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[Archived] News Article -> 2012/13 Full-Time: Cardiff City 3 Rovers 0

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If Rovers fans were still in any doubt about the state of the club, this result and performance will have hammered home just what a mess it is in. Cardiff had too much pace, class and, most worryingly, determination for a Rovers side that has now not won in the league in nearly two months. The 3–0 scoreline was entirely deserved and Rovers should consider themselves fortunate that Cardiff failed to put the match to bed until late in the game.

There were early warning signs that Cardiff posed a serious threat from set-pieces and throw-ins, but Barnett shot straight at Kean when the ball found its way to him in the area. Kean then flapped at a corner, but will have been relieved to see Campbell tamely head the ball straight into the ground when only a few yards out. Last-ditch defending helped to block shots from Connolly, Campbell and Bellamy, but Rovers were lucky that they didn't give away a penalty when it appeared that the ball struck Hanley's arms as he slid in to block a shot.

The lucky escape seemed to spark Rovers into some sort of life and they had a goal disallowed when Pedersen's perfect ball into the box found Best, but the forward had strayed half a yard offside and he was denied his first goal for the club. Cardiff went straight up to the other end and another long throw-in caused havoc in the Rovers box, with the ball eventually finding its way to Campbell, but his volley hit the crossbar and bounced to safety. Minutes later Gunnarsson's throw-in once again created a chance for Cardiff, but Kean saved Bellamy's initial shot and Jones did well to get back and clear the Wales international's second effort off the line.

It looked as though defensive resilience might see Rovers through until half-time, but from the subsequent corner Kean once again got nowhere near the ball and poor marking saw Campbell left with the simple task of heading home from a couple of yards out after he had peeled away to be unmarked at the far post. It was a terrible piece of defending, but the goal was no more than Cardiff deserved.

Rovers finally appeared to settle into some sort of pattern of play at the beginning of the second half and began to push further forward and retain possession. The midfield, which had been dominated by Cardiff in the first half, was suddenly an even contest, but the home side appeared to be quite happy to allow Rovers to play in front of them. Rovers were forced into a substitution when Kean appeared to go down with an ankle injury. He had been in some pain in the first half, but this time he was unable to continue and was stretchered off the pitch and replaced by Sandomierski. It was the on-loan Polish keeper's first appearance for the club, although he quickly began shouting out orders and controlling his back four.

Rovers huffed and puffed, but created little and, for the second time in the match, were lucky to not give away a penalty when Danny Murphy's high foot caught a Cardiff City player in the face, but the referee gave the home side a free-kick right on the edge of the area when the incident had clearly occurred inside the box. That was Murphy's last contribution to the game, one in which he failed to have any sort of impact, with the former England midfielder replaced by Jordan Rhodes.

Sandomierski did well to deny Turner after the central defender leapt above the Blackburn defence, but the substitute keeper could do little to prevent Mason from doubling Cardiff's advantage when he turned free from Kane. That goal effectively ended the match as a contest, although Kazim-Richards then clipped the crossbar with a clever chip, but Rovers appeared resigned to defeat. In the final minute of injury time Cardiff pushed forward again and Dann recklessly slid in on Mason, getting nowhere near the ball and giving the referee no choice but to award a penalty. Whittingham stepped up to take the spot-kick and sent Sandomierski the wrong way, sealing a 3–0 victory for Cardiff that moves them one step closer to the Premier League and sends Rovers spiralling towards League One.

The decision to leave Jordan Rhodes out of the side is perplexing. His game may be limited, but he has at least shown himself capable of scoring goals, something that the rest of the squad struggles to do. More baffling was the decision to reinstate Danny Murphy. Stripped of the captaincy and clearly unsuited to the physical nature of the Championship, he is a passenger in a midfield that is already devoid of quality, drive and commitment.

It's hard to see how the side could get much worse, but it's even harder to see how it can get any better. The side remains out of the bottom three, but only on goal difference, and the possibility that the club may face the ignominy of back-to-back relegations is becoming greater by the day. Big names, by this standard alone, are failing to deliver and the side looks entirely clueless when going forward. It was Gary Bowyer's first defeat as caretaker manager, but he will have to quickly pick the team up and get a reaction from the players if they are to have any chance of staying in the division. Many of the clubs around them are building momentum; Rovers on the other hand are struggling to remember what winning feels like.

The club is facing an unparallelled fall from grace. It is already the first team to have won the Premier League and been relegated; it soon may be the first former champion to find itself in League One.

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