Cardiff City 2, Huddersfield Town 1
Neil Warnock rang former Cardiff City and Newport County manager Len Ashurst in the aftermath of the Bluebirds’ 3-0 defeat at Reading on Sunday.
Warnock called a player meeting on Tuesday morning and went into detail about why that had happened, speaking to every member of his first team squad.
He remembered that during January 1971 that Ashurst looked set to resign as Hartlepool United manager after a shocking 1-0 FA Cup defeat against Welsh club Rhyl.
“Instead of resigning, Len called player meetings and went through what had happened,” said Warnock. “Then we training on Wednesday morning which we have not done before.
“I rang Len, told him what what I’d done and he was really pleased. I was happy with that because Len is not well at that.
“We let everybody down at Reading – fans, Vincent Tan, Mehmet Dalman. Everybody.
“That wasn’t one of my teams out there. It was too passive.”
Master playmaker Lee Tomlin made his first Bluebirds appearance since December 2017 and wowed more than 20,000 home fans at Cardiff City Stadium.
This was only a sixth start for Tomlin since arriving in South Wales from Bristol City a couple of years ago, but he is far leaner and fitter than he was last season.
Tomlin, aged 30, can have magic in his boots when he has the right mindset and if he can find consistency this season City will benefit from his creative skills. Clever little passes and tricks pick him out as a class player on his day.
This, though, is a new-look Tomlin as he chased back to cover in defence when needed and by the time Junior Hoilett was sent on to replace him there was no doubt his impact had lifted the mood around the stadium.
“THat’s the best we have played this season,” said manager Neil Warnock. “I asked Lee to give me 45 minutes to an hour and he gave me 75.
“He did alright ands calmed things down a little. His appearance lifted the crowd.
“Lee has trained really hard and when Bobby Reid went I told him his chance would come.
“He won’t be there every week because I don’t think he can sustain that, but he deserves a pat on the back because I didn’t think he would get as fit as he is after the last two years.
“This will give him a massive lift and he deserves that.”
Warnock hugged the player and had a couple of words as he walked off, while home fans applauded, cheered and sang ‘Do The Ayatollah’, Tomlin.
The manager was spot on to name Tomlin in his team – and the timing of Hoilett’s arrival was well-timed.
With 88 minutes gone the Canadian took possession from a Josh Murphy pass, controlled, turned, went for goal from 18 yards and watched in delight when the ball deflected off a defender and flew into the net.
With the score at 1-1, with Joe Ralls having fired City in front, that clinched a home victory.
Huddersfield, who played their part in an entertaining match with the highly skilled Alex Pritchard dictating from central midfield, were devastated by the goal with players falling to the grass in despair.
Warnock’s Bluebirds will take heart from their performance, although there is a lot of work ahead if they are to build a play-offs challenge.
Tomlin, surely, has earned a start against Blackburn Rovers away this weekend and he, too, must find the consistency needed to stay in the starting line-up.
There is no doubt he has all the ability needed and he certainly seems determined to succeed.
Australian referee Jarred Gillett, a five-times Aussie ref of the year, takes charge of Cardiff City’s Championship home match against Huddersfield Town this evening.
— Cardiff City FC (@CardiffCityFC) August 21, 2019
He is the first foreign referee to officiate in the English Football League.
Gillett, 32, has been on the Australian A-League rota since 2010 and joined the Fifa referees’ list in 2013.
He works at Liverpool John Moores University as a research scientist, specialising in children with cerebral palsy, in April.
Warnock made four team changes to the starting line-up at Reading.
Lee Tomlin was called up to add creative spark, while Lee Peltier, Gavin Whyte and Josh Murphy were also included.
Peltier played at right-back with Leandro Bacuna returning to his more accustomed role in midfield.
Marlon Pack, Callum Paterson and Nathaniel Mendez-Laing were ruled out by injuries.
Ralls fired Cardiff in front after 42 minutes with a right-foot shot from the centre of the penalty area, netting after Tomlin had become involved in a battle for possession.
Trevor Chalobah equalised for Huddersfield five minutes after half-time with a left-foot shot from just outside the penalty area before substitute Hoilett sparked celebrations with his late strike.
This man was everywhere tonight! 💙
— Cardiff City FC (@CardiffCityFC) August 21, 2019
This was far from a vintage team performance by Cardiff, but all 14 players involved played their part in a SkyBet Championship win.
It was a much improved performance after the dismay which followed a 3-0 defeat at Reading and Warnock will want his team to build on this.
Former Bluebirds captain Mark Hudson was dismayed because his Town team produced a decent display and there was certainly an argument that they had played the better football.
But captain Sean Morrison and his team fought hard for victory and earned their reward.
Cardiff City: Alex Smithies, Lee Peltier, Sean Morrison (capt), Aden Flint, Joe Bennett, Leandro Bacuna, Joe Ralls, Gavin Whyte (Will Vaulks 91), Lee Tomlin (Junior Hoilett 77), Josh Murphy, Robert Glatzel (Omar Bogle 76). Subs: Isaac Vassell, Curtis Nelson, Joe Day (gk), Ciaron Brown.
Huddersfield Town: Kamil Grabara, Florent Hadergjonaj, Tommy Elphick, Chris Schindler, Terrance Kongolo, Trevor Chalobah (Juninho Bacuna 77), Jonathan Hogg, Rajiv van La Parra (Fraizer Campbell 84), Isaac Mbenza (Adana Diakhaby 74), Alex Pritchard, Karlan Grant. Subs not used: Elias Kachunga, Jayden Brown, Ryan Schofield (gk), Lewis O’Brien
Referee: Jarred Gillett