Mystic Malone is Cardiff’s hero

The Football League Paper - - CHAMPIONSHIP - By Stu­art Clarke

CON­FI­DENCE is a fine thing in a foot­baller, but Cardiff City man­ager Rus­sell Slade dis­missed left-back Scott Malone’s pre­dic­tion that he’d score in the game against Queens Park Rangers. But that’s ex­actly what he did to steal a point for the Bluebirds.

Clint Hill gave the hosts the lead in the first half from a Matt Phillips cor­ner while Char­lie Austin prof­ited from some goal­mouth pin­ball af­ter the break to score his first of the sea­son.

Cardiff struck back soon af­ter through de­fender Sean Mor­ri­son and Malone’s long-range ef­fort in the 90th minute snatched the draw.

Slade said: “We went for a walk this morn­ing and Malone told me ‘I al­ways score at Lof­tus Road’. I thought chance would be a fine thing, but he gave us some­thing we de­served over 90 min­utes.

“They were 2-0 up against the run of play and they were very for- tu­nate for their sec­ond goal – we were dis­ap­pointed to give away two goals from set plays. But we got our first goal from a set play and that gave us the mo­men­tum to go on and get the game.

“The ap­pli­ca­tion and at­ti­tude was first class and that came about be­cause of the pre-sea­son we had.”

While the home side looked al­most lethar­gic on the ball in the early stages, Cardiff were keen to send play­ers for­ward, with Rob Green mak­ing a smart save from An­thony Pilk­ing­ton on the half hour.

But it was the Hoops who took the lead just sec­onds later when Lee Peltier’s mis­judged back-pass gifted them a cor­ner from which Hill rose high­est and nod­ded past Si­mon Moore.

Austin, who Rangers opened con­tract ex­ten­sion ne­go­ti­a­tions with this week, had two chances to dou­ble the lead in the fol­low­ing ten min­utes but couldn’t take ad­van­tage of his chances.

Moore, deputis­ing in goal for the sus­pended David Mar­shall, turned Phillips’ shot be­hind on 55 min­utes and from the re­sult­ing cor­ner Austin got the last touch of a se­ries of de­flec­tions to in­crease the lead.

Cap­tain Mor­ri­son got one back for Cardiff in the 63rd minute, stoop­ing low to head in a Joe Ralls cor­ner as the visi­tors dom­i­nated the pos­ses­sion.

Ne­dum On­uoha, who made his 100th ap­pear­ance for QPR in Tues­day’s Cap­i­tal One Cup win over Yeovil, found Mas­simo Luongo free on the right, who in turn picked out Austin in the box.The Eng­land striker turned and shot past Moore but not past Matthew Con­nolly, who cleared on the line.

Cardiff play­ers were soon up in arms when Green looked to han­dle the ball out­side the box, but ref­eree Si­mon Hooper waved away the protests.

For­mer Cardiff loa­nee Jay Em­manuel-Thomas missed the chance to kill the game off in the 90th minute and it proved costly as sec­onds later Malone ri­fled home from 25 yards to grab a point. But Rs boss Chris Ram­sey be­lieves the game should have been out of reach be­fore then.

“We had lots of chances to seal the game and it should have been over well be­fore the equaliser,” Ram­sey said.

“But Cardiff were fan­tas­tic in pos­ses­sion and they ran us around a lot and looked dan­ger­ous. But we didn’t take our chances and you get pun­ished at the end.

“We need to get more bod­ies in the box and even when we did have them no-one could get a touch on the crosses.

“We cre­ated more chances this week but Cardiff pressed us well.”

PIC­TURES: Ac­tion Im­ages

HILL RISES: Queens Park Rangers’ Clint Hill heads in the opener

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