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MARC ILES' BIG MATCH VERDICT: Cardiff City 2-0 Bolton

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OUT-PASSED, out-muscled and out-manoeuvred for long spells in the Welsh capital, the best Wanderers can hope for is that this defeat can be quickly brushed under the carpet.
Cardiff have grand designs on an automatic promotion place and on the evidence of an awesome first-half display, they will not be far away.
Armand Traore and Sean Morrison ended the Whites’ resistance, which in truth had been hanging by a thread.
And though the second period was a more even affair, a comeback never looked likely.

Phil Parkinson will know more important challenges lie on the horizon against direct relegation rivals in QPR and Sunderland, but this had been a chance to put some clear daylight between themselves and the bottom three.
With any more of the sluggish defending they showed in Cardiff, they will be back in it by Saturday evening.
That Cardiff’s dominance was achieved without the man they signed on deadline day from Bolton for a whopping £6million, Gary Madine, is a sobering thought.
After the big build-up, Madine failed to make the team sheet, his club coming up with the slightly odd excuse he had failed a fitness test on a nose injury sustained against Leeds United.
Whether there was a gentleman’s agreement between the teams that prohibited the target man from playing, we may never know – but someone obviously forgot to tell the programme printer, who had plastered his image all over the front cover.
Wanderers’ own team provided enough debate. Three changes were made to the team which held Fulham, including the return of Adam Le Fondre for only his fourth Championship start this season.
Reece Burke replaced David Wheater in the back three, while Filipe Morais also came in for Mark Little.
The new additions did not have much time to settle as the game set off at an explosive pace. Junior Hoilett raced through on goal in the first minute, getting round Ben Alnwick but when he tried to pick out Kenneth Zohore on the edge of the box Mark Beevers made a timely intervention.

Dane Zohore proved an able replacement for Madine and his pace got him in behind the Bolton defence again moments later, this time Burke getting a crucial touch.
Cardiff’s momentum was checked somewhat when they lost debutant Jamie Ward to injury but his replacement, the former Wigan striker Yannick Wildschut, was the next in line in what was becoming a procession of players bearing down on Alnwick’s goal.
This time the Wanderers keeper spread himself to make a good stop with his feet and preserve parity for the time being.
Trying to get any platform to play from was proving a problem for Parkinson’s side, who looked frighteningly exposed on the counter. Le Fondre only really got a touch of the ball when he came deep into Bolton territory and Sammy Ameobi’s twists and turns seldom came off.
Antonee Robinson’s industry down the left gave the Whites their best hope of a goal, although the nearest they came in the opening 45 minutes was when Beevers headed just over the bar from Morais’s set-piece.
Cardiff opened the floodgates with 10 minutes to go. Wanderers failed to clear the long throw from Lee Peltier and Traore reacted first to poke the ball into the net from the angle.
Callum Paterson came within inches of a second, arrowing a shot just wide after another fine break down the right from Wildschut.
Cardiff were not to be denied, however, and this time they took the aerial route – talismanic defender Morrison heading past the unlucky Alnwick at the second attempt with a minute of the half remaining.

Parkinson will analyse some statuesque defending, yet the scoreline did not flatter the hosts, who had put 13 shots in on the Wanderers goal in the first half alone.
It spoke volumes Wheater appeared from the tunnel in the second half, replacing Burke, as the defensive game plan to that point was not working at all.
Within a minute, however, Bruno Ecuele Manga had rattled the woodwork with a great header from Hoilett’s corner, suggesting a long old night was about to get longer.
In fairness, Wanderers did improve, lessening Cardiff’s domination to the point most of their second-half efforts were made from distance.
Alnwick made one fine fingertip save to push Hoilett’s drive over the bar and was bailed out by the covering Beevers when the Cardiff winger danced around him in the final 10 minutes.
By that stage Parkinson had thrown on Zach Clough as part of a front three – but he got little chance to exhibit his silky skills.
Anthony Pilkington, so often the scourge of Bolton, missed a chance to rub salt in the wounds in stoppage time as he lashed a shot into the side-netting.
The game had been long-since lost – but the Wanderers fans sung on in defiance. One hopes they have more reason for cheer in the next couple of games.

Subs: Wheater 6, 46 (for Burke), Clough 5, 69 (for Derik), Walker 86 (for Ameobi).
Not used: Howard, Little, Taylor, Karacan

Cardiff (4-3-3): Etheridge; Manga, Morrison, Bamba, Peltier; Paterson, Grujic, Ralls; Ward, Traore, Hoilett.
Subs: Wildschut 13 (for Ward), Pilkington 84 (for Zohore), Bamba 87 (for Hoilett).
Not used: Murphy, Bennett, Feeney, Damour.

Attendance: 16,013.
Referee: Tim Robinson (West Sussex) 6.

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