Match Report – Wolves 2, Cardiff City 0

Neil Warnock has called on his players to be courageous and brave when they play West Ham United at home next Saturday.

Make no mistake, the Bluebirds are in serious trouble, but they can still stay up. I truly believe that.

It will take men of character, a belief in each other and a willingness from each player to push themselves further than they have ever gone before.

The next two and a half months could make City players club legends. They still have a chance and it’s time to grab it with everything they have.

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Cardiff’s doom and gloom merchants will be at work, but this is a time to believe and get behind the club.

Neil Warnock and his team achieved a near miracle in earning promotion and they will need to repeat that if they are to stay up.

The ability is there. Do City’s players have the heart and sheer bloody-mindedness to have a right go?

Now we will find out.

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“The players are bound to be flat when they have been beaten,” said Warnock. “If you don’t care, there’s something wrong, but the lads do care. Now we must regroup and go again.

“I have to regroup, too, and work out how I can get more out of the lads. They are an honest group.

“In the two and a half years I’ve been here, we’ve been in a similar situation with the doom merchants out a number of times. We must show courage and come out fighting next weekend in front of a great crowd.”

More than 30,000 spectators will be at Cardiff City Stadium for the home clash with West Ham and that could prove a critical fixture. A home win would one a massive boost and that is not beyond the Bluebirds.

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Cardiff were the better team against Wolves in the early stages, but two goals in two first half minutes by Diogo Jota and Raúl Jiménez sucked the belief out of Warnock’s Bluebirds.

“That’s been the story of the season really,” he said. “The goals were so disappointing. We never gave ourselves a chance.

“Goals change games. It would have been nice to get the first and we nearly did that.

“Wolves were nervous and we dominated that first 15 minutes, but ended up 2-0 down two minutes later. We can’t afford to give teams of this quality chances like that.

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“Ryan Bennett should have been sent off, too. It was a second bookable offence and he looked straight at the referee. We don’t seem to be getting those decisions.

“We have to stop feeling sorry for ourselves and make our own luck.”

City have now suffered three successive defeats, scoring one goal and conceding 10. That means victory against the Hammers is imperative, but a glance at the League table shows all is far from lost.

Far from it.

Jota broke the deadlock in the 16th minute, finishing confidently past man of the match Neil Etheridge following a fluent passing move.

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Two minutes later Jota teed up Jimenez, who fired low into the corner for his 11th league goal of the season.

Sol Bamba was carried off on a stretcher before half-time with a knee injury and already looks doubtful for the clash with Hammers.

Warnock made four changes to his starting line-up against Everton with Oumar Niasse, Joe Ralls, Víctor Camarasa and Lee Peltier replacing Leandro Bacuna, Manga, Junior Hoilett and Nathaniel Mendez-Laing.

The Bluebirds started brightly and Gunnarsson went close with a shot which was saved by goalkeeper John Ruddy after six minutes.

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City, though, have been caught out too many times this season and a swift counter attack ended with Jota firing home with 16 minutes gone.

Bamba’s effort led to Wolves’ top goal-scorer Raúl Jiménez making it 2-0 and Cardiff were deep in trouble.

City lost Bamba through an injury after 47 minutes with Manga taking over, while Wolves defender Ryan Bennett, who had already been booked, was fortunate to stay in the game after fouling Joe Bennett four minutes into added time.

It’s difficult to say why referee Andre Marriner did not show a second yellow card and Warnock said: “He should have been sent off, that is a booking anywhere else.”

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Wolves boss Nuno Espirito Santo told Match of the Day: “The first half was good, but not so good in the second half.

“Cardiff unbalanced themselves with their direct game. We had superiority and could have done better. A 2-0 scoreline is not a comfortable result ever, especially against Cardiff because they are so tough.

“I am always afraid something will happen.”

Wolves: Ruddy, Bennett, Jiménez, Boly, Coady, Gibbs-White (Moutinho 65’), Jota (Doherty 46’), Saiss, Vinagre, Dendoncker, Adama (Cavaleiro 74’). Subs Not Used: Norris, Neves, Costa, Jonny.

Referee: Andre Marriner

Attendance: 31,309