Cardiff City`s new recruit Andy Keogh was thrown in at the deep end on Saturday after a striking injury crisis saw Chopra, Bothroyd and Craig Bellamy all ruled out. With Ross McCormack having joined Leeds United, and strikers Warren Feeney and Josh Magennis being released over the summer – that left Keogh as the only recognised striker in the first team squad.
Dave Jones has adopted a 4-5-1 system since the arrival of Bellamy, but any thoughts of a return to 4-4-2 in his absence were curtailed with the realisation that there would be no-one to partner Keogh so the on-loan Wolves attacker was named as the ‘target man` at the pinnacle of our formation. That role is performed week-in week-out by Jay Bothroyd, and performed phenomenally well with aerial presence, two good feet and physical strength allowing him to hold the ball up, bring others into play and has seen him rack up the goals so far this season.
It was a huge ask of Keogh, but he stepped up manfully. His work-rate was exemplary as he chased every loose ball, pass forward and closed down defenders. He is by no means a natural target man, but challenged aerially and won a few victories over Ayala and Gerrard – despite their height advantages. He did manage to link play effectively and was available for possession regularly but was rarely given the opportunity to play facing towards goal, or run at his man.
Keogh did have a chance to open his Cardiff City account in the second half. A Burke cross from the right was just taken off Keogh`s head by Ayala after he had lost his man, but as Koumas crossed low, he again got in front of Gerrard but could only divert the ball wide of the post. It wasn`t an easy chance but he was clearly disappointed not to have hit the target. To be thrown in at short notice, when he has had little time with the squad to learn the moves, style and team-mates, was difficult – but Keogh coped very well.
Keogh`s natural position in our formation will be on either flank, or just behind Bothroyd providing support. He evidently has a good footballing brain and will certainly make a contribution this season. He may again be asked to cover for Bothroyd again tomorrow night at Leicester but Jones could also have Bellamy available for selection. On Saturday`s evidence, Keogh won`t be letting the Bluebirds down in whatever role he plays and did a much better job in Bothroyd`s absence than Kelvin Etuhu ever did – despite Etuhu`s strength advantage and the fact they play in the same position. More of the same please Mr Keogh!
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