Cardiff stunned as Gilling­ham’s he­roes claim a fa­mous vic­tory

The Sunday Telegraph - Sport - - Fa Cup - By Ian Winrow at Pri­est­field

A late goal from El­liott List in­flicted the kind of FA Cup em­bar­rass­ment Neil Warnock was hop­ing to avoid.

Two divi­sions may sep­a­rate Gilling­ham and Cardiff City, but the dif­fer­ence in sta­tus was ren­dered mean­ing­less when List scored the only goal of this FA Cup third-round tie with nine min­utes re­main­ing.

While Warnock’s Pre­mier League side can point to a num­ber of missed op­por­tu­ni­ties, they will know they were re­peat­edly trou­bled by a team fight­ing to avoid rel­e­ga­tion into the fourth tier. For Gilling­ham, List’s match-win­ning goal capped an im­pres­sive dis­play ini­tially founded on pe­ri­ods of res­o­lute de­fend­ing, be­fore a more ex­pan­sive ap­proach in the sec­ond half was re­warded.

For Steve Lovell, the man­ager of the League One side who went into the game just one point above the rel­e­ga­tion places, the sat­is­fac­tion of a game plan well ex­e­cuted only added to the plea­sure of steer­ing a club with whom he has an as­so­ci­a­tion stretch­ing back to his time as a player to a first win against top-flight opposition in 15 years. “This means ev­ery­thing to the club,” he said.

“We were very dis­ci­plined in the first half. I know some peo­ple get frus­trated at the way we play, but we had to give them re­spect. And we thor­oughly de­serve the win in the end. We haven’t got the re­sults at times this year and haven’t had the breaks. But to­day we de­fended re­ally well. They missed a few op­por­tu­ni­ties, but so did we.

“This is the first time I’ve played a Pre­mier League club, so it is my best day as a man­ager. But next week we play Bur­ton, so we have to switch on to that. Maybe a Cup run can help us in the league, you don’t know. It has hin­dered clubs in the past.”

Warnock had tried to make his play­ers aware of the risk of an up­set be­fore­hand, but con­ceded his side had paid the price for fail­ing to make more of their chances. He also claimed his side should have been awarded two penal­ties, com­plain­ing that Sean Mor­ri­son, the cen­tre-back, was fouled in the build-up to List’s goal and that Danny Ward, the sub­sti­tute, took a blow to the face late on. “We’ve had so many chances and if you get pun­ished, good luck to them,” he said. “We should have had two penal­ties, the push on [Nathaniel ] Men­dez-Laing was bla­tant. For the goal he has el­bowed him in the throat. I hope they [Gilling­ham] get a good draw. It [los­ing] might be a bless­ing – I’ll tell you at the end of the sea­son if we stay up.”

Ini­tially, there seemed lit­tle chance the Pre­mier League side would re­turn to South Wales on the re­ceiv­ing end of a shock dur­ing the open­ing half when Cardiff dom­i­nated for long pe­ri­ods.

But they were guilty of fail­ing to cre­ate enough clear scor­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties and when they un­picked the home de­fence, they found To­mas Holy, the goal­keeper, in ob­sti­nate form. Joe Ben­nett, the Cardiff left-back, was de­nied in the 15th minute by a good save and when the ball rolled free for Bobby Reid, Gilling­ham’s de­fend­ers had got back in num­bers to stop his drive.

A sec­ond Holy save, this time to deny Mor­ri­son’s close-range shot, added to Cardiff ’s grow­ing frus­tra­tion while strength­en­ing the be­lief among the home side. And af­ter Bradley Garm­ston twice got for­ward to de­liver telling crosses to­wards striker Tom Eaves be­fore half-time, the home side went into the break know­ing they were ca­pa­ble of un­set­tling the vis­i­tors.

Had Eaves not di­rected Garm­ston’s sec­ond cross over the bar, Gilling­ham would have reached the in­ter­val in front. It was the best chance of the first half and the home side wasted lit­tle time carv­ing out an­other good op­por­tu­nity 10 min­utes af­ter the break when Josh Parker some­how scooped the ball over from just six yards out.

Cardiff re­sponded with Men­dezLaing strik­ing the bar and Josh Mur­phy be­ing de­nied by a su­perb clearance off the line by Gabriel Zakuani af­ter he had stroked the ball past Cardiff keeper Alex Smithies.

List, though, was the one player who was able to main­tain his com­po­sure when pre­sented with a chance to set­tle the tie, plac­ing his shot be­yond Smithies from 12 yards out.

“Ev­ery­one is buzzing,” List said af­ter­wards. “We won the game, which was the main thing, and it was the cherry on the cake to score the goal. When the ball came to my feet I thought about putting it in the far cor­ner but as I went to put it there, I saw that the keeper stepped early so I just re­versed it into the other side.

“It’s mas­sive. It’s go­ing to do the world of good for the dress­ing room. Ev­ery­one is go­ing to be full of con­fi­dence and hope­fully we can take this form into the league and re­ally kick on.”

Over the moon: A grounded El­liott List (above) is mobbed by his Gilling­ham team-mates af­ter scor­ing the late win­ner (left) to send their fans wild (right)

Well done: Neil Warnock shakes hands with win­ning Gilling­ham man­ager Steve Lovell

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