Cardiff City were tried and tested at Burton Albion’s Pirelli Stadium, but they finished in five-star style.
Aron Gunnarsson and Bobby Reid both stood out, while the Bluebirds punished Burton for defensive errors and won 5-1.
The visitors scored their five goals in a 40 minute spell either side of half-time and now turn to next Saturday’s home pre-season fixture against Spanish club Real Betis.
A midweek fixture against Greenock Morton in Scotland was called off by the hosts, but City manager Neil Warnock is organising a private 11-a-side match in South Wales.
Warnock also sent a number of senior players to Hereford FC with the develoment squad with Rhys Healey, Stuart O’Keefe, Omar Bogle, Kadeem Harris and Anthony Pilkington all involved at Edgar Street.
Warnock will be happy that his team were subjected to a tough workout by League One Burton, who started well and unsettled the Bluebirds.
Cardiff were trailing 1-0 after 32 minutes and were playing poorly against a home team who created a number of good chances.
An own goal hailed City level and that changed the whole complexion of the game.
Captain Sean Morrison and his team upped their tempo, grew in confidence and played with a fluency that left Burton struggling to cope.
— Cardiff City FC (@CardiffCityFC) July 28, 2018
Reid and Lee Peltier both suffered bangs to the head, but both looked okay after the match.
Cardiff’s physio gave Reid the go-ahead to play on after he landed awkwardly, while Peltier had to go off after an accidental clash of heads, but was able to walk off normally.
City were far from their best during the first half, but recovered from a goal down to lead 3-1 at half-time.
Hosts Albion went ahead when Joe Ralls mistimed a challenge inside Cardiff’s penalty area and caught Mattie Lund with his boot after 11 minutes.
Liam Boyce took the penalty and sent goalkeeper Alex Smithies the wrong way.
At that stage Burton were on top, having created four good chances, while the visitors lacked fluency and tempo.
The game changed after Burton’s Jake Buxton fired into his own net just after the half hour.
It was an equaliser which lifted Cardiff. They looked sharper and brighter for the rest of the match and made Albion suffer for some poor defending.
Buxton (32, own goal), Kenneth Zohore (40), Nathaniel Mendez-Laing (45) and Reid (55) were Cardiff’s goalscorer as they opened a 4-1 lead inside the first hour.
Substitute Callum Paterson smashed home the fifth goal
Gunnarsson was a cool, calm influence in central midfield, while there was a scare for Bluebirds when a late tackle caught Reid and sent him crashing to the ground.
Reid seemed to bang his head as he landed awkwardly, but when Cardiff’s physio assessed how he was a quick thumbs up showed all was well.
Former Bristol City player Reid produced his best performance of pre-season and deserved his second half goal before he went off with Callum Paterson taking over.
The Bluebirds made eight substitutions and, when Joe Ralls and Gunnarsson made way, the central midfield partnership was Loic Damour and Jazz Richards.
That didn’t last too long, though, with Richards moving to full-back after Lee Peltier went off following a clash of heads in an accidental collision. That led to a Bluebirds reshuffle with Hoilett moving into the number 10 role and Murphy playing wide.
Cardiff’s first goal came when Junior Hoilett whipped in a superbly struck free-kick and home captain Buxton, trying to head away for a corner, could only head the ball into his own net.
Kenneth Zohore put City ahead five minutes before half-time when he collected a Ralls pass, rounded the goalkeeper and tapped into the net.
Nathaniel Mendez-Laing smashed home the third goal, cutting inside and curling his shot into a top corner on 45 minutes.
A mix-up between former Cardiff players Ben Turner and goalkeeper Stephen Bywater allowed Reid to score his goal. Neil Etheridge had launched the ball high down the middle and Reid struck while Turner and Bywater hesitated.
He took possession, evaded both Burton players and slid the ball into an empty net.
That made it 4-1 and Paterson added a fifth on 72 minutes, firing low into goal from long range.
Burton provided a good test for Cardiff and during the early stages looked capable of embarrassing manager Neil Warnock’s team, but the Bluebirds showed good character and spirit to fight back and score five goals.
Burton Albion, 4-4-2: Stephen Bywater, Kyle McFadzean, Jake Buxton, Ben Turner, Damien McCrory, Jamie Allen, Mattie Lund, Lucas Akins, Joe Sbarra, Marcus Harness, Liam Boyce. Subs: Harry Campbell (gk), Ben Fox, Elliott Hodge, Beardsley, Hart.
Cardiff City, 4-3-3: Alex Smithies (Neil Etheridge 46), Lee Peltier (Josh Murphy 70), Sean Morrison, capt (Bruno Manga 61), Sol Bamba, Greg Cunningham (Joe Bennett 61), Aron Gunnarsson (Loic Damour 61), Joe Ralls (Jazz Richards 65), Bobby Reid (Callum Paterson 61), Nathaniel Mendez-Laing, Junior Hoilett, Kenneth Zohore (Gary Madine 61). All subs used.