Stoke City 2 Cardiff City 1: Griffin delighted to be part of Stoke's 'ugly' push for promotion

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The Independent Online

After being roughly handled and, at times, severely mauled as part of Derby County's beleaguered defence this season, you might think a swift return to the Premier League would be one of the lesser-enticing thoughts presently running through the mind of Andy Griffin. But, not a bit of it.

The former Pride Park defender is, in fact, relishing the prospect and, with his new club Stoke City's Championship promotion credentials gathering considerable strength, he might just get his wish.

So determined is Griffin to return to the top flight after his recent £300,000 switch from Derby, and maybe prove a personal point, he issued a rallying call to his new team-mates after they ended Cardiff's nine-match unbeaten run to firmly fix themselves behind West Bromwich Albion, Watford and Bristol City as automatic promotion possibles.

"We had a very good chance last season, but blew it," Griffin said. "We know we are in a fantastic position again, so let's not abuse it this time. Let's take it by the scruff of the neck, show no fear."

On the evidence of this match, the Premier League will not lick its lips at the prospect of welcoming either of these two sides. The first half was dreary, enlivened only by Roger Johnson's slapstick 40th-minute own goal – the second half much better once Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink had renewed Cardiff hopes after Ricardo Fuller's penalty had appeared to put the game beyond their reach.

The ageing Hasselbaink later spurned a chance to equalise he would surely have taken in his prime, and Griffin admitted Stoke must do better. "At times we were our own worst enemy and gave the ball away too cheaply. We had to play a bit ugly to get the points, but if we play ugly and it gets us to the Premiership then that suits me fine and I'm sure it will suit everyone else at the club."

"Some people like football to be the pretty game and I can understand that, but we'll play to our strengths. We are a big, physical team with plenty of confidence and we are loving it."

Goals: Johnson og (39) 1-0, Fuller (pen 57) 2-0, Hasselbaink (63) 2-1.

Stoke City (4-4-2): Simonsen; Griffin, Cort, Shawcross, Pugh; Lawrence, Diao, Delap, Cresswell; Sidibe (Whelan, 82), Fuller. Substitutes not used: Hoult (gk), Zakuani, Parkin, Gallagher.

Cardiff City (4-4-2): Oakes; McNaughton, R Johnson, Loovens, Capaldi; Ledley, Rae, McPhail, Whittingham; Hasselbaink (Thompson, 83), Parry. Substitutes not used: Enckelman (gk), Purse, Ramsey, Blake.

Referee: S Bennett (Kent).

Booked: Stoke Cresswell; Cardiff McNaughton, Johnson, Rae.

Man of the match: Lawrence.

Attendance: 15,045.

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