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Town 1-0 Cardiff City
Town 1-0 Cardiff City
Saturday, 6th Aug 2005 18:50

A goal on his debut from Nicky Forster got Town's season off to a winning start as Cardiff were defeated 1-0 at Portman Road. The summer signing from Reading netted from a Darren Currie freekick just after the hour.

The Blues lined-up a much changed side from last season's regular XI. Lewis Price was in goal, Matt Richards back at left-back and new strikers Sam Parkin and Nicky Forster making their debuts.

In central midfield another debutant, 17-year-old academy product Owen Garvan, got the nod ahead of Jimmy Juan and Kevin Horlock alongside Ian Westlake. Jim Magilton started on the right and Darren Currie on the left.

Central defender Jason De Vos was OK to play after suffering a dead leg in training on Thursday, while new Spanish signing Sito was unavailable after international clearance from the Spanish FA failed to arrive in time.

Skipper Jim Magilton came close to scoring Town's first goal of the season in the fourth minute from a freekick. Ian Westlake had been felled just outside the area and the veteran Northern Irishman curled his freekick just wide of Neil Alexander's post.

Two minutes later, Cardiff striker Cameron Jerome had a pop from 20 yards but Price saved easily. Jerome came closer on 11 when he headed a Neal Ardley cross from the left wide of Price's left post.

Garvan was settling into senior football with ease and for much of the first half was running the game. On the quarter hour, the Dubliner almost played in Forster with a ball chipped over the defence.

On 17 Jason De Vos blocked well after Jerome had found space on the left of the Town box, before Parkin just couldn't reach a Magilton cross from the left.

Garvan hit his first shot in Championship football into the upper tier of the Greene King Stand, just prior to a spat between De Vos and Jerome after the Cardiff man had gone in studs high on the Canadian.

Just after the half hour mark, Parkin flicked a long ball past the onrushing Alexander but ended up at a tight angle to goal and put the ball into the sidenetting.

On 41 Forster turned on a loose ball in the area after a Currie cross from the left, keeper Alexander saving. Soon after, Forster broke down the left and sent in a ball which was half-cleared to Parkin, the former Swindon man forcing Alexander into a sharp save to his left.

Just before the break, Ardley crossed for Jerome who headed on to the roof of Lewis Price's net.

The Blues had probably had the better of a half in which Garvan had put in the stand-out performance. The stylish youngster had passed sensibly, tackled well and appeared to find time on the ball even when in very little space.

Forster had looked a danger with his pace and Parkin had rarely lost possession, while at the other end the much-maligned Town defence had prevented Price from having to exert himself unduly.

There was an early scare for the Blues after the break when Ian Westlake lost the ball in his own half. Jerome took the ball on and for a moment there looked to be danger but his shot from the edge of the box deflected harmlessly through to Price.

On 50 Jason De Vos picked up a very harsh yellow card for a tackle on Kevin Cooper when he had very clearly won the ball, a point made vociferously by the Town players and the crowd.

Two minutes later, a 25-yard Cooper freekick landed on the roof of the net after taking a deflection.

Just before the hour, smart work from Garvan and Parkin almost played in Forster from the edge of the Cardiff area.

Town's superiority finally told in the 64th minute. Darren Currie won a freekick out on the left and sent in a deep cross which Nicky Forster crashed in low from point-blank range for his debut goal.

The former Reading striker was in the action again soon after, receiving a superb cross-field ball from Jim Magilton and cutting in from the left. With a route to goal blocked, Forster found Parkin on the other side of the area but his shot scraped wide of the post.

Cooper curled a 30 yarder wide of the Town goal in the 70th minute, while at the other end Parkin headed a Currie cross straight at the keeper from 12 yards. Soon after, Cooper picked up a yellow card for a foul on Garvan.

On 76 Town's fourth debutant of the game entered the fray, Canadian international winger Jaime Peters taking over from scorer Forster as the Blues switch to a 4-5-1 formation.

Town should twice have increased their lead just after the 80-minute mark, on both occasions from Currie corners on the left. From the first Parkin's header scuffed the outside of the post and from the second Naylor's flick went across the face of goal.

Referee Kevin Friend angered the Town crowd in the 83rd minute when he pulled play back for a freekick with Peters in full flight. The 18-year-old had taken on two Cardiff players down the right and had beaten one and was breaking into the penalty area when the whistle blew for a foul by the first defender.

With five minutes remaining, Currie, whose set pieces had been a danger all afternoon, tried his luck from 25 yards after a foul on Westlake but sent the ball wide. A minute later Garvan fed Parkin inside the Cardiff half, the striker taking the ball on to the edge of the box but shooting over the bar.

Cardiff tried to put Town under pressure in the latter stages and finally forced a save from Price in the 87th minute. Sub Alan Lee tried an effort on the turn which Price blocked a matter of inches in front of him. It was the keeper's only serious save of the afternoon but one of the highest quality.

Jason De Vos underwent several minutes' treatment after an aerial clash with Lee in the 88th minute and looked as if he would have to be replaced before resuming his place in the Town defence. While Dave Williams was doing his stuff with the magic sponge, French loanee Jimmy Juan became the afternoon's fifth Town debut-maker, replacing Jim Magilton in the centre of midfield.

In injury time referee Friend made another decision which perplexed and frustrated the Town crowd. Parkin had made a fine run down the left and crossed deep for Peters on the right, only for Chris Barker to step in and play the ball back into Alexander's hands from the edge of the six-yard box. Barker could have been doing little else other than passing back to his keeper and yet the referee waved play on.

The final action of the game saw Price claim a Darren Purse header from a Barker cross.

A fully deserved victory for the new look Blues who were rarely threatened by a Cardiff side similarly looking to bed in a large number of players. Town passed the ball around slickly at times but on occasion still look like they need time to gel.

Price did everything required of him in goal, Richards had his best game for some while at left-back, one early error aside, while the rest of the defence were rarely troubled by Cardiff.

The very impressive Garvan and Westlake look like a decent pairing in the centre of midfield with Currie dangerous throughout with his crossing and set pieces. Magilton made one or two trademark long passes, although, like Tommy Miller last season, often tended to drift in from the right leaving Fabian Wilnis exposed.

Nicky Forster scored the all-important goal and made some good runs, not always spotted by the midfielders. Parkin looks like he is in need of a goal but overall the £450,000 signing played his part in what was a very encouraging display.

Town: Price, Wilnis, Richards, De Vos, Naylor, Garvan, Westlake, Magilton (Juan 89), Currie, Forster (Peters 76), Parkin. Unused: Supple, Horlock, McDonald. Att: 24,292.

Photo: Action Images

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