Cardiff City secured promotion to the Premier League on an historic evening at Cardiff City Stadium.
The final score between the Bluebirds and Charlton was 0-0, but a point was all that City needed for Malky Mackay’s class of 2013 to secure their top-flight status.
Celebrations continue outside Cardiff City Stadium, with all concerned overjoyed at reaching the top-flight for the first time in in fifty-one long years.
The first shot of the game came inside the second minute when Riccardo Fuller found his self with the ball in space, testing Marshall from thirty yards out. He could only parry, but Charlton conceded a free kick upon delivery of the resultant corner. Noone, in for Smith, was using the ball well on the right in the opening stages, delivering a good cross and winning a free kick inside five minutes.
Rhoys Wiggins was next to try from range but the shot was always falling wide. A Bellamy free kick at the other end dropped just over the crossbar, a lack of venom leaving Ben Hamer composed. Noone, Taylor and Mutch combined well to ease the nerves of the packed Cardiff City Stadium, the home fans appreciating the attack with a buoyant roar.
A Gunnarsson long throw won Cardiff a corner that Bellamy whipped toward the front post, Hamer collecting authoratively. The Charlton attack was then cut short as Bradley Pritchard passed the ball straight to Taylor under pressure, the Cardiff response culminating in Craig Noone being flagged as offside deep inside the Addicks’ box.
David Marshall had to be at his best to save at the near post from Charlton top scorer and captain Jonnie Jackson’s free kick, palming across the area for Bellamy to clear. The Bluebirds soaked up the pressure as Charlton moved the ball around in the Cardiff third before regaining control, the five man midfield stretching the visitors. Cardiff’s most promising attack came about just before the half hour mark, midfield dominance culminating with Mutch backheeling to Gunnarsson who laid off Craig Bellamy, the captain firing over from just inside the area.
Cardiff then nearly went one better when Craig Noone broke and set Kim free, the Korean unable to deliver the killer ball to an unmarked Bellamy. Jordon Mutch then gained a free kick on the corner of the Charlton box, Kim curling an effort so close it drew collective breath from the Cardiff suppport.
The Bluebirds were keeping the ball authoratively but had to be wary of Charlton’s goal threat, the visitors having put six against Barnsley on Saturday. Riccardo Fuller picked up the ball inside the Cardiff box from a Charlton break with Taylor jockeying, standing off well before dispossessing the striker clinically. The half drew to a close with Cardiff looking comfortable but still searching for a goal.
HALF TIME: CARDIFF CITY 0–0 CHARLTON ATHLETIC
The restart brought a signal of intent as Cardiff immediately worked the ball into the Charlton box through Noone, Taylor picking up the clearance and rifling just wide from outside the area. Michael Morrison then warned Cardiff when a Charlton throw in was allowed to bounce, turning but offering a tame effort that fell wide. Gunnarsson took the ball down well on his chest but put his shot into the stands, whilst Charlton were starting to push into wide areas. A well won Addicks corner was again wasted, this time Jackson offside after taking the short and receiving it straight back.
Aron Gunnarsson showed a touch of class with a great touch to afford his self space, then a shimmy to beat Morrison before laying off Bellamy, the winger’s cross collected by Hamer. The Charlton goalkeeper had a more difficult job when Leon Barnett drove from deep, hitting a powerful effort from range that deflected but Hamer again proved reliable.
Riccardo Fuller was then booked for persistent fouling, the striker nearly making small amends shortly after when he turned on the edge of the Cardiff box, curling a pacey effort to the far post. Marshall had to be at full stretch to deny the striker, showing why he is a candidate for player of the year after long periods with little to do.
A hat trick of corners for Cardiff kept the pressure up, and Cardiff City Stadium erupted when Mutch delivered from the edge of the box, Noone’s unstoppable bullet header finding the back of the net, only for celebrations to be cut short by the linesman’s flag. It proved to be the winger’s final contribution, Mackay fielding the experienced Tommy Smith for the final twenty.
Substitution Cardiff: Tommy Smith on for Craig Noone (70 mins)
Cardiff were starting to get frustrated by the visitors, Charlton absorbing the pressure well. The Addicks put the ball into the Cardiff danger area on a number of occasions, but Barnett in particular was happy to deal with the aerial threat. Both centre backs had enjoyed a comfortable game.
Substitution Charlton: Mark Gower on for Andy Hughes (80 mins)
Substitution Charlton: John Obika on for Riccardo Fuller (80 mins)
Callum Harriott weaved his way into the Cardiff area, firing a shot over the far corner as the Cardiff crowd received news that Watford were losing, meaning even a loss would suffice for the Bluebirds’ promotion dreams. The support was ecstatic, the game taking on a slower pace as it entered the final minutes. Cardiff continued to work the ball forward, a Gunnarsson long throw leading to Gestede improvising with an overhead kick that fell wide. With stoppage time providing no further event, the referee’s whistle brought jubilation. Cardiff City are promoted to the Premier League.