Preston North End were out paced and out muscled on a miserable night in the Welsh capital.
Around 200 North End fans were inside the Cardiff City Stadium to see North End roll over far too easily against a typical Neil Warnock side who seemed to win almost every 50/50 ball in the game.
North End played some decent football at times but looked very lightweight particularly in the middle of the park and allowed the Bluebirds to dominate for much of the game.
Our best period was at the start of the second half when I counted five decent chances that all went begging before the visitors’ contribution to the game fizzled tamely out in a stadium barely one third full. One positive note for North End was the display of Tyias Browning at right back as the Everton loanee gave an accomplished display that will only get better with a few matches under his belt.
North End started off well enough with McGeady and Horgan giving some width down the flanks and Gally conducting the orchestra from the centre of the park.
Unfortunately, though, the home side soon got on the offensive and the North End defence were finding it tricky to keep up with the pace of Hoilett on a fast wet surface. It was no surprise when Cardiff took the lead after Johnson had brought down Hoilett in the box and the experienced Peter Whittingham made no mistake from the spot.
North End were under real pressure and the inevitable happened when Zohore powered through the middle of the North End defence and calmly chipped Maxwell to make it 2-0 before the half hour mark.
Pearson had a stinging shot saved just before the break but there could be very little arguing with the half time score line with Simon Grayson’s men well and truly second best.
After the break North End started to take the game to the home side and for a quarter of an hour it looked like we might get back into the game.
Chances came and went with Tom Clarke probably missing the best chance firing over the bar from close range.
Hugill, Beckford and McGeady all had decent chance but with each miss North Ends chances of taking anything from the game were diminishing by the moment.
Cardiff weathered the storm and got on the front foot again but North End defended much better in the second but still managed to give the ball away far too often in the centre of the park and lost too many balls that they really should have won.
A miserable night all in all for PNE both on and off the pitch. Too many players had off nights and our lack of strength in the middle was the defining memory to take away from the game. An off night perhaps but there was plenty for the manager to work on and I am sure he was as dismayed as the fans with the performance of the team on a night when I expected to take something from the game.
A quick chance to redeem ourselves comes at Oakwell on Saturday as North End take on Barnsley but we need to be much more at it physically and mentally if we are not to get the Barnsley Chop.
I would imagine the manager will have words to say when the players report back to Springfields for training.