‘Magic’ is the word to describe one man in particular after Cardiff City’s performance. A united team is the way to describe the men in blue, and a fresh face is the best way to describe the manager, Neil Harris. With his help, it’s safe to say the team is fully on its way to (perhaps) promotion.
From the moment the team list was called out the atmosphere in the stadium was electric, and although this is common for Cardiff fans, this time it felt different.
After winning their first away match the previous week, the Bluebirds were ready. So were their fans.
The runs performed by the players when they ran onto the pitch were full of passion for a win and a hunger to prove that they are worthy of being a Premier League side once more.
Aden Flint was a man who did not go forgotten in the 90 minutes: “It was his best performance in the Cardiff shirt” — as the team’s manager put it. He was determined, and the look on his face said it all. He wanted a goal.
20 Minutes in: After the away side had opened the scoring, someone had to be the man to step up. That man was Flint. Following Marlon Pack’s corner, Flint bundled the ball in, despite the best efforts of the Barnsley defence. Less than 4 minutes after the visitors had taken the lead, Cardiff had equalised.
It was not celebrated half-heartedly either: running into the crowd and punching the air with excitement, a very happy number five celebrated his second goal for the club.This was the energy they needed to take this game into their own.
Danny Ward’s performance has been questionable throughout his time at the club, but one thing he is not short of is goals, something which you need to win and something which Cardiff City definitely need.
At around 65 minutes he was subbed on with Gary Madine. Madine’s time with the club has not been easy for him (not having scored a goal for the club yet). This means the fans are still deciding on whether to laugh, be frustrated or cry for him; his name is often called on the team sheet, and the lyrics ‘you’re on the pitch and you haven’t scored’ can be heard for miles.
Ward often seems to deliver (and coming back from a three game suspension wasn’t going to be easy) but if anyone could do it it would be him. His enthusiastic run onto the pitch followed by The Ayatollah was enough to get the fans backing him once again.
Now 1-2 down Cardiff needed a goal, after the first half which consisted of good football and good skill the second half was lacking the basics. However, Ward’s presence on the pitch allowed for a different dynamic and what him and Tomlin offered can only be described as magic. Within the two minutes of him being on he had already run the length twice, annoyed the keeper the last thing anyone expected was a goal.
Yet with two minutes being on the pitch what did he do? Score. With five goals under his belt he is now drawing with Joe Ralls in the number of goals scored this season, not often seen in Cardiff this early on in the season. The celebration was class and effective: something which the Cardiff fans wanted to see and Danny Ward’s name was sung and sung until it could be sung no more.
With 20 minutes, there was a glimmer of hope but no one had any idea what would would follow. Should Cardiff hold on? Should we try to score? Should Tomlin be taken off? These were many questions circling every man’s mind in the stadium and at first glance the answer to those questions were all yes. Tomlin, a man who has been described as not able to last 90 minutes was slowly but surely becoming arguably the next Whittingham or Chopra. He allowed for a new dynamic and despite his out of breath face he did not stop.
The extra time of five minutes was greeted with a cheer from all, as a goal was in sight. Whether it was believed they would score was a different question. And late winners were a common sight for Cardiff to be celebrating long into the night. The ball was solidly up in Barnsley’s box for the majority of the added time but one thing the blue men couldn’t seem to hit was the back of the net. The current captain pack’s shot was saved tentatively by the keeper but there was another chance left, if not two.
Silence was surrounding the stadium as shambles began to take place in the box.
Mendez Laing a common receiver of abuse from his own fans, performed a beautiful nutmeg on the line to line up the ball for a curl in. The ball flew through the air to be deflected off Flint’s head and received by a calm and collected Tomlin who smashed the ball home. Within two seconds the stadium erupted, with Lee Tomlin uncontrollable with smiles and excitement knowing he was the hero of this match and knowing he would be the headline of this game knowing he was close to become a blue legend in this barmy army.
When the final whistle blew all the players were greeted with claps and a standing ovation as one man’s in particulars name was being sang. Lee Tomlin. A man who is magic and a man who is thriving under this new manager, a man who is part of a team who may not be the best in the championship.
But any Cardiff fan will tell you that the team’s good at making the best of a bad situation.
‘And now you’re gonna believe us and now you’re gonna believe us the Blues are going up.’
Magic. ‘Tomlin show us what you are made of.’
Whilst Neil Etheridge’s kicking was questionable the attitudes of the fans were the opposite. With all the fans leaving after the 95 minutes with ‘Lee Tomlin is a blue is a blue he hates Bristol’ in their heads, none of the men went home disappointed.