Cardiff City named an unchanged line-up for the trip to Coventry City with Gabor Gyepes failing to shake off his back injury but Kevin McNaughton passing a late fitness test to overcome a thigh strain.
The first half hour was a drab affair with neither side showing much quality. Cardiff had the majority of possession and looked comfortable, but we were unable to create any chances at all with the strong Coventry City defence able to cope with our laboured approach. Despite their lack of possession, Coventry forged the better chances with Morrison and Stead causing problems, especially in the air. David Marshall had to save well but the offside was up regardless.
The game kicked into life on the half hour, Coventry City breaking the deadlock courtesy of a Gunnarsson long throw, flicked on by McPake and finding Clinton Morrison at the back post for a tap-in. Poor defending really, with the Bluebirds confused and caught out by the long throw. Just moments later, Darcy Blake had Cardiff`s best chance thus far with a header following Chris Burke`s teasing cross, Blake`s header failing to hit the target when well placed.
Shortly afterwards, Kennedy`s ball found Whittingham whose low shot found the back of the net but the former Aston Villa winger was adjudged to be offside. It didn`t look offside to be honest, but there were few protests from the City camp. It wasn`t to matter as Cardiff continued to plug away and it was CHRIS BURKE who bagged a well deserved equaliser after smashing home from 6 yards after a Bothroyd flick evaded the Sky Blues defence.
The second half started ominously for the Bluebirds with key defender Kevin McNaughton forced off through injury. Gavin Rae replaced him with Darcy Blake reverting to a centre-back role – the first time he had fulfilled that role in the league for Cardiff. Just minutes in, we had a superb chance to take the lead but goal-machine Peter Whittingham inexplicably missed from just 4 yards with a right footed effort after Kennedy`s cross. All he had to do was guide it in, it was right in front of the travelling Bluebirds and was a golden opportunity missed.
Just a couple of minutes later, Burke`s ball found McCormack in space but his lack of gametime and confidence showed as he panicked and fluffed his early shot – not the McCormack of last season and you wondered whether we`d come to rue those two great chances. At this point, Coventry City were lucky to be in the game.
Chris Burke switched to the left wing to good effect and looked dangerous, though we were unable to supply him as often as we`d like. McCormack stung the palms of Westwood from a free-kick while Coventry`s Baker saw one effort fly over and another blocked by Darcy Blake – the Sky Blues wanted a penalty but were denied. Coventry were also lucky to survive a probable handball by Martin Cranie from Gerrard`s header.
With 90 minutes on the clock, Cardiff City won a controversial penalty courtesy of an assistant referee decision for a dubious handball against Martin Cranie. You very rarely see them given and it also came from no-where as we were not applying pressure at that time, Westwood was shown a yellow card for delaying but it made no difference as PETER WHITTINGHAM coolly slotted the penalty away for a momentous moment in our season. No-one could argue that the Bluebirds deserved to be ahead but there were a couple of nervous minutes to negotiate. The Sky Blues managed to hit the bar through David Bell, and appealed for their own penalty after the ball struck Anthony Gerrard – seemingly on the chest.
A season defining moment for Cardiff City. Absolutely brilliant in coming through poor form, adversity, injury and even from a goal down (almost unheard of!) – phenomenal stuff, deserved and very very welcome!!!