Morrison’s massive for Sol and toasting
IT was a reasonably straightforward evening for Cardiff City, who cut the gap on the top two in the Championship with a comfortable 2-0 win over Bolton Wanderers on Tuesday night.
Plenty was made about Sean Morrison’s man-of-the-match performance, with the centre-back marking his 150th Bluebirds appearance with a goal and a commanding defensive performance.
However, there were several other key points to emerge from the win at the Cardiff City Stadium. The incredible stat that demonstrates Morrison’s impact Nevertheless, the strength of the captain’s performance is a good place to start.
When Cardiff were beaten by the same scoreline up at the Macron Stadium back in December, they were outfought in midfield and lacked the bite and physicality that many teams have since identified to be one of their most potent strengths.
The aerial battles were a particular weakness for Cardiff that day, with the Bluebirds winning 36 aerial duels to Bolton’s 47.
However, it could not have been more different during the return game in the Welsh capital, with the hosts putting in one of their most aerially dominant performances this season.
Indeed, Cardiff won a whopping 66 aerial duels to Bolton’s 29, a stat that undoubtedly helped to remedy the issues seen during their last showdown with Phil Parkinson’s men.
Morrison didn’t play up at the Macron, but this time around won exactly a third (22) of all his side’s duels.
It’s a marvellous demonstration of just how important he is to this team. Another record broken Tuesday night saw Cardiff bag their 13th clean sheet in the Championship this season, putting them right on schedule to break the 16 mark set by Warnock at the start of the season.
The boss himself said: “We thought that if we could have 16 clean sheets we could get in the play-offs.
“We’re well on our way there. I just thought it [the defence] was as good as you’re going to get really against a really hard-working team.
“They’ve had a decent run of form recently so it was never going to be easy, but I was really pleased with how we adapted and we were on the front foot for most of the game.
“I suppose if you can criticise, you could say that we should have take a few more chances, but we restricted them to very little at the other end.”
The Yorkshireman will need little reason to feel even more pleased about the defensive performance, but the latest shut out also brought the Bluebirds their first clean sheet against the Trotters since January 1989. Can Bamba force his way back into this side? A few eyebrows will have been raised when Sol Bamba’s name appeared on the bench.
However, the centre-back has undoubtedly been guilty of turning in performances that are well below his usual high standards recently - the display in Bolton earlier in the season ironically being one of the most prominent examples.
The performance of Morrison and Manga as a duo here will make it hard for Warnock to shoehorn Bamba back into this team, although there was a hint during the closing stages of Tuesday’s win that the former Leeds United man is still a keen favourite in the first team
Bamba’s late introduction for Junior Hoilett was a substitution that arguably didn’t really need to be made, but it nevertheless carried an air of significance.
Warnock’s always been a manager that is not afraid to drop anyone if he deems them to be under-performing, but this was a hint that Bamba still has an important role to play in this team. Man-management has always been the gaffer’s greatest strength. Can Madine and Zohore form a partnership? There have been plenty of suggestions since Gary Madine’s arrival that Warnock would have to make a decision on whether to play the former Bolton man or Kenneth Zohore up top.
Indeed, the performance of the latter was credited by the Bluebirds boss to the extra level of competition for the perceived one place up front.
However, could the two to be regularly thrown in toge could ther as they were in the bruising encounter with Millwall last Friday?.
Speaking to the Cardiff City matchday programme, new signing Madine admits he’s already thought about the possibility of playing alongside the Dane on a regular basis.
“I watched a lot of Zohore last season. Being a big lad myself, I think I appreciate the other big lads more. So, I was telling the boys at Bolton: ‘That Zohore’s a right handful!’
“Now I’ve got the chance to play with him and learn from him as well.
“Hopefully I can pass on bits to him as well and I’m sure we can combine well.”
There’s not many defences that would fancy facing these two on form.
> Kenneth Zohore fires in an effort during Cardiff’s win over Bolton
> Sean Morrison