By Yousef Haider at the Cardiff City Stadium.
On Middlesbrough's last two visits to Cardiff City's shiny new stadium, they have left the victors. By my mathematics that means that they have won everytime they have been here. If ever there was a day for Cardiff to buck that trend, today was the day. Cardiff were at the business end of a record breaking 8 home wins in a row. The only team in the football league to have won every home game.
Cardiffs away form had been more of a concern and although the start to the season has been a resounding success, Cardiff had surrendered 1st position in the league and todays match saw them in 3rd place, facing 2nd place Boro.
3 minutes into the game a vicious tackle on birthday boy Craig Noone brought the first yellow card which is quick by anyone's standards. There was a free kick in Peter Wittingham's single favourite spot on the pitch which ended up hitting the top of the wall.
Early on the teams looked to be set up for a open expansive fast paced game of football. Middlesbrough looked confident in attack with lots of cheeky flicks and deft touches.
The game continued at a good pace, both teams playing good attractive football although the best opening of the game after 10 or so minutes was intercepted with style by former boro player Andre Taylor.
On 15 minutes Ben Turner was injured and had to make way for Ben Nugent to make his home and championship debut.
18 minutes in and a break away pass to mason seemed to be going nowhere. Mason improvised to flick a header towards Helguson who stopped and turned. Kim Bo-Kyung was rushing in to support and Cardiff were 3 on 3. Helguson decided to hold the play up to the dismay of the crowd. He played it wide the way it originally came to him and a wicked low cross fizzed in but was cleared out for a corner. Great play from Mason and a good decision by Helguson despite what the majority of the crowd thought.
Wittingham whipped the corner in with a minimum of fuss and it beat everyone except Connnoly at the far post. 1-0 to Cardiff.
Craig Noone was dazzling up the right wing and Cardiff in general were in control now. Hudson brought the ball forward and was encouraged to shoot, which he did, and it was a well struck shot that just whistled wide. Less than half an hour in and Cardiff had to make their second substitution and again it was in defence. This time Andrew Taylor whose match came to an end and he was replaced by the young Joe Ralls who interestingly slotted in at left back.
Grant leadbitter hit a speculative shot from far out that dipped and nearly beat Marshall who acrobatically tipped it over the bar.
Kim Bo-Kyung strode forward with the ball and opted not to play what looked like a good ball wide to Mason, and chose to keep his run going while support flew past him into good positions. He played it to Gunnarson who would only have had to line up a shot but slipped instead and the ball rolled to the keeper.
Marvin Emnes warmed up near the Canton stand to find out that once a jack, always a jack! As chorus after chorus of one of Cardiff's favourite chants rang In his ears. He probably felt pretty hard done by after only going there temporarily and briefly on loan. He played a grand total of 4 games for Swansea scoring 2 goals.
5 minutes of injury time was signalled by the officials as the end drew near on a good half of football. Scott McDonald found himself one on one with the keeper, only to lob the ball well clear of the crossbar.
HT Cardiff 1-0 Middlesbrough
The second half started and Middlesbrough had clearly had a rollocking at half time. They came out looking determined and after 4 minutes they had a couple of chances and a couple of corners however to no avail.
5 minutes in and Ledesma whipped in a cross that Scott McDonald headed over. In the aftermath of which Hudson remained on the floor for quite some time. He got up and ran down the tunnel for some maintenance. Connolly the onl goalscorer at this point moved to a central position and Gunnarsson moved to right back. So at this point Cardiff had a centre back that didn't start the game next to a centre back that started at right back, and in the full back positions they had two midfielders.
The second half really sparked into action and the flowing football from the first half resumed. Hudson returned to the pitch with no number on his shirt.
Number 17 Lukas Jutkiewicz had boros best chance of the match, which flew over Marshall and turned out to be his last touch of the game making way for Marvin Emnes, which delighted the Cardiff city fans.
Then it was Cardiff's turn to make their third and final substitution bringing on Craig Bellamy for Gunnarsson who had taken a knock just before Hudson's re-introduction.
The first thing that Bellamy saw was a Penalty appeal from Cardiff strongly turned down from Referee Langford, a name that rings bells for many City fans.
Things seemed to go a little flat with Middlesbrough dominating possession but unable to craft out a decent chance on goal. They didn't look like a side that were 2nd in the League. Worrying however for Cardiff hadn't grabbed a second goal for all the control they had been in.
Emnes was at the Centre of what little Boro managed to create which added to the frustration of the crowd. The game was becoming disjointed, lots of little fouls, and the crowd seemed to be worrying about dropping points.
Boro were pouring forward hoping to salvage a point which left gaps for Cardiff to exploit on the break. Mason ran at the defence but got tackled, some short sharp passing created another good counter which resulted in a corner but really we didn't look like capitalising.
42 minutes in and Bailey whipped in another low cross that McDonald again managed to miss.
The closing minutes were dramatic, boro pushed more and more men forward, Cardiff ciunter attacked time and time again. Another penalty claim, again for handball, again turned down. A long ranger from Chelsea starlet McEacheran just wide of a full stretch Marshall. Four minutes of added time.
Into injury time now and the ball was being punted from one end to another, craig noone broke down the right and floated a beautiful cross to an unmmarked Helguson who headed it over, Boro break again but run the ball out of play.
A huge a kick from Marshall, it has to be full time, its not, the ball comes back, its Emnes running straight down the middle, he had options, he chose to play it out to the left, the shot comes in.....blocked by a city defender and it is cleared out to the sound of the full time whistle.
That see's Cardiff climb into the automatic promotion slots albeit with a long way from securing automatic promotion!!! On the back of a record breaking season regarding their home form, long could it continue.
FT Cardiff 1-0 Middlesbrough