Josh Bowler scores only goal of the game to earn Bluebirds win at Birmingham (2024)

Josh Bowler scored the only goal of the game as Cardiff City snatched a 1-0 win over Birmingham City at St Andrew's.

It was a high-octane match, with chances at both ends, but it was a sweetly-struck finish from the Nottingham Forest loanee, the fourth of the season for him, in the second half which earned Erol Bulut's side all three points in the Midlands.

An injury-hit Bluebirds named only 19 players in their matchday squad, with no Mahlon Romeo nor Callum Robinson included. There was, however, a rare start for Aaron Ramsey, his first since September, but it wasn't to last. More on that later.

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The crowd at St Andrew's were on a knife edge, with supporters firmly in the knowledge of just how important this fixture was for their survival, with every positive piece of play cheered and every nervy moment very much felt.

With Blues keen to really go for it, it made for an exciting, end-to-end game, with the hosts almost getting on the scoresheet early thanks to Koji Miyoshi's low drive from 20 yards, but it smashed straight into the post, with Ethan Horvath rooted to the ground.

Cardiff would have to wait half an hour before they registered a serious shot on goal and it came by virtue of an impressive, driving run from the ever-industrious Karlan Grant. The West Brom loanee picked the ball up inside his own half and ran 30, 40 then 50 yards before chopping inside, when he saw the ball fall kindly into Yakou Meite's path. The striker's hammered shot from the edge of the box, however, was straight at John Ruddy.

Birmingham tried to hit back straight away with their own chance and it was a lovely strike from Wales' Jordan James, whose bending shot from just outside City's area arced inches wide of the mark.

Birmingham's willingness to take the attack to Cardiff actually played into the Bluebirds' hands a little, because it naturally opened up the game and gave the visitors more natural opportunities to break, while playing pretty minimal football.

Ramsey was even picking up pockets of space and looking to free up the likes of Grant and Bowler, but one moment seemed to spell the end for the Wales captain. Miyoshi flicked the ball over Ramsey's head and he turned to chase after it before his face screwed into a very visible wince. He spent the next 10 minutes before the break hobbling and limping around, while Rubin Colwill was given the order to get stripped and ready. He managed to hold on to half-time, just, but it was another disappointing sight in what has been a frustrating homecoming season for the Bluebirds midfielder.

Colwill did replace Ramsey at the break, but had to wait 20 minutes before his crucial intervention. Birmingham came out hot after the break and the crowd really got behind them. Cardiff, however, weathered the storm admirably.

As Birmingham pushed, more gaps opened for Cardiff and that is when the visitors struck. Bowler played Colwill in down the flank and the Welshman fizzed a perfectly-weighted, low ball back into the Forest man. Bowler instinctively hit it and, despite nothing going right for him up to that point, watched as the ball buried itself into the bottom corner.

There was also a Championship debut for Cian Ashford, a proud moment for him and his family, as Cardiff pushed to extend their lead. Colwill found Grant in the box a couple of times in quick succession, but the winger's shots were frustratingly blocked or deflected wide of the mark.

Birmingham pushed late on, but Cardiff's defence, and goalkeeper, stood firm amid the onslaught. With Bulut's future undecided, how important that result will be for his own future remains to be seen.

Birmingham City XI: Ruddy; Laird, Aiwu, Sanderson, Buchanan (Drameh 70); Bielik (Hogan 79); Miyoshi (Anderson 70), James (Pritchard 70), Paik, Bacuna (Gardner 86); Stansfield

Subs: Etheridge, Sunjic, Dozzell, T Roberts.

Cardiff City XI: Horvath; Ng, Goutas, Phillips, Collins; Ralls (Turnbull 81), Siopis; Bowler (Ashford 70), Ramsey (R. Colwill 46), Grant; Meite (Diedhiou 70).

Subs: Turner, Sawyers, J. Colwill, Tanner.

Josh Bowler scores only goal of the game to earn Bluebirds win at Birmingham (2024)
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