to rush his shot and fire tamely at Marshall rather than blasting it.  The final throw of Billy’s dice was to bring on Lewis McGugan for the increasingly ineffective (and probably tired) Guy Moussi – and it turned out to be a masterstroke.

There were further frustrations to endure though, a good delivery by Cohen from a corner fell to Wilson on the back stick – he would have been expecting Marshall to have caught it so can perhaps be forgiven for not being alert to stroke the ball into the goal at the back stick.  The Reds poured forward but lost the ball – luckily for us we were able to halt the Cardiff break and unleash a counterattack of our own.

A ball into the box towards Adebola bounced off the big fella under the attention of a Cardiff defender, it fell kindly for Lewis – clipped off a defender and fell kindly again for him to unleash a wonderfully struck left footed shot that sailed into the top corner giving Marshall no chance and giving Forest a point that feels both deserved and slightly fortunate all at once.

After six minutes of stoppage time were played of the announced four, the referee blew the full time whistle to confirm the Reds unbeaten runs are intact, and denied the home side the opportunity to top the table – they need to be content with second place whilst the Reds are elevated to ninth.  A great point that I imagine we will feel happier with than our Welsh hosts.