Cardiff fail to fend off Wigan's forward firepower

Wigan Athletic 2 - Cardiff City 1
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The Independent Online

It is a matter of conjecture whether or not the presence of Robert Earnshaw would have made any difference to Wigan Athletic's comfortable victory yesterday, but it can be safely said that the Championship leader's own star strikers, Nathan Ellington and Jason Roberts, also have the Premiership in their sights.

It is a matter of conjecture whether or not the presence of Robert Earnshaw would have made any difference to Wigan Athletic's comfortable victory yesterday, but it can be safely said that the Championship leader's own star strikers, Nathan Ellington and Jason Roberts, also have the Premiership in their sights.

Earnshaw's £3.4m transfer to West Bromwich Albion fulfils the Welsh forward's ambition to play at the highest level and with Ellington and Roberts having already shared eight goals this season, they could be heading the same way, too. A dejected Cardiff City slumped to their fourth consecutive league defeat largely because their defenders could not cope with the potent mixture of athleticism, strength and a touch of arrogance that typifies the duo's play. Had either taken advantage of several other chances on offer, the scoreline would have better reflected the entirely comfortable nature of their side's latest win.

The result seemed beyond doubt from the moment Ellington's trickery proved too much for Rhys Weston in the 15th minute. His clumsy challenge led to a penalty that the striker himself converted.

Ellington and Roberts enjoyed excellent service from the flanks, and that was more than could be said for Alan Lee and Andy Campbell, the men charged with the responsibility, temporarily at least, of replacing Earnshaw's goals for Cardiff. Since he managed 107 in 167 appearances for the club, it is quite an act to follow. "His goal-scoring record was superb but we've still got the players who can score goals,'' Graham Kavanagh, the Cardiff midfielder, said.

"The second half was the best we've played going forward this season,'' Lennie Lawrence, the Cardiff manager, said. He refused to comment directly on his departed forward.

Cardiff's only attack of note in the first half was Campbell forcing John Filan into a diving stop. Unfortunately for them, the goalkeeper's subsequent clearance led directly to Wigan's second, travelling all the way to Roberts, who out-muscled Robert Page before curling a shot into the top corner.

Cardiff's consolation came when Campbell unexpectedly broke through the Wigan rearguard and was brought down by Filan. Lee dispatched the penalty and Cardiff than enjoyed their best spell of the game, but it made little difference in the end.

"The game should have been finished by then,'' Paul Jewell, the Wigan manager, said. "I was disappointed we didn't get the third because that would have sealed it.''

Wigan Athletic (4-4-2): Filan; Baines, Breckin, Jackson, Wright; Teale (Eaden, 72), Bullard, Frandsen, McCulloch; Ellington, Roberts. Subsitutes not used: Walsh (gk), Thome, Graham, Mahon.

Cardiff City (4-4-2): Warner; Weston, Page, Gabbidon, Vidmar; McAnuff, Kavanagh, Boland (Bullock, 74), Robinson (Parry, 83); Lee, Campbell. Substitutes not used: Langley, Collins, Alexander (gk).

Referee: E Ilderton (Tyne & Wear).

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