Celina on target but Town go down to high flying Bluebirds
Bersant Celina scored his fifth goal for Town but Cardiff showed their Championship credentials with a deserved win in the Welsh capital.
Neil Warnock’s side opened the scoring through Junior Hoilett and doubled the advantage inside a minute of the second-half with a classy goal from Omar Bogle.
Celina gave Blues an opening just before added time from close range but Danny Ward rounded off a swift counter attack to seal the victory.
Kevin Bru came in for his first start of the season, while Tommy Smith made his first appearance since August after recovering from a hamstring injury in two of a number of changes made by Mick McCarthy from the team that beat Burton on Saturday.
Bogle hooked the ball wide from close range, then had a shot blocked by Smith as Cardiff started the game brightly, Hoilett seeing his shot drift past the far post.
It was Hoilett who put the Bluebirds in front on 12 minutes, the wideman volleying the ball into the far corner from Nathaniel Mendez-Laing’s deep cross.
It took a brilliant save from Bart Bialkowski to prevent Cardiff adding a second soon after, the ‘keeper denying Bogle from six yards with his feet.
Town responded with Bru and Grant Ward combining down the right, Sol Bamba clearing the danger at the near post.
Mendez-Laing’s cross was arrowed in at Hoilett until Cole Skuse’s intervention, Celina then getting in the game for the first time with a run and pass that saw Flynn Downes fouled on the edge of the box, Celina hitting the wall with the free-kick.
Callum Paterson fizzed a shot wide from the angle but Town could and perhaps should have been level on the half hour, Smith sliding the ball wide after Joe Garner had headed on from a corner.
Smith was in the thick of the action at the other end soon after, clearing Lee Tomlin’s overhead kick from close range. Cardiff ‘keeper Neil Etheridge made a hash of his clearance but Ward couldn’t take advantage, then Mendez-Laing fired into the sidenetting.
Celina showed a magic touch to dance around two defenders in the box and find Downes with a terrific pass, equally excellent defending preventing an equaliser.
Garner headed over from Celina’s corner as Town threatened to be level before the break while at the other end Joe Ralls saw his shot deflected wide at the end of an open first-half.
Cardiff extended their lead inside the first minute of the second-half, Bogle getting on the end of a flowing move and finishing calmly into the bottom corner.
Hoilett whipped in a cross that Bogle was inches away from converting seconds later, then Bialkowski did brilliantly again to stop Bogle, the Town ‘keeper at full stretch again soon after to keep out Paterson’s low drive.
Bialkowski held firm from Tomlin’s 25 yarder, Jonas Knudsen unable to latch on to Dominic Iorfa’s cross as Town looked for a way back into the game.
Callum Connolly replaced Downes just past the hour in Blues’ first change, Tomlin making way for Loic Damour as Cardiff followed suit.
Freddie Sears entered the fray, Bru replaced as Town shuffled the pack, former Blues’ loanee Liam Feeney also joining the action for the home side.
Martyn Waghorn was the final throw of the dice for Town in a flurry of substitutions, Celina forcing Etheridge into a smart save at his near post from a free-kick.
Skuse did well to prevent a third for Cardiff with a clearance behind when facing his own goal, Waghorn almost finding the willing run of Celina but the Bluebirds should have extended their lead when Ward went clear but he pulled his shot wide.
Celina gave Town a lifeline a minute from time to set up an edgy finish for the home side but their nerves were calmed almost immediately with Ward scoring from the rebound after yet another save from Bialkowski.
Cardiff: Etheridge, Peltier, Morrison, Ecuele Manga, Tomlin (Damour 65), Ralls, Bamba, Paterson, Mendez-Laing, Bogle (Ward 81), Hoilett (Feeney 75). Subs not used: Murphy, Halford, Bryson, Gounongbe. Booked: Morrison.
Town: Bialkowski, Iorfa, Chambers, Smith, Skuse, Knudsen, Downes (Connolly 64), Bru (Sears 72), Ward, Celina, Garner (Waghorn 78). Subs not used: Gerken, Webster, Spence, McGoldrick. Booked: Smith.