Cardiff v Nottingham Forest
Tuesday February 25, 19:45
Cardiff slump to drab Stoke defeat
Cardiff's play-off hopes took a dent on Saturday as the Bluebirds limped to a 2-0 loss at the hands of lowly Stoke. Neil Harris' outfit barely laid a glove on the Potters with a Callum Paterson own goal in the opening 45 minutes and Joe Allen strike in the second period proving decisive and ending the visitors' seven-game unbeaten streak in abrupt fashion.
Without the injured Lee Tomlin in the side, Cardiff had to find their creativity elsewhere if they were to get anything out of the game. The Bluebirds started bright with Albert Adomah providing the attacking spark and Will Vaulks' long throw-ins soon became a feature, but slowly, Stoke started to work their way into the game and City lost control of the contest.
Post-match Harris accepted his second were second-best, saying, "I was very disappointed in my side, I felt from the first whistle Stoke looked like a team scrapping for their lives and we didn't match them. It pains me to say that. It is not often a Neil Harris team will be second best all over the pitch. For me as a manager it is very disappointing."
Forest fail to fire in front of expectant fans
Nottingham Forest head coach Sabri Lamouchi admitted, "we missed an opportunity and it is not the first time, but I hope it will be the last time" after seeing the Tricky Trees held to a frustrating 0-0 draw at home to QPR on Saturday. The Reds could have moved up into third-place in the Championship with a victory at a blustery City Ground.
Forest dominated the first half and thought they had taken the lead, only for Joe Worrall's fine header to be controversially ruled out because Joe Lolley's corner was deemed to have been delivered from outside the quadrant. Lamouchi's side came remained the more ambitious and dangerous throughout the contest, restricting the visitors to half-chances.
Lolley sent a header just past the post in time added on, but the Reds only mustered two efforts on-target from a drab game played in front of a packed crowd. Lamouchi added, "We created some chances but, unfortunately, it was not enough. We missed the last touch, the last pass, the last piece of the jigsaw." Midfielder Samba Sow is a doubt for Tuesday.
Spoils to be shared in Welsh capital?
Cardiff boast an exemplary recent record against Nottingham Forest with the Bluebirds enjoying victories in nine of their past 10 unbeaten encounter against the Tricky Trees (W9-D1-L0). The Welsh club have taken top honours in five of their last six here against the Reds (W5-D1-L0) and were also 1-0 winners when the two teams at the City Ground in November.
Cardiff 2.486/4 have only been beaten once in the capital this season in Championship action (W8-D7-L1), the fewest home defeats recorded in the second-tier this term. Despite that apparent positive return, the Bluebirds have a solitary success when entertaining the top-half here (W1-D5-L1) and have been held to draws 3.4012/5 in five of their last seven here.
Nottingham Forest 3.18 inconsistent nature when taking on the Championship's lesser lights could prove costly come May. However, the Reds have impressed when going toe-to-toe with the division's elite, returning W6-D5-L2 against the division's top-10. The guests are also protecting an unbeaten record at top-half clubs under Sabri Lamouchi's (W3-D5-L0).
Tight tussle forecast for Tuesday
Goals have often proven in short supply in Cardiff this season. A health 9/16 (56%) of league fixtures here have featured fewer than three goals, including six of seven when top-half teams have visited. It's a trend that's matched by Nottingham Forest's away days with the Reds taking a more conservative approach to matches outside of their City Ground home.
The Tricky Trees have scored in all bar two of their 17 away days but five of seven trips to the top-10 have also paid out for Under 2.5 Goals backers 1.814/5. With the duo content to keep things tight, plus a high draw bias in similar circumstances this season, it could be worth having an interest in the 3.95 available on the Draw and Under 2.5 Goals here.