STAR OF DAVID’S SHINING ON CITY
CARDIFF boss Russell Slade believes David Marshall earned the tag of the Championship’s top keeper after he inspired victory over Reading.
The Scottish number one was on top form to stop the Royals from going infront and denying a late comeback.
Kenwyne Jones could not have timed his return from injury any better as he rose to power a header home to become Cardiff’s first scorer in five matches, before Matthew Connolly soared above Anton Ferdinand to wrapup the three points.
But it was Marshall who stood out for Slade after his fine performance moved Cardiff above Reading and three points off the play-offs.
Slade said: “I would say David is the best keeper in the Championship and he’s in absolute top form at this moment.
“Reading’s strength is their movement in forward areas, it’s almost like playing against four centre forwards.
“They are going to get opportunities so your keeper has to be on his mettle and concentrating – and that’s what David does so well.
“It was a good win against a very strong Reading side, the first goal was important and we managed to get that thankfully.
“We controlled a lot of the first-half and their best chances came after we had scored.”
Craig Noone looked the most likely Cardiff player to break their goaldrought and could have done so after ten minutes when he cut inside past Andrew Taylor, but could not direct a shot past Ali Al-Habsi in the Royals’ goal.
It was the tricky winger who had the next chance to become the first Cardiff player to score for five games after half an hour, but he could not beat Al-Habsi from close range.
Cardiff were almost made to pay when Nick Blackman forced Marshall into action from a driven shot after Aaron Gunnarsson had carelessly given the ball away to Matej Vydra in midfield.
But the wait for Cardiff fans was finally over when Jones powered a header home from a Joe Ralls free-kick on the stroke of half-time.
Connolly ensured the Cardiff City Stadium broke into full voice again on 52 minutes.
Reading stopper Al-Habsi looked unconvincing as he deflected a freekick behind for a corner and the scoreline was soon doubled.
Connelly rose above Ferdinand from Ralls’ resulting corner to head home a second and wrap up a much needed victory for Slade .
A late Royals fightback was thwarted by Marshall, who was in inspired form in the Cardiff goal.
He was at full-stretch to tip Oliver Norwood’s bending free-kick over the the crossbar for a corner.
Michael Hector then had the chance to pull one back from the resulting setpiece, but Marshall got down sharply to his right to block, earning a standing ovation from the home fans.
Reading manager Steve Clarke also singled out Marshall for praise, saying: “Marshall was terrific out there and the fact he got man of the match shows we weren’t far away from a good result.
“We knew they would be a threat at set-plays, but we were very disappointed with the referee.
“The free-kick he gave for the first goal was very soft.
“They got the first goal which made it difficult for us as well and conceding from a corner is not like us.
“I have to give credit to the players because they kept going and kept trying and on another day some of those shots could have gone in.”
HEAD FIRST: Cardiff City defender Matt Connolly scores his side’s second