Cardiff City produced an impressive away performance to beat Huddersfield Town 3-0 at The John Smith’s Stadium this evening, with goals from Josh Murphy, Will Vaulks and Callum Paterson settling the contest.
Neil Harris’ side have play-off ambitions this season and kept the top-six in touching distance on this busy midweek, whilst leaving Danny Cowley’s team hovering five points above the Championship relegation zone in the process.
Both sides were victorious over the weekend and entered the clash looking for back-to-back wins. Huddersfield had got the better of Queens Park Rangers here on Saturday, whilst Cardiff were 1-0 winners at Luton Town before making the long trip North.
And, that journey to West Yorkshire was maybe still in the legs of the Cardiff players as Cowley’s team started on the front-foot, looking for a breakthrough.
Emile Smith Rowe and Juninho Bacuna were bright in the attacking midfield positions, but clear chances failed to present themselves to Steve Mounie.
Lee Tomlin was trying to spark Cardiff into life at the other end of the pitch, but as the game grew 20 minutes old, the Terriers were doing the majority of the pressing; Bacuna’s soft header straight at Alex Smithies.
The lively Bacuna was again testing Smithies minutes later, with his fierce effort from the left-edge of the area forcing the Cardiff goalkeeper into a save.
However, as Huddersfield failed to take advantage of a lot of territory, Cardiff stung them on the break on 28 minutes.
Darren England played a smart advantage, before Tomlin, as he usually does, picked out the right pass to feed Murphy, who advanced on Jonas Lossl’s goal before lifting over the goalkeeper.
Cowley’s side tried to respond through Mounie, but he failed to test Smithies with two half-chances before Harris’ Bluebirds landed their second blow.
Danny Simpson conceded successive corners, with the latter emphatically buried by Vaulks, who met Marlon Pack’s delivery with a sweet volley.
Harris had Huddersfield on the ropes and despite Smith Rowe’s best efforts to carve the home side a lifeline; Cardiff strengthened their grip with some tight defence.
Then, on 40 minutes, Tomlin had the chance to put the game to bed, but after breaking a long way into the Town area, he could only scoop over Lossl’s crossbar.
Albert Adomah called Lossl into further action as half-time approached, as did Joe Bennett’s curling free-kick.
Cardiff were growing, and Huddersfield were welcoming the half-time break as they tried to recover.
And, lapses in concentration almost presented Adomah with a chance to add to Huddersfield’s woe straight after the interval, but the winger couldn’t pick out a teammate with his cross.
The home crowd had been demanding a fightback as the teams came back out, and they got one – of sorts – as Smith Rowe tried to get the Terriers a foothold.
The Arsenal loanee found Smithies with an effort from the edge of the area, before having another pop from distance blocked.
Cowley turned to Fraizer Campbell and Andy King from his bench as he looked for a way back into proceedings, with the latter almost bringing it instantly; fizzing a shot into the box that was blocked by a Cardiff hand. Appeals for a penalty turned away, though.
There were more appeals just after the hour as Campbell fell under Cardiff pressure, with luck not on Huddersfield’s side as Harris’ side squeezed the game from them.
Harris reacted to Huddersfield’s changes with fresh legs in his attack, but it was neither Leandro Bacuna nor Junior Hoilett doing the damage for 0-3.
A deflected shot fell to Tomlin in the area, and his scuffed effort rolled the way of Paterson, who made no mistake in firing the Bluebirds into a three-goal lead.
Huddersfield probed for a consolation in the closing stages, but their fans took for the exits, knowing that nights like this will not define their season. Charlton, Wigan and Luton have to come here still, and what Cowley’s side do in these games will decide their fate this year.
However, for Cardiff, they’ve done a job on two struggling sides in the space five days, keeping their play-off hopes alive.
Full-time: Huddersfield Town 0-3 Cardiff City.