Southend United 0 Cardiff City 3: Chopra shows trickery to keep Cardiff flying high

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The Independent Football

There is a versatility in Cardiff's football that should ensure that their current table-topping form is sustained as the season progresses. In this performance they demonstrated an ability to mix direct counter-attacking with more patient build-up play, and that most Championship teams shall struggle to contain them.

Southend's unbeaten home record was destroyed. The understanding between Cardiff's battering ram, Steven Thompson, and the tricky Michael Chopra is difficult to deal with but attacking potential of their midfielders is potent too.

"I don't care who scores," said Cardiff's manager Dave Jones, who praised his team's work-rate. "With two or three minutes to go, we were still in their faces''.

Initially, Southend were fearlessly tenacious, Freddy Eastwood personifying that when dispossessing Kerrea Gilbert in a move which ended with Billy Paynter hitting the crossbar.

It did not last. Stephen McPhail picked out Darren Purse from a free-kick, and the Cardiff captain snuck between Adam Barrett and Peter Clarke before sliding the ball home.

Cardiff doubled their lead in first-half injury time. Southend struggled to clear following a flurry of activity after a Paul Parry corner. Chopra had his back to goal, but turned intelligently and dragged the ball back for Riccardo Scimeca, who stabbed the ball in from eight yards; the game was effectively over. "They didn't allow us to get back in it,'' said Southend manager Steve Tilson, who rated Cardiff as the best his side have faced so far.

Cardiff's confidence shone through after half-time, and Chopra showed his vision again, on the left flank, when teeing up Joe Ledley, who scooped over from close range. The same pairing combined more potently soon afterwards as Chopra picked up the ball on the other wing and torpedoed it towards the edge of the six-yard box where the ball appeared to go in off Simon Francis but was awarded to Ledley.

Goals: Purse (0-1) 11, Scimeca (0-2) 45, Ledley (0-3) 65.

Southend (4-4-2): Flahavan; Francis, Barrett, Clarke, Hammell; Campbell-Ryce (Hooper 58), Maher, Hunt, Gower (Ricketts 69); Paynter (Guttridge 82). Substitutes not: Collis, Sodje.

Cardiff (4-4-2): Alexander; Gilbert, Purse, Loobens, McNaughton; Parry (Kamara 80), McPhail, Scimeca, Ledley (Flood 89); Thompson, Chopra (Campbell 90). Substitutes not: Glombard, Johnson.

Booked: Cardiff Loobens, Thompson.

Referee: K Stroud.

Man of the match: McPhail.

Attendance: 7,901.