Marshall heroics secure a point for Cardiff
David Marshall became the first goalkeeper in the Premier league to make 100 saves this season as he helped Cardiff to a 0-0 draw at home to Aston Villa. Marshall produced a world class save at the end of the game to deny Andreas Weimann from claiming a last-gasp winner for the visitors. It would have been harsh on Cardiff if Weimann had found the net after a game that saw plenty of endeavour but little in front of goal. Cardiff controlled the first half and hit the woodwork twice after efforts from Fraizer Campbell and Craig Noone while in the second half Villa stretched their hosts and looked the more likely to score. Marshall had other ideas though and made two astounding saves that must make him close to being the best keeper in the league at the moment.
That Marshall has had to make so many saves could be seen as a slight on the Cardiff defence. It is alarming that The Bluebirds allow so many efforts on goal, but watching from the side-lines and seeing the team drop deeper and deeper as games go on then there's little surprise. Marshall's moments of magic on any other day would have won him man of the match. His last gasp save will be in the top five for Save Of The Season, but I think his defensive colleague Ben Turner will be my man of the match. Turner has been the subject of fan criticism lately with his decision-making and distribution coming under most scrutiny. Against Aston Villa, Turner found himself working above and beyond what should be expected of a centre half as he defended as if his life depended on it. He blocked, stretched, headed and won balls he had no right to win. He matched the pacey Villa attack when he needed to and the timing of his tackles was impeccable. Cardiff would have gone on and won the game if they could have converted one of their first half chances. Wilfried Zaha was causing problems and Jordon Mutch was orchestrating the play from midfield. Unfortunately, Mutch pulled up before half time and limped off to be replaced by Magnus Eikrem. Zaha went off the boil and was substituted early in the second half and replaced by Mats Moller Dhaeli. Both Norwegians did ok after coming on. Zaha showed promise in his first game as Cardiff beat Norwich. He was terrible when the Bluebirds lost at Swansea on the weekend before a better effort against Villa. Because he cost Manchester United £15 million he is in the spotlight. But if Zaha is worth £15 million then Noone, on the opposite flank, is a £30 million player. Noone has been a revelation in the Premier League after being overlooked for the first half of the season under Malky Mackay. Once again Cardiff had a fair claim for a penalty. Kenwyne Jones was clearly seen to be wrestled to the ground after beating his man on the by-line. Cardiff have not won, or conceded for that matter, a penalty all season. Referee Chris Foy tried to keep the game moving and didn't actually award any yellow cards. He was content with a quick word or a stern look as some Villa players totted up a number of fouls without being punished with a caution. Such was Foy's leniency towards Villa that when he awarded a free kick to Cardiff just before half time he was given a near standing ovation by the home supporters. At the end of the match Foy played just two minutes added time. I can't actually remember seeing just two minutes added time at the end of a game for a long time. An hour before kick-off it was revealed that Craig Bellamy would not contest an FA charge of violent conduct after striking Swansea City's Jonathan De Guzman. Bellamy started a three game ban immediately with the Villa match the first of his suspension. It was a petulant act from Bellamy. He has been playing well of late and his stupid action had deprived Ole Gunnar Solskjaer of his most experienced Premier League players. Bellamy was probably Cardiff's most influential player in the game against Swansea and it's just reckless to lose him at such an important stage of the season. The same panel of former referees cleared Manchester City's Yaya Toure of a similar charge, Toure kicked out at Norwich's Ricky van Wolfswinkel but was not punished. The bottom of the Premier League is still very tight with just six points separating Cardiff in 19th and Swansea in 10th place. Draws will not save the Bluebirds, but Marshall might, if the side can get their noses in front during games. There's an FA Cup break this weekend with Cardiff entertaining the cup holders, Wigan. The winners will progress to the quarterfinals. How many Cardiff fans would happily sacrifice the game against Wigan for three points at home to Hull City the following weekend? Or should they expect to win both?