Preston 1-3 Cardiff City: goals from Joe Ralls, Nathaniel Mendez-Laing and Robert Glatzel send Bluebirds to top six

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Cardiff City overtook Preston in the play-offs with a crucial 3-1 victory at Deepdale. Goals from Joe Ralls, Nathaniel Mendez-Laing and Robert Glatzel in the second half allowed the Bluebirds to collect three important points in the playoff race and put their lives in their hands with seven games left.

The game itself was certainly not for purists.

Rain was falling in Deepdale, players were struggling to get a foothold and there were wandering passes sprayed all over the park.

But, in truth, it suited Cardiff City to the ground and of course they started the best on both sides, unless the referee eliminated Scott Sinclair’s early penalty call after the former man from Swansea City was tried to be lowered as easily after contact with Will Vaulks.

Neil Harris’ side enjoyed the lion’s share of possession and territory, which is rather rare for this side of the Bluebirds, and this resulted in a number of decent chances.

The first of them fell to Junior Hoilett, the scorer of this magnificent goal against Leeds United last week, after Albert Adomah and Joe Ralls had a great double before the first put the ball on the way to Canadian. Hoilett’s first effort was blocked before the ball fell gently to him again, but he extended his effort by only 15 yards.

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Adomah was comfortably the players of City, tormenting Andrew Hughes for most of the afternoon and earning visitors a succession of decisive opportunities, a platform from which Cardiff loves to launch.

Before halftime, Vaulks set up a nice inviting corner in the middle of the box and captain Sean Morrison rose to the top to send a header into the goal, but flamed over the bar.

It was a strong first half display from the Bluebirds and they certainly looked like the team in the ascendants.

But the second half really caught fire and the game suddenly came to life.

It was a much more open affair and the Bluebirds were the first to take advantage of it when Dion Sanderson floated in an inviting ball at the far post, where Ralls was rushing to attack him.

The midfielder put his head on and pushed the goalkeeper to make it 1-0 for the visitors.



Cardiff City Joe Ralls defeats Preston North End’s Declan Rudd dive with a header to score

Moments later, there really should have been two when Vaulks put a nice right flank ball into the scorer, Ralls, who threw Hoilett off the penalty spot, but the wingman wasted his chance in gold, enlightening it widely.

This miss seems to have been expensive when the hosts immediately broke down, the replacement Sean Maguire having had an immediate impact by capitalizing on a botched defense to set up Alan Browne.

Browne’s shot was blocked, but Daniel Johnson followed the Lilywhites’ side foot well.

But it was the two Bluebirds’ substitutes who counted on their impact when Lee Tomlin, 10 minutes from time, drew his man and dropped him Mendez-Laing, who took the ball, entered the area and split beautifully in front of Declan Rudd to put the Bluebirds forward.

The skies opened up at Deepdale and a monsoon ensued, but Cardiff’s goal was not yet finished.

Glatzel, once again on the bench, danced into the box, stepped back inside and fired a deflected shot past Rudd to secure a precious and crucial victory for the Neil Harris team.

For many, Cardiff was the horse that crossed the first hurdle at the start of the season and very few gave them the chance to recover.

But it’s a huge result in terms of the eliminatory race and, to work on the analogy of horse racing, this struck borage found the rail, grabbed the peloton and now its hooves are pounding.

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Preston XI (4-3-3): Rudd; Fisher (Gallagher 77), Bauer, Davies, Hughes; Pearson, Browne, Johnson (Potts 85); Barkhuizen (Maguire 71), Stockley, Sinclair (Nugent 85)

Subs: Ripley, Huntington, Ledson, Harrop, Bodin.

Cardiff City XI (4-5-1): Smithies; Sanderson, Morrison, Nelson, Bennett; Adomah (Mendez-Laing), Vaulks, Bacuna, Ralls (Tomlin 77), Hoilett (Pack 90 + 5); Paterson (Glatzel 65)

Subs: Etheridge, Flint, Smith, Whyte, Ward

Arbitrator: Oliver Langford

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