Cheltenham Town taught a firm lesson by Cardiff City in pre-season.A first pre-season defeat of the summer for Cheltenham Town but plenty of lessons to learn with Championship side Cardiff running out 4-0 victors this evening.
The Robins had started very well and could have taken the lead through either Bagasan Graham or Tristan Plummer but Cardiff stood firm and, after a number of chances denied by Brown, the Bluebird scored two goals in quick succession courtesy of Andrew Taylor and Robert Earnshaw. Cheltenham were suddenly on the backfoot and went in at half time 3-0 down with Whittingham finishing striking well minutes before the break. Cardiff added to their scoreline not long after the break with a Peter Whittingham freekick but the game then settled into a much calmer affair and the scoreline remained the same at the full time whistle with Cheltenham losing their first game of the 2012-13 pre-season.
It was a friendly between two play-off finalists this evening with both suffering heartache at the end of last season but tonight was all about preparing for a brand new season filled with hopes and dreams. Cardiff City started with a strong line-up including Peter Whittingham and Robert Earnshaw. A large substitutes bench signalled a large amount of changes in the game but it would certainly prove a test for Mark Yates' Robins. Cheltenham's changes from the weekend's 1-0 win over Birmingham included Danny Andrew, Keith Lowe, Bagasan Graham, Tristan Plummer and Darryl Duffy.
Cheltenham Town made a storming start to the match with Bagasan Graham being released through on goal from a superb through pass by Marlon Pack. The young winger got a shot in at goal but it was well blocked by Marshall and Cardiff lived to fight another day. Cardiff weren't without their own attacks however and Peter Whittingham was pulling the strings in midfield every time the Bluebirds heaped forward but Cheltenham stood firm and called upon Brown to make a strong save from Cardiff's number seven. The Robins were providing a stern test for the Championship side and the visitors almost went a goal down when Plummer skipped past Hudson and fired a devilish shot just over the bar.
Darryl Duffy drew a foul from Darcy Blake on 19 minutes and 20 yards from goal to hand Tristan Plummer a chance from the set piece and the trialist almost took the chance with a wonderful freekick but David Marshall was equal to it and denied the Robins an opener. It was a really searching performance from Cheltenham Town and they had obviously been instructed to hassle the Cardiff midfield at every possible opportunity but Danny Andrew almost gifted Cardiff the opener with a poorly delivered pass and Earnshaw's 35 yard strike threatened to drop into the goal but it fortunately drifted wide. The little Welshman was at it again a few minutes later when he created space on the edge of the area and forced Brown into a very good save with a low strike.
That pressure soon worked for Cardiff when left back Andrew Taylor glided forward unchallenged before unleashing a daisy cutter from 35 yards past Brown and into the bottom corner for 1-0. It was a fantastic goal which left Brown with no chance. It only got worse for the Robins after that despite a decent start to the game. It was Taylor again who moved up the wing and struck a long cross into the box towards Earnshaw and the striker delivered a wonderful headed effort in past Brown to double the lead. Those goals certainly changed the game after a fairly even first 25 minutes and Cardiff were soon controlling the flow of the game. It could have been 3-0 on 39 minutes when Peter Whittingham turned well on the corner of the box and fired in a shot but Brown was on hand again to deny the midfielder. Brown was called upon once again to make a double save with Cardiff firing on all cylinders every time they had a sight of goal but the Robins were soon to suffer once again.
Cardiff's Craig Conway had been hassling constantly throughout the first half and the winger found himself through on goal after some stunning movement and he buried his effort past Brown for 3-0. Cardiff firmly in control as both teams went in at the break and Cheltenham left with a mountain to climb in this friendly.
Half Time: Cheltenham 0-3 Cardiff
This half could have gone either way for Cheltenham with Mark Yates' Robins needing to keep hold of the ball better against a Cardiff side with their tails up. It was almost the worst start possible with Earnshaw being threaded through on goal by Whittingham but the Welshman missed from six yards and saw his effort come back off the bar and over for a goal kick. Cardiff's new signing Velikonja almost grabbed a goal when he capitalised on a McGlashan mistake but Brown once again denied the bluebirds with a very good save. It was soon 4-0 however when Alan Bennett brought Conway down on the edge of the area albeit a soft decision by the referee. Whittingham was quick to take the freekick and his effort flew past Brown for four leaving the Robins number one fuming at his defence.
A whole host of changes for both teams very much changed the pace of this game and it was probably a positive for Cheltenham who had been overrun with the now depart Whittingham, Conway and Earnshaw. The game settled into a more even game but Cardiff were holding onto possession well and Cheltenham were unable to create anything clear cut on goal.
A headed effort from McGlashan from the corner was one of a very limited amount of efforts on goal for Cheltenham but Tristan Plummer did force Cardiff's new goalkeeper Joe Lewis into a good save with a low drive at goal from 20 yards. Jermaine McGlashan was doing his best to forge more attempts at goal with some pretty impressive wing play but the Bluebirds were seemingly in no mood to concede tonight. Jeff Goulding's long range effort on 86 minutes didn't trouble Lewis in the Cardiff goal and the game finally came to a close with Cheltenham no closer to breaking the Cardiff defence down. A 4-0 defeat but another step towards the new season and plenty of lessons to learn.
Full Time: Cheltenham 0-4 Cardiff
Cheltenham Town FC (4-3-3): Brown (GK) (Roberts 75); Lowe, Hooman, Bennett (C) (Jombati 65), Andrew; McGlashan, Pack (Hibbert 80), Penn (Deering 61), Plummer (Hanks 84), Graham (Goulding 58); Duffy (Mohamed 65)
Subs not used: Jones, Elliott
Cardiff City FC (4-4-2): Marshall (GK) (Lewis 61); Blake (Owen 81), Hudson (C), Turner (Keinan 64), Taylor (Nugent 61); Conway (Sainte Luce 55), Whittingham (Wharton 65), Kiss (John 71), Ralls (Hills 77); Velikonja (Jarvis 62), Earnshaw (Darko 61)
Subs not used: Parish (GK), Oshilaja, Hill
Referee: Mr. Simon Hooper
Attendance: 1,615 (487 from Cardiff)
Robins Star Man: Scott Brown - Once again he had a solid game in goal and kept the score right down against a rampant Cardiff side.