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Cardiff City And Swansea City Could Soon Be Up Close And Personal

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By Gareth James

LIfe is always relative if you are a Cardiff City or Swansea fan and often the judgement is how the other lot are doing.

The two clubs have been jostling for superiority in the Championship for the past five years, since the Swans were relegated from the Premier League.

Sometimes, the blue half of south Wales has been in the ascendancy. At other points, it has been the men in white.

This season, the Bluebirds have spent most of the campaign in and around the play-off zone, whilst their rivals were struggling down in the deeper reaches.

But Cardiff’s poor recent run of four defeats in six matches, coupled with the Swans’ mini revival of one defeat in five, means the picture is possibly about to change.

If 10th-placed Cardiff were to lose away at Hull City on Saturday and 17th-placed Swansea win at home to Middlesbrough then the gap between the two clubs would be down to just two points.

Cardiff manager Erol Bulut was less than impressed with his team’s midweek 1-0 defeat at home to Birmingham City and talked of problems and issues within his squad he needed to resolve.

But Bulut also insists his team are still way above most people’s expectations after looking in danger of being relegated at one stage last season.

“Many supporters, or other people outside, thought that this team cannot be close to the play-offs – that we would be 15th, 16th, or 17th at this stage,” said the Turkish boss.

“Still, we are in a good position, only three points away from the play-offs. We have to keep this way to be close until the end of the season.

“Then, in the last period, we have to put the gear higher to push.”

At the same time as Cardiff have stumbled, the Swans have had a modest “new manager bounce” after parting company with Michael Duff and giving the role to coach Alan Sheehan on a temporary basis.

They won away at Rotherham and backed that up with a draw at Stoke.

Now, they have a first home match under Sheehan against a Boro team who have lost three games on the bounce.

Defender Harry Darling – who scored the late equaliser at Stoke to claim a 1-1 draw – says Sheehan has proved popular since he took charge.

“Sheezy has been brilliant with us and we’ve stuck together and got a good couple of results,” said Darling.

“We are back at home on Saturday. It’s always nice to play in front of our fans and they’re brilliant.

“We’ll need them in these next two games, they’re tough games but we’re looking forward to them and hopefully we can perform well.”

Newport are hoping 14-goal top scorer Will Evans can prove his fitness for Saturday’s home game with Grimsby Town.

Evans missed the win over Barnet with an ankle injury.

Newport are currently 15th in League Two, while Grimsby are 19th.

The match means Newport manager Graham Coughlan will be up against David Artell, the former Crewe manager, who has recently taken charge of the Mariners.

Coughlan did his coaching badges alongside Gibraltar international Artell but any friendship will be put aside at kick off.

Coughlan said: “I know Dave well and he is a good lad, I was on a pro-licence course with him. I am delighted he got back in, he is a good type, a good sort.

“But as far as tomorrow afternoon goes there won’t be any hugging and kissing or embracing.

“It’s football – and you go to war, you go to battle between three o’clock and five o’clock.”

Wrexham will be going into battle against Colchester United, and will be keener for the fight having had last week’s match at Forest Green fall victim to the weather.

The Dragons are still second in the table and a win over third from bottom Colchester could close the gap on leaders Stockport, who are without a win in three matches.

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