A refreshing air of euphoria swept over the Welsh Capital as Cardiff City cruised to a 2-0 victory at Ashton Gate, returning the bragging rights of the Severnside Derby to the other side of the border.
Two quick-fire goals from Curtis Nelson and Kieffer Moore secured victory for the Bluebirds and marked the first triumph of the Mick McCarthy era.
Harry Wilson’s perfection-laced delivery following a free kick found the head of Curtis Nelson, who duly registered his first goal of the campaign.
Whilst the former Oxford stalwart is ill-accustomed to finding the back of the net, City hitman Kieffer Moore is the polar opposite. Scoring his third goal in as many games, Moore took his season tally up to eleven as he converted a supremely-executed cross from Sheyi Ojo just seven minutes later.
The hosts, who have now lost four of their last six matches across all competitions, were unable to find a route back into the game as the resolute Bluebirds allowed little threat towards their goal.
Still without a defeat under the leadership of Mick McCarthy, Cardiff look much harder to break down defensively. They will need to be on Wednesday as they travel to face Rotherham, a side with twelve goals in their last five outings.
Bristol meanwhile, look forward to a midweek trip to Sheffield United in the FA Cup followed by a visit to fifth-placed Watford next weekend.
Cardiff City supporters will be waxing lyrical about the result- and rightly so.
Here are the five main talking points from Cardiff’s elementary victory in Somerset.
- Back to winning ways
We all know and cherish that indescribable feeling of clinching three points. But for Cardiff, embracing the ecstatic emotions of victory were well-belated.
In fact, this came as Cardiff’s first win in nine matches- the last being an enthralling 3-2 overpowering of Birmingham City in mid-December.
Since that point, there have been a selection of affairs that you feel the Bluebirds could have- and maybe should have walked away with three points. Cast your mind back to that frustrating 1-0 defeat away to Nottingham Forest in the third round of the FA Cup, or last weekend’s 1-1 draw with Millwall.
Now though, it serves as a refreshing re-assurance to see a crafted implementation of end product- a factor which has so often eluded Cardiff this term.
But most of all, to see Cardiff City come out of a game with three points is a feeling many in the Welsh Capital and beyond have sorely missed.
For a side that have appeared so depleted and devoid of confidence at times, a victory alone- never mind in the Severnside Derby will come as a huge momentum boost.
2. Cardiff City need to sign Sheyi Ojo on a permanent basis
Across what has been a bitterly disappointing campaign in the Welsh Capital, on-loan flyer Sheyi Ojo has emerged as a rare beacon of captivation in this corner of the world.
Currently, Ojo is enjoying his finest season to date. Having found the back of the net on four occasions, the 23-year old has also weighed in with six assists- the same total as Norwich City’s Emi Buendia.
And Ojo is no Buendia. However, the fact Ojo has registered the same number of assists as the Argentine is an indication of simply how impressive the wide man has proved to be.
Cardiff have struggled in this area of the pitch, too. The likes of Junior Hoilett, Josh Murphy and even Harry Wilson have all come under scrutiny for a lack of consistency.
But in Ojo, Mick McCarthy’s side look to have a winger who can maintain consistent, influential performances.
Also capable of playing off the shoulder or in the number 10 role, the former Rangers man is a strong carrier of the ball and can almost effortlessly dispatch fear-inducing deliveries into the box.
With a future at Anfield seemingly out of sight, it is surely imperative that Cardiff act quick to snap up Ojo on a permanent deal.
3. Sensible approach
As the cliche goes, 2-0 is the most dangerous lead in football. And with that advantage, it is easy to become complacent or get carried away. It happens way too often.
For Cardiff though, that was far from the case.
After going two goals to the good, the outcry was for the visitors to add further inflict on Bristolian souls. By continuing to push up, you run the risk of being over-exposed at the back. Quite frankly, there was no need to go all-out attack.
Instead, the Bluebirds opted to gradually transition their attacking movements. There were still plenty of opportunities created on Cardiff’s behalf- most notably, a headed chance from Ojo not long before half time which was frantically tipped over the bar by Bristol’s Daniel Bentley.
Overall though, there was a widespread aura of sensibility in their approach. Cardiff advanced upfield when necessary whilst allowing the hosts to dominate the lions share of possession. This allowed McCarthy’s men to catch Bristol quickly on the break once the ball had been given away.
It was glory in action.
4. Kieffer Moore knows where the back of the net is, doesn’t he?
Already an endeared figure of adoration in the Welsh Capital due to his exploits on the International stage, you could feel that Kieffer Moore is now a figure of worship.
And why should that not be the case?
Imagining where Cardiff would be without the goalscoring endeavour of the 28-year old really does not bear thinking about. Truthfully, it is a scary prospect.
In today’s transfer market, securing the services of a player like Moore for only 2m is nothing short of a serious coup.
Brought in from Wigan Athletic over the summer, Moore has already eclipsed last season’s 10 goal haul for the Lactics with eleven to his name this season.
Impressively, Moore’s eleven strikes have came across the course of twenty-three league outings for the Bluebirds, which equates to nearly a goal every two matches.
The focal point. The goalscorer. The utter completion of a forward. Kieffer Moore is the striker Cardiff City have craved for a long, long time.
5. Is five at the back the way forward?
It all came together on the day.
The game plan was deployed to perfection and the formation was complementary to the flow of the game.
It seems, after a lengthy period of tactical experimentation, Cardiff City may have finally found their most effective formula.
Playing with wing backs allows the team to push up high and on many occasions, Joe Bennett and Perry Ng were acting as wingers. By racing forward, joining the attack and frequently overlapping, Cardiff’s wing backs offered an extra dimension on the offensive front.
Re-deployed in his favoured number 10 role, Harry Wilson showcased why he can be the creative centrepiece to the team when used most effectively. Playing centrally allowed the Welshman to drop deep to get on the ball and drift into pockets of space.
The Bristol players were quite simply powerless to prevent Wilson. On a number of occasions, the 23-year old was viciously scythed down- which seemed to be the only way Dean Holden’s side could stop the playmaker from causing damage.
Additionally, Ojo thrived whilst playing off the shoulder of Moore. With no fit left-back in the Bristol City ranks, Ojo would often drift wide to attack this vulnerable area. A menace all afternoon, the starlet subdued the hosts to a series of problems with his speed, power and direct ability to drive forward with the ball at his feet.
Moreover, the combative midfield pairing of Will Vaulks and Joe Ralls sat deep and did the dirty work to great extent, subsequently giving the creative, attack-minded individuals the license to venture up the pitch.
It is not often that you can make this statement in football, but there really was not a single bad performance amongst the entirety of the team.
Conclusively, it was a remarkable performance filled with tactical flawlessness, creative dynamism and a shared collective contribution.
We all know what the Bluebirds are capable of conjuring when they are flying. Could this change of tactical strategy provide a rebirth in South Wales?