Norwich City 1 Cardiff City 0: Ridsdale era at Cardiff begins with a wobble

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The Independent Football

The thing with change is that, well, it changes things. For Norwich, a change of manager has brought back-to-back victories; for Cardiff, a change in the boardroom brought defeat and their worst performance of the season. Given the verve with which they have played up until now, it was hardly a fitting way for Sam Hammam to hand over to the former Leeds chairman Peter Ridsdale, but Saturday's performance did demonstrate just how necessary the transfer funds from the new consortium are.

As Cardiff have established themselves at the top of the Championship, the nagging concern has always been the slenderness of their squad. Dave Jones, the Cardiff manager, did his best to maintain that the absence of his leading scorer Michael Chopra through suspension had not been a decisive factor, but the evidence of what had gone before rather countered that.

The striker returns for next Saturday's match at home to Derby, but Jones will be without his right-back Kerrea Gilbert, who was sent off with Paul McVeigh after the pair clashed in injury time.

Particularly in the first period, Cardiff simply did not have their usual energy or imagination, and were fortunate to trail only to Dickson Etuhu's seventh-minute curler. "You're going to miss influential players and Michael is an influential player for the team," his strike-partner Steve Thompson said.

"But it was disappointing. Everybody could have done better. We've played 13 games, and you're going to have one where you don't play well. If we can go on another run of games, say 12 again, and then have a bad one we'll be quite happy."

Cardiff can count themselves unfortunate that their bad day saw them meet a Norwich side rejuvenated under Peter Grant. "When someone new comes in, it gives you a lift and everyone's out there to prove themselves," the striker Lee Croft said. That is an understatement. Given the slapstick defending in the 3-3 draw at QPR last week, for Grant to have inspired two clean sheets in his first two games borders on the miraculous.

Norwich's new era has begun with renewed hope, Cardiff's with a wobble.

Goal: Etuhu (7) 1-0.

Norwich City (4-3-3): Ashdown; Colin, Shackell, Doherty, Drury; Safri (Dublin, 90), Etuhu, Robinson; Croft, Earnshaw, Huckerby (McVeigh, 68). Substitutes not used: Gallacher (gk), Fleming, Ryan Jarvis.

Cardiff City (4-4-2): Alexander; Gilbert, Purse, Loovens, Chambers; Parry, Scimeca, McPhail, Ledley (Flood, 82); Glombard (Kamara, 46), Thompson (Campbell, 72). Substitutes not used: Howard, Johnson.

Referee: T Bates (Staffordshire).

Booked: Norwich: Drury, Croft; Cardiff: Loovens, Flood.

Sent off: Norwich: McVeigh 90; Cardiff: Gilbert 90.

Man of the match: Etuhu.

Attendance: 25,014.

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