Preston North End 1-2 Cardiff City: James Collins scores his first goal with the Bluebirds to complete comeback victory
Steve Morison marked his first game as permanent Cardiff City boss with a stunning comeback victory over Preston North End at Deepdale.
An early goal from Sean Maguire put a damper on the proceedings, but Cardiff showed huge hearts and fought to come back and win 2-1.
Mark McGuinness sent a header home right after the break to grab the first in a Bluebirds shirt, before impact sub James Collins, who was brilliant after his introduction, did the exact same when opening his count dramatically by scoring the winner.
This gives City three much-needed points and gives fans real reason to be optimistic.
The big news before kick-off was that Kieffer Moore was out. The Welsh striker returned from international service with a small problem, although it wasn’t too bad.
But with that door closed, one has certainly opened for the two young Cardiff guns upstairs. Isaak Davies, 20, and Chanka Zimba, 19, both got their first starts for the club and a young strike force ahead of 19-year-old Rubin Colwill.
Fat? Yes. But Cardiff’s strike force has hardly been in full swing this season and it was heartwarming to see Steve Morison throw some caution to the wind.
Joe Ralls missed the game due to illness, so with Sean Morrison nominated again on the bench, it was Marlon Pack who took the armband.
The Bluebirds’ early struggles continued, however, and they fell behind early.
Early pressure from the PNE resulted in an early corner for the hosts. The ball was whipped and was not processed enough at the front post, it went to back batting and Maguire regrouped it to give the hosts the advantage within 90 seconds.
The bubble has indeed burst over the early optimism of Steve Morison’s reign and the excitement surrounding the selection of the young team.
The young people really struggled to get into the game. The ball hit Chanka Zimba, who struggled early in this role of target. Isaak Davies and Rubin Colwill also struggled to impact the game.
Marlon Pack and Will Vaulks couldn’t control things in the middle either, and Preston dominated the opening rally.
Alex Smithies behaved superbly to keep Cardiff level, making saves from Andrew Hughes and Emil Riis before acrobatically denying a hoarse effort from Ali McCann just outside the zone.
Cardiff weren’t getting anything from the referee and it escalated into frustration. The traveling Bluebirds fans cheered as if they had scored a goal when Lee Doughty awarded them a free kick late in the half.
At the break, however, Cardiff could have few complaints about the score.
They must have had a rocket at halftime because they got out of the tunnel after the break.
First, Will Vaulks punched a sharp, whistling shot through the upright to give traveling supporters a huge lift behind the goal. Then McGuinness really made them roar.
Vaulks raised a free kick in the box and the center-back stood up well and buried his header past Iversen to restore parity and give the visitors some life.
Suddenly Cardiff found pockets of space. Colwill was ghost in the box, Mark Harris, having been brought in, made an impact.
But it was replacement James Collins who made his mark.
Ryan Giles sent a nice corner and the Republic of Ireland international sent a guided header to the far corner and subsequently sent the end outside into ecstasy.
Cardiff came close to the third when Perry Ng burst into the box and found Colwill a few yards away, but the playmaker’s shot was kept on the line by a sprawling leg from Preston.
Luckily for Cardiff, they didn’t need this cushion. The Bluebirds held on and collected three valuable points on the road.
There has to be more of where this came from, but at the very least that’s a positive starting point.
Cardiff City XI: Smithies; Ng, McGuinness, Flint, Nelson, Giles; Vaults, Pack; Colwill (Bacuna 86); Zimba (Collins 45), Davies (Harris 62).
Subtitles: Phillips, Morrison, Brown, Sang.
Preston North End XI: Iversen; Van den Berg, Bauer, Hughes, Cunningham (Earl 68); Barkhuizen, Ledson (Sinclair 68), Browne, McCann; Riis, Maguire (Johnson 75).
Subtitles: Hudson, Lindsay, Storey, Potts.