Neil Warnock. Pic: Getty Images.

Birthday Joy For Bluebirds Boss Neil Warnock

Bluebirds fans sang ‘Happy Birthday’ to manager Neil Warnock as his team eased to a fourth successive Championship victory.

More than 17,000 fans, which was a disappointing attendance with Cardiff City flying high, roared their team on during an impressive comeback in a 3-1 win.

Norwich scored first, just before half-time, but Warnock’s warriors powered to a 3-1 win and missed a penalty during a sizzling second half.

Warnock applauded home supporters for chanting their best wishes on his 69th birthday – and simply loved the present of three goals and three points from his players.

There is an edge to this Cardiff team which makes them a team who will compete and confront any Championship challenge.

They aren’t the best team around, but they have more than a fair share of quality plus a hunger and desire to win and succeed.

Cardiff have two more points now than Malky Mackay’s team had earned at the same stage on their way to the Premier Division four years ago.

Mackay’s men were top of the table on 41 points, while Cardiff are currently second with 43 from 20 fixtures and one point behind leaders Wolves.

City made one change to their starting lineup with powerful wide man Nathaniel Mendez-Laing surprisingly back in with Callum Paterson dropping out.

Surprising only because manager Warnock had hinted Mendez-Laing wouldn’t quite be ready after injury and Paterson has been in excellent form on the right of midfield.

The Bluebirds started well, but their performance fell away as the first half developed.

They were flat and lifeless and there were too many careless errors at the back. They were out of character for a team who had kept three successive clean sheets.

Bruno Manga has been impressive since switching to right-back, but he got into a tangle when he was tracking a run by Portuguese striker Nelson Oliveira.

Sol Bamba helped Manga out and tried to run the ball out with Norwich players pressing hard, but he was stopped and then Joe Bennett took over and lost possession inside the penalty area.

Goalkeeper Neil Etheridge had to go down a the feet of Oliveira to spare the blushes of his defenders.

Manga and Sean Morrison both made outstanding tackles to deny the Canaries on the edge of the penalty area, but Cardiff found themselves a goal down after 43 minutes.

A Norwich corner on their right was only half cleared and German midfield player Marco Stiepermann fired a first time left foot shot low into the net from 30 yards.

That was a major blow just before half-time, but Warnock had his say during half-time and made two changes to his team. Omar Bogle went on for Ward, who had struggled against big Norwich defenders, and the creative Lee Tomlin wet on for Craig Bryson.

Warnock’s words and the introduction of two new players plus Paterson with 30 minutes left transformed the game.

Cardiff scored twice in 14 minutes to go ahead – and Bennett smashed a force shot against the bar between those strikes.

Bamba headed in at the far post from a corner after 49 minutes, but referee Andy Davies had already blown for an Ivo Pinto foul on Morrison.

Joe Ralls fired home clinically from the spot-kick and fired up the atmosphere around the stadium.

Norwich suddenly looked a teaming trouble and Junior Hoilett gave them extra anxiety when a powerful shot was blocked and the winger fired high over goalkeeper Angus Gunn, the 21-year-old son of former Norwich player Bryan.

Hoilett was able to watch in delight as his effort looped over Gunn and dipped into the corner.

Norwich-born Gunn, with his home club on loan from Manchester City, was lucky to avoid a red card after 77 minutes.

Tomlin burst clear and lobbed neatly over the keeper, who, with the ball behind him, clearly blocked the Cardiff players run and knocked him to the ground.

Referee Andy Davies pointed to the penalty spot and Gunn looked likely to be dismissed, but stayed on and saved what was a poor penalty by Ralls. He shot straight at Gunn, expecting him to dive, and it was simple save .

Cardiff’s third goal was only delayed, though, and two minutes later substitute Bogle was on target.

Paterson burst down the right onto a superb Tomlin pass and crossed low and Bogle, cutting across the keeper, produced an outstanding finish with a flick of his right foot.

Cardiff City: Etheridge, Manga, Morrison (capt), Bamba, Bennett, Damour, Bryson (Tomlin 46), Ralls, Mendez-Laing (Paterson 70), Ward (Bogle 46), Hoilett.

Subs not used: Peltier, Feeney, Halford, Murphy.

Norwich City: Gunn, Ferreira Mendonça Pinto, Hanley, Klose, Stiepermann, Reed, Vrancic, Hoolahan, Maddison (Pritchard 82), Murphy, Oliveira.

Subs not used: Zimmermann, Jerome, Wildschut, Trybull, Franke, McGovern.

Referee: Andy Davies

Attendance: 17,033.

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