Mor­ri­son’s mas­sive for Sol and toast­ing

Western Mail - - SPORT - Tom Cole­man Foot­ball Writer sport@waleson­

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

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