Cardiff City v Scunthorpe United

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Football League Championship

Cardiff City1(0)Scunthorpe United0(0)

Olofinjana 85

Cardiff City :
Heaton, McNaughton, Hudson, Keinan, Quinn, Olofinjana, Ramsey, Emmanuel-Thomas (Burke 59), Chopra (Koumas 67), Bothroyd, Bellamy (Parkin 79).
Subs not used:
Marshall, Gyepes, McPhail, Blake.

Scunthorpe United :
Lillis, Gordon, Nelson, Nolan, Reid, Togwell, Hughes, J.Wright (Grant 87), Duffy (Collins 71), Miller, Garner (Ibrahim 82).
Subs not used:
Slocombe, Raynes, A.Wright.


by Cardiff Echo at Cardiff City Stadium

STRONGMAN Seyi Olofinjana showed his strength to end the frustration of 21,000 Cardiff City fans.

Only five minutes remained with relegation-haunted Scunthorpe - without a win in 12 games - threatening to hold on for a priceless point.

But then Nigeria international Olofinjana flexed his muscles to leave the Iron gasping for breath.

"I knocked a defender out of the way to get to the ball. With my size what can I do?" smiled loan signing Olofinjana.

"My strength since I came to Britain six years ago has always been that I am a box-to-box player. I love getting forward, try to make things happen and see if I can get myself a goal.

"It's a team game and that's the way we play at Cardiff. But the odd bit of glory when you score a goal feels good. The Championship is all about working hard, making sure you get in tackles and staying solid. We did that as a team and we have highly-talented players going forward who will always produce something.

"Sometimes you have to grind things out and we have shown over the last two matches that's what we can do.

"Scunthorpe defended well so our job was to keep things tight ourselves and work to create chances. We stayed patient, focused on what we had to do and our reward was a winning goal set up by Jason (Koumas) and Jay (Bothroyd)."

The decisive moment came when Koumas, raiding down the left, gained a yard on his defender and crossed to the far post.

Bothroyd nodded down and Olofinjana chased through and imposed himself physically to flick home a close-range header.

It was the midfielder's fifth goal of the season - and his target is to double that tally.

"I always set myself a target of 10 and I have achieved that twice - for Brann in Norway and at Wolves," he said.

"I'd love to reach double figures again at Cardiff, but I'm only thinking of the Burnley game now."

The key factors for Cardiff here were patience, a new-look defence and manager Dave Jones' ability to change the game with substitutions.

Cardiff refused to panic as Scunthorpe, despite having only 35% of possession, held on.

Scunny, defiant and well organised, stifled the home midfield; but they were eventually punished with limbs and minds tiring.

The strength of City's bench will be key over the next few months as Chris Burke, Jon Parkin and Koumas - all thrown on in the second half - made a real difference.

"I can only dream of having quality like that in reserve," said Iron boss Ian Barraclough.

Burke's runs dazzled, Parkin battled through the middle and Koumas looked better and brighter than he has for a long time.

Koumas' cross might have led to the winner, but it was far from his only contribution in a brief, but effective, cameo.

Jones has also, after months of trying, appeared to have found the right blend in his back five.

Cardiff's forwards have gone into Championship clashes far too often believing that if they didn't score the team would lose because of inadequacies at the back. Now, though, there is a swagger among the forwards as they have confidence in the unit behind them.

Mark Hudson, the only ever-present Bluebird this term, has found a new partner in Dekel Keinan and the pair have masterminded two clean sheets in their two games together.

It's a partnership that City haven't really enjoyed since Roger Johnson and Glenn Loovens were playing at the back together.

Kevin McNaughton has switched to the left and he has made a major difference on that side, while Paul Quinn is doing a manful job in trying to make the right-back slot his own.

It's a good foundation to work from, even if this home performance wasn't City's best of the season.

There were good moments, though, mainly from Jay Emmanuel-Thomas and Craig Bellamy in the first half, but a poor surface and rigid Iron defence kept Cardiff at bay.