Neil Warnock. Pic: Getty Images.
Cardiff City 1, Burton Albion 2
Neil Warnock was let down by his Bluebirds’ fringe players in their Carabao Cup match at Cardiff City Stadium.
The manager made big changes to his team, giving players a chance it shine, and was dismayed by a below par display. City had been unbeaten in league and cup up to this stage, but they slipped to a bitterly disappointing defeat.
Teenage full-back Cameron Coxe was the only player able to show any personal satisfaction. Losing in this dismal manner only four days before their crunch Championship match against Queens Park Rangers was almost unforgivable.
There are no players from the group on duty against Burton who are able to knock on Warnock’s office door and say they deserve to be involved against Rangers. The manager made 10 changes to his starting line-up, Jazz Richards the only player to face Wolves and Burton from the beginning.
Burton had more possession that City for most of this match, more shots and more corners. They had more hunger and desire, which is something you can rarely say about Warnock teams.
The Bluebirds have built a reputation as a fiercely competitive, hungry group who will battle every step of the way.
But they surrendered their place in the Carabao Cup with scarcely a whimper.
When Burton scored their first goal new striker Omar Bogle was unceremoniously bundled out of the way by Tom Naylor physical challenge. He should have been physically stronger and will learn.
City sent on Anthony Pilkington, Nathaniel Mendez-Laing and Loic Damour on during the second half, adding guile, pace and power to a home team who had simply not shown enough urgency.
Naylor’s right-footed shot from an acute angle put Burton ahead after 26 minutes, while Ben Fox headed their second from close range on 70 minutes.
Newly-promoted Championship club Burton included former Bluebirds defender Ben Turner in their team and looked on their way through to the third round of the Carabao Cup when they led 2-0.
Cardiff gave themselves hope with 76 minutes gone when Lee Tomlin’s deep free-kick was touched home by Pilkington to make it 2-1.
There was no doubting the renewed spirit in the Cardiff’s team during the last few minutes.
Substitute Damour was helped off with three minutes left, but was quickly back on as City finished on the attack.
Full-backs Coxe and Jazz Richards were pushing on to help in attack and Burton, by now playing with three centre-backs, were working to hang on.
Still, though, they were unable to trouble Albion goalkeeper Connor Ripley.
The great pity is that a lot of the players involved against Burton may now have to wait for their next first team chance until Cardiff play in the FA Cup third round during January.
Bluebirds fans have been calling for a big attendance when QPR visit in the Championship this Saturday. This sort of display simply won’t have helped their cause.
Cardiff City: Murphy, Richards, Manga, Halford (Damour 80), Connolly, Coxe, O’Keefe, Kennedy (Mendez-Laing 77), Tomlin, Ward, Bogle (Pilkington 74). Subs not used: Peltier, Etheridge, Meite, M Harris.
Burton Albion: Ripley, Flanagan, Turner, Naylor, McCrory, Scannell (Sordell 62), Fox, Irvine, Palmer, Akins, Sbarra (Murphy 90). Subs not used: McFadzean, Dyer, Campbell, Barker.
Referee: John Busby.
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