Cardiff City 1 Swansea City 0: A header from Steven Caulker against his old club gives Bluebirds the bragging rights in first Premier League Welsh derby

Swansea goalkeeper Michel Vorm was sent off late on at the Cardiff City Stadium

Cardiff City Stadium

The first Premier League match  between Welsh clubs was no classic, the anticipation greater than the event, but Cardiff and their supporters, who have waited so long for their turn at the top table, cared not a jot for all that  after claiming local bragging rights with a goal from Steven Caulker, the England centre-half, who spent the 2011-12 season on loan at Swansea.

It was a result Cardiff needed – only their second win in eight league matches since that epic victory over Manchester City.

The goal, after 62 minutes, saw Caulker outjump Chico Flores at the near post to head home Craig Bellamy’s corner from six yards. Jonjo Shelvey would have prevented it had he not deserted his position on the line inside the upright.

Fraizer Campbell, on as substitute, might have doubled the margin in added time had he not been taken out by Michel Vorm, who was sent off for racing from his penalty area to bring down the Cardiff striker with a flying boot. Swansea had already used all their substitutes so Angel Rangel went in goal and saved the consequent free-kick, taken by Peter Whittingham. 

Swansea were dominant in the first half but faded badly after the break and forfeited all three points for failing to translate possession into goals when the force was with them.

At the start the atmosphere was red or white hot, depending on your chosen colours, stoked up shortly before the kick-off by a high decibel rendition of the Cardiff anthem, “Men of Harlech” and the return to the starting line-up of Craig Bellamy, who enjoys iconic status locally and was greeted accordingly.

The two clubs have geography in common, but not much else. In terms of playing styles, it is not exactly Beauty v The Beast, but aesthetic v pragmatic probably covers it. Typical here was Malky Mackay’s selection for Cardiff of Don Cowie, a prosaic grafter, ahead of Kim Bo-kyung, who is much more of a creative influence, or Craig Noone, a genuine winger.

The pattern of play was entirely predictable: Swansea passing the ball around nicely and Cardiff defending assiduously and in numbers,  hoping to nick a goal from a set piece, which is exactly what happened.

The Swans were on the front foot from the start, fashioning three chances in the first 10 minutes. Michu, set up by Wayne Routledge and Nathan Dyer, volleyed over from near the penalty spot then had a resounding drive from the edge of the D  parried by David Marshall; Dyer fired wide after a lovely crossfield pass from Ashley Williams.

Cardiff’s only noteworthy goal attempt in a disappointing first half saw Bellamy’s free-kick  deflected behind by Leon Britton. Their second strike, after 50 minutes, was no more productive, Whittingham shooting well wide from 20 yards.

Cardiff  became more  adventurous after the interval and had imaginative  appeals for a penalty rightly rejected when Cowie, supplied by Bellamy, fell unconvincingly under Williams’s aerial challenge. Their improvement was  rewarded when Caulker weighed in with his second goal of the season.

It was a lift the club needed. In recent weeks Cardiff’s supporters have been preoccupied with events off the field, notably the contratemps between Mackay and the club’s owner, Vincent Tan.  The schism first manifested itself in the sacking, against Mackay’s wishes, of his head of recruitment, Iain Moody, and his replacement by Alisher Apsalyamov, a 23-year-old footballing novice from Kazakhstan, who had been painting the stadium as a work experience trainee at the start of the season. Apsalyamov’s  appointment took on a farcical aspect on Thursday when the Home Office discovered he had no work permit and ordered him to stand down, temporarily at least.

Further disquiet among fans followed the revelation on Friday that Etien Velikonja, the Slovenian striker for whom Cardiff paid NK Maribor £1.7m, was signed by Tan, not by Mackay or Moody. Plainly not up to the standard required, Velikonja has made only three League appearances in 16 months, two of them as substitute and none since promotion to the Premier League.

Swansea, meanwhile, go from strength to strength, a model of how a club should be run. The board have hired a series of excellent managers whose teams have produced an attractive brand of football that continues to win new friends wherever they go.

And having put good men in charge, they let them manage, free from the boardroom interference that has reared its ugly head at Cardiff. In a further contrast, the Swans showed a net profit of £15.3m on the year ending 31 May 2013.  Meanwhile their great rivals owe a potentially ruinous debt to Tan, who charges interest on it.

All that said, it was not Swansea’s day. They huffed and puffed in search of equality and Wilfried Bony, on for Michu, prodded wide at close range and Jonathan de Guzman threatened with a free-kick that Marshall spilled before recovering. The Scotland goalkeeper was more impressive in repelling a piledriver from De Guzman before attention focused on the other keeper’s rush of blood.

Cardiff City (4-2-3-1): Marshall 6; Theophile-Catherine 7, Caulker 7, Turner 6, Taylor 6; Medel 8, Whittingham 7; Cowie 6, Mutch 6; Bellamy 8; Odemwingie 6. Subs: Lewis, Hudson, Campbell, Kim, Noone, Gunnarsson, Maynard.

Swansea City (4-2-3-1): Vorm 5; Rangel 6, Flores 6, Williams 7, Taylor 6; De Guzman 6,  Britton 6; Dyer 6, Shelvey 6, Routledge 6; Michu 6. Subs: Tremmel, Amat, Bony, Tiendalli, Canas, Pozuelo, Vazquez.

Referee: M Dean (Wirral)

Man of the match: Bellamy

Suggested Topics
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent