By Terry Phillips
Joe Ralls went into Cardff City’s match at Preston North End with his eyes wide open – and insists that’s the way they stayed.
Ralls scored City’s opening goal in a 3-1 win at Deepdale from a rare header and said: “There’s photo proof that I kept my eyes open!”
He nipped in ahead of captain Sean Morrison to score the first goal at the far post from a Dion Sanderson cross.
“Moz (Sean Morrison) always takes up all the good positions,” said Ralls.
“I haven’t scored many headers, but if I’m in those areas and can get my head on it, that’s great to help the team.
“We showed good character after Preston equalised to go and win the game ourselves.
“To a man, subs included, it was a really good team performance and a great way to keep building on the win over Leeds.
“We’ve got such a good squad and the lads on the pitch give absolutely everything. If you do run out of gas, you know the boys can come on to replace you.
“We’re going to need everyone in the squad for the rest of the season, so hopefully that continues.”
Substitutes Nathaniel Mendez-Laing and Robert Glatzel scored Cardiff’s second and third goals as the Bluebirds moved ahead of their hosts into sixth place in the Championship.
Manager Neil Harris, now preparing his squad for Tuesday’s home match against Charlton Athletic, was left with a mix of emotions – delight (over the performance), pride (in the win) and frustration over a situation surrounding winger Albert Adomah.
“We were almost at our best,” said Harris. “It was a huge win.
“To follow up our win against Leeds in the manner we did against a good Preston side is impressive.
“I’m delighted we’ve played so well again with the football. Ultimately, at this stage of the season though it is all about the three points.
“It’s another confidence boost for us and pushes us in the right direction.”
Harris talked about German striker Robert Glatzel, who scored his second goal in two games off the bench.
“The impact of the substitutes was huge,” said Harris.
“Mendy (Mendez-Laing) and Bobby (Glatzel) scored and Tommo (Lee Tomlin) added an assist, too.
“Marlon Pack went on late in the game to help tighten it up. Squad depth is going to be vital.
“We’re starting to see Robert bear the fruit of the work that I’ve done with him over a period of time and the mentality that he has to be a success at Cardiff City and as a Championship striker.
“His finishing is as good as anybody I’ve worked with as a player or a coach.
“It has been the all-round game he has had to learn more about – the robustness of the Championship.
“He’s a hungry lad who wants to score goals. If we can get him competing with his all round game, then we’ll have a real threat on our hands. I’m really pleased for him.”
Harris hit out at the EFL over a lack of direction surrounding extensions to loan deals.
Adomah is keen to stay with Cardiff, but Nottingham Forest are reluctant to let him.
The Midlands club appear to be concerned because they are, like Cardiff, battling to qualify for the play-offs and aren’t keen to give the Bluebirds a boost.
Adomah cannot play for Forest again this season, but his current loan deal ends on June 30.
Brad Smith (Bournemouth) and Sanderson (Wolves) look certain to stay with Cardiff until the end of the season, while City are still in talks with Forest.
“The situation with Forest is not straightforward,” says Harris. “I think the EFL have to take a long, hard look at themselves.
“We are in dialogue with Forest at the moment. The bottom line with Albert is I want him to stay. I’ve picked him for every game he has been at the club for.
“Albert wants to stay and finish the season here, so we have to keep working with Forest to try and make it happen.”
Ralls opened the scoring on 69 minutes, while Daniel Johnson levelled four minutes later.
Man of the match Morrison was outstanding alongside Curtis Nelson at the back.
City regained the lead after 82 minutes when Tomlin produced a delightful pass to set up fellow sub Mendez-Laing.
The winger had Glatzel in support, but took responsibility and finished clinically.
Torrential rain made the playing surface difficult, but Cardiff made sure of the points when Glatzel made it 3-1 during injury time with a superb finish.