REPORTS FROM CARDIFF SITES
Earnie strike secures points
Cardiff City 1 Mansfield 0
Mario Risoli Mario.Risoli@Wme.Co.Uk,
The Western Mail - The National Newspaper Of Wales icwales.icnetwork.co.uk
CARDIFF CITY striker Robert Earnshaw netted his 30th league goal of the season last night to equal the club record as the Bluebirds beat Mansfield Town at Ninian Park to leapfrog Crewe Alexandra into second place in Division Two.
The Wales international struck the winner in a tense 1-0 win in the 63rd minute, beating Stags goalkeeper Keith Welch with a cool finish after being released by Peter Thorne.
It was Earnshaw's 34th league and cup goal of the season and it also meant he equalled the league record of most goals scored in a season set by the late Stan Richards during the 1946-47 season.
The Bluebirds' stay in the second automatic promotion place could end this afternoon if Crewe beat Luton Town at Kenilworth Road.
The Bluebirds took a while to get going and had to wait until the 24th minute before they threatened Welch's goal. Alan Mahon fed Earnshaw who saw his angled shot roll wide of the upright. Earnshaw then tried an audacious overhead kick just inside the Mansfield penalty box but his effort flew wide of the woodwork.
With 10 minutes remaining of the first half, the Wales international squandered two chances in as many minutes.
First, Mahon slipped a neat ball to "Earnie" who blazed his shot into the side netting.
Then Thorne headed on Mahon's long pass to his strike partner only for Earnshaw to miscue as he closed in on Welch.
On the stroke of half time Mahon again picked out the City goal machine with a threaded pass but Welch blocked Earn-shaw's strike.
As the second-half wore on the 13,009 crowd began to sense a 0-0 draw but then Earnshaw pounced to hand Lennie Lawrence's men three priceless points.
Report from http://www.cardiffcityfc.premiumtv.co.uk:
In this second evening match of the week, Mansfield made the trip to Ninian Park. Lennie Lawrence stuck to the starting line-up that won 2-1 against Blackpool three days earlier.
The game began with a slow start from the Bluebirds, Mansfield taking the game to the home side pressurising the Cardiff goal. Despite an early corner for Cardiff and a shot by Mahon going over the bar, the most threatening play came from Mansfield.
But linking play between Mahon and Earnshaw was giving the visitors a few things to think about, dangerous crosses being sent in by a battling Mahon finding the illusive Earnshaw.
A let off for City though on 13 minutes as Alexander was forced to race out and block a shot from an unmarked player.
Cardiff on the break after sustaining a long period of pressure on 20 minutes saw Earnshaw chip the ball over the 'keepers head. The movement though was ruled off side but wouldn't have mattered as the ball floated wide of the post.
Then minutes later Earnshaw side netted the ball after again being fed by Mahon down on the left, the movement started inside the Cardiff half by a Croft throw in landing to the feet of Mahon, who retained possession as he weaved his way through the Mansfield defence.
Mansfield's best chance of the half thus far came after forty minutes from a free kick 10 yards outside the City box, the well struck shot tipped over the bar by Alexander for a Mansfield corner.
Going in at halftime both sides were goalless however Cardiff should have led from the Earnshaw side netting chance, given the space and time involved and although not great is normally bread and butter for the highest goal scorer in the country.
Cardiff led the visitors on goal attempts 8-4 and they picked up the amount of possession as the half went on after a start which saw the visitors take nearly 70% of possession in the early stages.
A good start from Cardiff going into the second half with a headed shot from Thorne flying over the bar from a corner won by Ainsworth playing down the right. With Cardiff holding most of the possession they failed to make it count as passes were going astray and gifting the visitors defence.
Mansfield though didn't look like a side fighting for Second Division football and clearly didn't come to Cardiff to lay down and die. Cardiff were defending well but the clearance kicks often looked rushed and aimless. However with the amount of possession coming Cardiff's way it was unlikely that they wouldn't score.
And just after the half hour mark Rob Earnshaw was again rewriting the record books with a goal typical of him all season. The ball fed down the left, where most of the Cardiff attacks were coming from in this half, found Thorne who skilfully fed through to Earnshaw. The 'keeper facing the golden goal scorer had no chance of keeping him out.
Mansfield responded almost immediately and could have pulled the score level if it wasn't for a world class save from Alexander. Eager to come straight back Mansfield raced forward and won the corner which led to the goal attack that was stopped by a diving Alexander inches short of his goal line.
A beautiful ball in by Kavanagh, who caused the visitors problems at night, found Mahon across on the left, his shot was deflected out and missed Prior by inches for what should have been a certain goal.
The game was by no means done and dusted, Mansfield were coming forward when given the opportunity and causing the odd missed heartbeat. City needed a second goal to settle things and it could have come from a Bonner header which although well directed inched its way over the Mansfield bar.
With three minutes of injury time added on City played out the game to take the three points.
City 1 v Mansfield 0
- Match Report
By Sean Wozencroft
Robert Earnshaw's 30th league goal of the season secured the three points to lift City into the top two. Mansfield made City work hard for the victory, but in the end it was well deserved and the margin could have been greater.
Full report to appear here tomorrow.
Latest | March 2003