Goals: Mendez-Laing (12′), Bryson (23′), Paterson (45+3), Gardner (Pen 54′), Colin (90+5)
Cardiff City made it six consecutive wins with victory over strugglers Birmingham City on Saturday afternoon.
The Bluebirds consolidated second place with yet another win to make it 10 games unbeaten in the league.
Warnock’s men raced ahead in the first-half with a 3-0 lead going into the break and despite Birmingham grabbing themselves a route back into the game with two second-half goals, the result only momentarily looked in doubt given Cardiff’s first-half display.
The win means Cardiff stay five points clear of fourth placed Fulham, who also won today, and four points clear of Aston Villa who face leaders Wolves on Saturday night. Birmingham, meanwhile, remain in the relegation zone and two points from safety.
The Bluebirds started the better of the two teams as you would expect given the league positions of the two teams heading into this one.
Junior Hoilett was first to test the goalkeeper when his cross-turned-shot had to be saved by David Stockdale to prevent the effort flying into the top corner.
However, he couldn’t stop the next cross from flying in. Nathaniel Mendez-Laing fizzed a low ball into the box and after everyone in the middle failed to get a touch, it nestled into the bottom corner with Stockdale left disappointed with his goalkeeping.
And he wasn’t too pleased when Cardiff doubled their lead just 11 minutes later. This time the blame lay with his defence who failed to pick up their men after a corner was cleared back out to the inital taker Junior Hoilett.
The winger set it back to Joe Bennett who whipped in a low cross and there was Craig Bryson to stab home from close range.
It was an afternoon of mixed emotions for the Scottish midfielder, however. Loic Damour was called upon to replace Bryson who seemingly felt a tightness in his left leg and requested a substitution.
The Bluebirds coped well, though and marched on to grab a third goal during stoppage time in the first half.
Joe Bennett again provided the assist by crossing a perfect ball for Callum Paterson to head in at the far post. The Scot’s seventh goal of the campaign.
Birmingham made a change at the break with Marc Roberts coming on for Carl Jenkinson and the defender was involved in the visitors goal.
Marko Grujic was penalised for pulling the defender back following a corner and a spot-kick was awarded.
Gary Gardner stepped up and made no mistake, despite Etheridge getting a touch after guessing the right way.
Cardiff did respond well, though, despite Birmingham getting themselves a lifeline and the home side were left furious when Junior Hoilett was kicked in the box.
Sol Bamba lead the protests and was booked for his reaction, but he wasn’t the only one venting his anger at the referee.
While Cardiff continued to show their frustration, Birmingham got on with things and almost grabbed themselves a second.
Michael Morrison climbed highest to turn a corner kick goalwards from just three yards after he was left unmarked but somehow, Neil Etheridge came to his side’s rescue with a stunning save.
Birmingham then begun to run out of energy and Cardiff would regain the ascendancy.
Junior Hoilett should have made it four when he went through one-on-one with David Stockdale but somewhoe he rolled the ball; wide of the far post. And Loic Damour was also unlucky to see his acrobatic effort blocked at the far post.
Birmingham did grab another back just before the full-time whistle when Maxime Calin blasted one into the top right corner but there was not time to grab an equaliser as Cardiff secured their sixth straight win, compelling their opponents to a eighth straight loss.
Man of the Match – Joe Bennett
There were a couple of contenders on the back of this Cardiff City performance but Joe Bennett stands out.
He provided an assist for each of the Cardiff goals and defensively he did his job as well, keeping the dangerous Jota relatively quiet.
Callum Paterson also deserves a mention after putting in a fantastic shift, despite being a doubt for this one through injury.
The Scotsman grabbed his seventh goal of the season with Cardiff’s third and again, his work rate was through the roof as he made his way from box to box.
The Bluebirds were expecting a difficult afternoon given the injuries they have suffered and the ‘new manager bounce’ expected at Birmingham following the appointment of Garry Monk.
However, while the visitors didn’t always make it as easy as the scoreline suggests, the Bluebirds run riot in the first-half and that 45-minute performance is ultimately what killed the game.
Another professional display at home and yet another win as the Bluebirds go on to six consecutive wins.
It’s also 10 league games unbeaten and that means their last league defeat was as far back as January, against QPR.