WHAT WE LEARNED FROM THE BLUEBIRDS’ STALEMATE WITH LIONS
WHY ZOHORE IS SUCH A BIG MISS WHILE Kenneth Zohore’s form this season hasn’t quite hit the heights of early 2017 when he was sublime as a lone striker, this game was a stark reminder of why he is so crucial to Cardiff City.
Zohore hasn’t found the net with such regularity this term but his hold-up play is absolutely integral to Cardiff’s style.
Danny Ward, though he tried his best, isn’t so conducive to that approach.
Ward is a talented player with pace and a deft touch at times, but he prefers running onto the ball, he likes it into feet and he enjoys stretching defenders. It rarely happened for him against Millwall’s back two, it must be said.
Zohore cannot return soon enough from an ankle ligament injury because, without many of us realising it, he’s become a vital cog in Neil Warnock’s Bluebirds machine.
If he’s unavailable, it could be worth the manager considering Lee Tomlin in behind Ward to thread in those through-balls that the ex-Rotherham striker clear craves.
CARDIFF START SLOWLY PERHAPS it wasn’t a shock given this game didn’t have the ‘big match’ billing of a Leeds or an Aston Villa, but Cardiff started slowly – and sloppily.
Millwall, buoyed by a small but vocal away support, made all the early running – most of it coming through combative frontman Steve Morison.
Bruno Manga was shaky, to put it mildly, and Cardiff didn’t have an escape route as Ward struggled to hold it up. Centre-backs Jake Cooper and Shaun Hutchinson were not tested nearly enough in the first half hour.
Manga (twice), Ralls, Morrison and Hoilett were also guilty of sloppy mistakes to allow the Lions to grapple early control.
Thank goodness for Sol Bamba then, who marshalled Cardiff through a sticky opening period with some trademark tackles.
Two decent chances for Ward seemed to turn the tide, but Warnock would have been irritated to see his troops so sluggish out of the starting blocks. On a cold day, before which he’d implored the Cardiff fans to generate some noise, it was all rather flat.
PATERSON PRESSES HIS CASE PATERSON’S introduction on 37 minutes certainly wasn’t preplanned, as Joe Bennett hobbled off, but it seemed to give Cardiff the proverbial shot in the arm.
The Scot’s first act in front of the Cardiff fans was to drive his side forward and produce a pinpoint cross onto Hoilett’s chest.
His second act was a dangerous long-throw that almost fell for Bamba and after the break there was a back post header that flew wide.
After impressing countless times for the Under-23s on his recovery trail, it was great to see the muchvaunted summer signing get a run in the team and looking the part.
And in the right wing-back role, he looked an ideal fit.
“I thought he was a big plus, Paterson today, it was good for him to get a game under his belt,” said Warnock after the game. Good signs, then, for the former Hearts man.
NOT MUCH FOR VINCENT TAN TO ENJOY THE Malaysian owner made his first appearance at a Cardiff game since 2015 when he watched the 3-0 demolition of Aston Villa in August.
And it was good to see him back again, clearly enthused by the Bluebirds’ superb early season form, a show of his faith in manager Warnock.
This was a very different kind of game to that Villa clash however, a more attritional contest and one that the Bluebirds struggled to gain control of.
No alarm bells for Tan of course, but a disappointment that he wasn’t treated to a better attacking display from the men in blue.
THE FORGOTTEN MAN IS NOT... FORGOTTEN IT is no slight against Rhys Healey to suggest some Cardiff City fans may have forgotten all about him.
It is, after all, eight months since he last featured in a blue shirt, carried off on a stretcher with a horrendous ligament injury in a February 5-0 thrashing of Rotherham.
Before that, however, the former Newport County loanee had shone briefly and proved he has the potential to play a part for the Bluebirds.
He has clearly remained in the minds of the Cardiff powers-thatbe, who have offered him a contract extension until 2020.
Healey was paraded on the pitch at half time with owner Tan, to show the future is bright for the forward.
Couple the fresh deal with the fact his injury recovery is going well and the future is bright for the 22-year-old. He could add an extra dimension to the Cardiff frontline in the months to come.