By Gareth James
Cardiff City fans will be hoping Perry Ng is feeling chilled and his feet are ice-cool when the Bluebirds host Reading on Friday night.
It was Ng’s sweet free-kick that sent his club on their way to a 2-0 midweek victory at Birmingham City to bring to an end a 14-match winless streak.
Bluebirds manager Sabri Lamouchi revealed that Ng was slotting plenty of free-kicks into the net in training and added: “We had two goals from him like this before the game in the training session.
“We said, ‘put your feet in the fridge and tomorrow you’ll give us the three points’ and it was exactly like that. It was a fantastic goal. Congratulations to him.”
Now, comes the requirement for Cardiff – and Ng – to back up that win and give Lamouchi his first home points.
The Frenchman was impressed by Cardiff’s determination and character to grind out a win, but demanded they now do the business before their own fans when expectations will be higher.
Cardiff go into the clash as favourites against the Royals, who are mid-table but went through their own sticky patch recently of five games without a win.
Like Cardiff, the spell was broken last time out with a 2-1 win at home to Rotherham, leaving Paul Ince’s side only six points off the play-off places.
Cardiff will be boosted the availability of Connor Wickham, the experienced striker who arrived at the club as a free transfer and came on as a substitute against Birmingham.
Wickham was released by Forest Green during the transfer window, but had still managed to plunder nine goals in all competitions in half a season – the kind of consistent firepower Cardiff have been so sadly lacking.
“Connor is an experienced player, he played 15 minutes and we immediately saw a difference,” added Lamouchi.
Former England international Ince enjoyed an impressive start to the season, but Reading have faded since the turn of the year with just one league victory in 2023.
“Any game for us at the moment is going to be a tough game,” said Ince.
“We don’t usually have games where we’re 3-0 up and we can just breathe… they tend to be tense, nervous games!
“I don’t expect any different at Cardiff. They’re coming off the back of a 2-0 win at Birmingham, which isn’t an easy place to go.
“They’ll be in a buoyant mood. And they haven’t had an easy start under Lamouchi, with three away games from his first four. So they’ll want to get three points in front of their fans.
“We’re under no illusion – it’ll be a tough game. But we go in off the back of three points against Rotherham, so we’ll go in full of confidence.
“We know our away form hasn’t been great this year. That’s been about small margins. So the most important thing is that we stay in every game. As we showed against Rotherham on Tuesday, if we stay in the game, we’ve got a chance of picking up points.”