Discipline and consistency. Rightly or wrongly, I was quick to criticise some of the early performances under Neil Harris’. The games I went to around Christmas were drab and left me cold. But, in recent weeks, there is certainly a few green shoots of progress to be seen. And that has culminated in two wins on the bounce and the resurgence, and emergence, of new influencers on this Cardiff side. Plus two clean sheets and four goals in two game! I took a look at some of the headlines from the Huddersfield win:
There’s no getting around it; Lee Tomlin is our most dangerous force when it comes to chance creation. Of 11 attempts on goal last night. Tomlin was involved in four of them. His pass for Murphy’s goal was simply sublime. He wasn’t even looking but his pass was perfectly weighted and perfectly into the run of Murphy who had broken the defensive line. Tomlin drew wide ranging praise last night as his performance was hailed as his best in a Cardiff shirt and it looks like he’s adding a new dimension to his game because…
Lee Tomlin is mercurial. He’s the kind of player you let be and just hope he gets the ball to make some magic happen. But last night? He topped the charts for ball recoveries. Eight throughout 90 minutes. In the past, I’ve said I’d like to see Tomlin become a 90 minute footballer and that’s purely because, in this rough and tumble division, all 11 players need to stand up and be counted at some point. And it looks as if he’s trying to do this. Tomlin shouldn’t have to recover the ball but here he is. And these recoveries can lead to counter attacks. It’s a new dimension to our attacking play that can help catch defenders completely on the hop and with the pace in our side, we can take advantage.
Vaulks, Murphy, and Pato all rocking a 100% percentage ratio. One shot each, one on target each, and one goal each. The worse Bacuna took six shots alone, three hitting the target, one going wide, and two being blocked. Watching the game last night, it felt like nothing was wasted in attack. We looked dangerous whenever we had the ball and this attests to that. And while we only had six shots on target all game, three of those became goals. A 50% ratio. If we can keep that up over the course of the season, and keep our defence steady, then we could fly up the table backed up by…
Morrison talked in the buildup to Huddersfield about knowing that if they can keep balls out the net, we have players who can score. And boy did they back it up on Wednesday. I don’t want to criticise Flint too much – the team was clearly out of sorts early on this season and he suffered for it – but things have improved dramatically since Morrison’s return. His performance against Swansea was like a wakeup call and it’s no coincidence that we’ve kept two clean sheets in a row with him at the back and we just look more solid with him in the side. Him and Nelson are forming a formidable partnership and led the way in clearances. Nine for Nelson, six for moz, with five each in the air as part of that. The last time we conceded more than two in the league was back against QPR on New Year’s Day. Oh how the times have changed!
I talked earlier this season about the importance of attacking third passes and last night was another example of this. We attempted 291 passes, 90 of which came in the attacking third. Huddersfield attempted 582, with 150 in the attacking third. As percentages, 30% of our passes came in the attacking third compared to 25% of Huddersfield. We are just on the front foot ever so slightly more and that directness clearly had an impact last night. The speed in which we got the ball forward for Murphy’s goal was crucial to him springing the offside trap. And while you may point to only eight pass attempts in the penalty area, our build-up play from deeper meant we didn’t have to worry about interplay when we got to the box. We were already in the clear.