The streets of Cardiff are, metaphorically at least, littered with the critics' corpses. Quite how many there were denigrating their club's early season form, and quite how hostile their condemnation, is hard to quantify, but what was evident was that Cardiff City were intent on laying about them on Saturday.
First there was Dave Jones, the manger, threatening to withdraw co-operation from the press over their reporting of a supposed row with the Wales manager, John Toshack, about Joe Ledley's infected toe, and then there was Michael Chopra, whose delight at scoring the third and fourth goals to take his tally to five in his last three games manifested itself as defiance. "When I first came here I said I'd get 20 goals plus, and people were perhaps thinking, is he sure?" said the 22-year-old who signed from Newcastle in the summer. "But I've confidence in my ability. If I get chances I can score goals."
He took both goals superbly - a lash into the top corner from Steve Thompson's knockdown that stifled a nascent Luton comeback, followed by a controlled volley from Malvin Kamara's right-wing cross. For Jones's side, this was a necessary win, restoring a sense of equilibrium after the defeat at Preston and the craziness of Plymouth, when a three-goal lead was frittered into a draw.
They could hardly have hoped for a better start, as Lewis Emanuel was sent off in the ninth minute as Riccardo Scimeca's deflected header cannoned off his elbow. Darren Purse converted the resulting penalty, and Paul Parry curled a second from Chopra's pass on the half-hour. Luton, though, rallied after switching to three at the back, and when Rowan Vine pulled one back the demons of Home Park loomed large.
"When we went down 2-1 at Preston maybe people were thinking that Cardiff were slipping away," Chopra said. "What happened at Plymouth maybe made those people think they were right, but no matter how many people try to knock us, we can keep coming back fighting." Never mind the return to the top of the table; this was about proving people wrong.
Goals: Purse pen (10) 1-0; Parry (30) 2-0; Vine (45) 2-1; Chopra (58) 3-1; Chopra (77) 4-1.
Cardiff City (4-4-2): Alexander; Gilbert, Purse, Loovens, McNaughton (Kamara, 75); Parry (Flood, 83), McPhail, Scimeca, Ledley; Chopra, Thompson (Glombard, 88). Substitutes not used: Johnson (gk), Campbell.
Luton Town (4-4-2): Berefsord; Foley, Barnett, Heikkinen, Davis (Coyne, 23); Edwards, Langley, Robinson, Emanuel; Vine, Parkin (Morgan, 46). Substitutes not used: Brill (gk), Brkovic, Feeney.
Referee: P Melin (Surrey).
Booked: Cardiff Purse; Luton Langley, Vine, Edwards, Barnett. Sent off: Luton Emanuel.
Man of the match: Chopra.
Attendance: 14,108.Reuse content