Match Report: Tommy Smith piles the misery on rudderless Blackpool

Blackpool 1 Cardiff City 2

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The Independent Football

The contrasts were striking as league leaders Cardiff City took their chances while managerless Blackpool didn't. This could have gone either way but, somewhat predictably, Malky Mackay's side continued their promotion assault against helpless hosts.

Steve Thompson, Blackpool's caretaker manager, has now lost each of his three games in charge. The club are hoping to make an appointment as swiftly as possible to ensure a relegation battle is not the main source of excitement come May. "It needs sorting out," said Thompson. "I'd be lying if I said it that was not unsettling. We need some stability."

There was a lack of quality throughout, largely due to the bog of a playing surface hindering any team attempting to keep the ball on the floor. It is a matter of such concern that officials at Bloomfield Road have brought in experts to diagnose the pitch problem.

Cardiff had the confidence and know-how to get the job done, to the delight of Mackay. "You need a balance in terms of your away form," said the Cardiff manager.

"We feel we can score goals and we have to make sure the belief running through the group keeps going. There was certainly a lot of discipline in that performance and I'm very proud."

Blackpool's usual source of inspiration, Tom Ince, missed two glorious opportunities and cut a frustrated figure. The 20-year-old has not found the net in any of his last 10 games, with Michael Appleton, his former manager, suggesting recently that the talk surrounding a transfer back to Liverpool had affected him. For now, Blackpool desperately need Ince to rediscover his scintillating early-season form.

Failing to take presentable chances while conceding soft goals is a recipe for disaster and Cardiff were gifted the lead.

Aron Gunnarsson hit a post and, with home goalkeeper Matt Gilks and his defenders motionless, Bo-Kyung Kim pounced to score. To the Tangerines' credit, they were back in the game soon after. Tiago Gomes made his way into the box before a floated cross found Gary Taylor-Fletcher to head the equaliser.

Blackpool's luck remains out, though. Cardiff broke quickly and, although there was a hint of offside, Tommy Smith's shot rebounded off Craig Cathcart's head and into the top corner.

The result puts the Bluebirds 10 points clear at the summit of the Championship. Even their habit of spurning promotion chances when well placed in the second half of League campaigns should not stop the Welsh club from motoring towards the top flight.

Blackpool (4-3-3): Gilks; Basham, Broadfoot, Cathcart, Harris; Osbourne (Angel, 76), Gomes (Phillips, 60), Sylvestre; Ince, Taylor-Fletcher, Delfouneso.

Cardiff (4-4-1-1): Marshall; McNaughton, Hudson (Nugent, 48), Connolly, Taylor; Conway, Gunnarsson, Whittingham, Kim (Cowie, 76); Smith (Helguson, 64); Mason.

Referee Michael Naylor.