by Tom Pritchard
CARDIFF City boss Neil Warnock praised his side’s character for responding to Sunday’s defeat to Swansea with an impressive 4-2 win against wasteful Birmingham City.
Blues defender Kristian Pedersen poked the visitors ahead early on, but a Joe Ralls hat-trick – the first from any Cardiff player since 2012 – and a goal from Curtis Nelson saw the Bluebirds take the spoils.
Both sides had a men sent off, with Cardiff’s Danny Ward given his marching orders for a dangerous challenge on Kerim Mrabti, while the visitors lost their captain late on when Harlee Dean was dismissed for leading with his elbow.
“I’m tremendously proud of the them today, with the character they showed.” said Warnock.
“They were determined all week in training. They knew how bad they were at Swansea. I said to them ‘We’ve got to give the fans something back now, and the only way to get them back in our favour is to show them how much it means to us.’ ”
Pep Clotet’s side started the game very well, and could easily have found themselves two or three goals to the good.
Birmingham’s quick start came as no surprise to Warnock though.
“We knew they’d start well, because they’ve had such a good run,” the 70-year-old said.
“With the system they play, they’re going to get plenty of possession, but after the first 10 minutes I thought we really blunted their strengths.”
The Cardiff faithful made their thoughts on the slow start clear, chanting for the manager to sort it out. Warnock revealed that he could see exactly where they were coming from.
“I was actually chanting with them ‘Warnock, Warnock sort it out’ at the start, so I’m pleased that I managed to sort it out today.
“They’re a great group of fans, and you couldn’t blame them last week.”
Before today, the Bluebirds had gone four games without a win, and the nature of their defeat to Swansea meant that criticism towards the players had began to ramp up.
Warnock – who has been with the south Wales side since 2016 – labelled this victory as ‘one of the best’ during his time at the helm.
“It’s one of the best wins since I’ve been at the club, in the circumstances, because you could see how nervous the players were. They knew how much they’d let them [the fans] down.
“I said that we’ve got to put performances on for them now, and you saw at the end of the game, the way they stayed behind and saluted us.
“It does make you proud as a manager when you see the lads put a shift in like that.”