Cardiff City 0-1 Bournemouth: Bluebirds are below par again as cherries head to victory
Philip Billing’s strike just after halftime was enough to doom Cardiff City to their second loss in a week and lift Bournemouth to the top of the league.
After putting in a limp performance in the midweek loss to Coventry City, the Bluebirds once again struggled to find their creative spark here, albeit against a team that many believe to be there or so to the point. concerns the conversation about the promotion this season.
Cardiff, meanwhile, will likely see their six best credentials come under even closer scrutiny, following a fourth loss in five games.
Billing’s low strike shortly after the break was no less than the Cherries deserved, although Cardiff almost snatched an unlikely point late when Sean Morrison sent a header back from the crossbar.
Mick McCarthy had said shortly after the loss to the Sky Blues that his side would have to produce a much better performance if they were to take anything from a Bournemouth side that arrived in the capital as one of only two teams to championship yet to be tasted. defeat this season.
The Bluebirds boss made three changes for this clash, but there was little sign of any performance improvement in a first half that saw City muster just one shot on goal.
Bournemouth, perhaps predictably enough, quickly settled into the contest, and it wasn’t long before they started flexing their attack muscles.
Hearts were in mouth in the 13th minute as Jaidon Anthony rounded Dillon Phillips, but his ball through the mouth of the goal was cleared from the line by Aden Flint.
Phillips was then on hand to collect a low effort from Ryan Christie, who also sent a looping header well above the bar moments later.
The 26-year-old remained at the heart of the Cherries’ efforts as they began to dominate possession in the first half, forcing a nice save from Phillips with a sparkling daisy cutter from the edge of the zone.
Kieffer Moore saw an effort subdued by Mark Travers on the other end, but it turned out to be a rare exception in a half that saw Cardiff far behind.
Jefferson Lerma shot narrowly as Bournemouth continued to ask questions but was ultimately frustrated as the break approached.
Dominic Solanke then walked over to the bar as the visitors apparently picked up where they left off in the second half, with Cardiff still striving to score the game in a meaningful way.
And City’s defense was finally pierced in the 54th minute. Adam Smith feeds Billing 25 yards, the latter hitting the home with a wonderful workout that left Phillips rooted in place.
McCarthy had seen enough, introducing Rubin Colwill and James Collins just past the hour in an attempt to spark a reaction, but he didn’t do much to stem the tide at first.
Billing nearly doubled his count twice, curling wide at the edge of the box before warming Phillips’ palms with a scathing free kick.
Joel Bagan’s introduction then coincided with what was arguably the best fate of the Cardiff game, with the youngster sending a magnificent cross for Collins, who could only point narrowly over the bar.
Not quite the golden opportunity he missed at Coventry, but still a good chance.
Then again, City would come even closer a few minutes later.
Collins, this time the provider, snagged in a cross from the far post which was brilliantly met by Morrison, only for his resulting header to come off the bar.
But a point would, in all fairness, have been badly deserved for the hosts, with Scott Parker’s side seeing two good chances to kill the game by begging before the full-time whistle blows.
Dominic Solanke skewed a wide half volley, before Billing whistled an angled effort just over the bar following defensive confusion in Cardiff’s box.
But one goal proved enough for the Cherries, who remain undefeated and now occupy the top of the table.
For Cardiff, it was another sobering reminder of the kind of quality that will be needed if they are even to consider the idea of a top six this season.
Cardiff City: Phillips; Sang (Colwill 62), Flint, Morrison (c), Nelson, Brown (Bagan 71); Vauks, Pack, Bacuna; Harris (Collins 62); Moore
Subscribers: Smithies, McGuinness, Ng, Bowen
Bournemouth: Through; Zemura, Kelly, Cahill, Smith; Lerma, Pearson, Billing; Christie (Rogers 80), Solanke (Lowe 88), Anthony (Mepham 90 + 2)
Submarines: Nyland, Brooks, Marcondes, Stacey
Goal: Billing 54