Bellamy inspires Cardiff to famous five in a row

Cardiff City 3 Norwich City 1
Click to follow
The Independent Football

Cardiff City are top of the Championship, Craig Bellamy is a perfect six out of six and the fantasy seems to be unfolding just as the Welsh capital imagined when the summer brought its most startling acquisition.

Norwich would certainly testify to the rude form of the new leaders, although they might well advise that some of Bellamy's team-mates are more deserving of the XXX rating. Jay Bothroyd, Michael Chopra, Peter Whittingham... the three scorers yesterday, and the trio who will ensure a grisly end for any team who dare to focus their attentions on the Manchester City loanee. At this level, Cardiff's firepower is frightening.

"We've only played 14 games, but with our points tally we're ahead of target," said Dave Jones, after the home manager had watched his side extend their winning run to five. "We're looking strong, are in good fettle and look like we can score goals. Long may it continue."

Jones's opposing number agreed. "You've got to be realist," said Paul Lambert. "Cardiff almost made the Premier League last season and have added to that squad. So logic dictates they are going to be there or thereabouts. You definitely can't give them a two-goal start like we did, though I was delighted with the way we responded."

The away fans cheered the announcement of Bellamy's name. Is his first club the only one of his former clubs which still hold him in affection? Celtic might be another, although there was the sense that his first League appearance against the outfit who signed him from under the noses of his hometown team as a schoolboy was special for Bellamy.

Perhaps it was his urgings which inspired Cardiff to, as Jones put it, "come out of the traps on fire". It seemed as good as over within 12 minutes. First Bothroyd notched his 12th in 14 games – coolly glancing in Mark Hudson's header – then Chopra clinically side-footed Bothroyd's flick-on past John Ruddy. However, Cardiff proceeded to reveal their shakiness in possession as well as at the back, and when Wes Hoolahan applied the necessaries to Steve Smith's centre in the 34th minute Norwich were the side on the front foot.

Not for long. Elliott Ward was harshly adjudged to have handled a couple of minutes later and Whittingham converted his fourth in as many games. "That knocked the stuffing out of them," said Jones. "I thought we controlled the second half."

Bothroyd hit the bar, Ruddy turned away a Chopra volley and another Bothroyd effort, and all the while Bellamy sparkled without ever needing to explode. The 31-year-old went off in the 70th minute, Jones revealing he was feeling "tired", but Cardiff have won each of the games in which he has played.

There was one sour note for Cardiff when Bothroyd received a booking which ruled him out of next Sunday's derby against Swansea. As the Swans are in third, that will not be one to miss.