Mystic Malone is Cardiff’s hero
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.”
HILL RISES: Queens Park Rangers’ Clint Hill heads in the opener