Cardiff edge Leicester to seize play-off initiative

LEICESTER: Cardiff seized the initiative in their Division Two play-off semi-final clash with Leicester as Peter Whittingham’s strike earned a 1-0 win in yesterday’s first leg at the Walkers Stadium.

Whittingham’s fine second half free-kick means Dave Jones’ side need just a draw in the return leg at home on Wednesday to reach the play-off final against Blackpool or Nottingham Forest at Wembley.

The south Wales team have not been in English football’s top-flight for 50 years and their surge towards promotion could be the perfect welcome present for Malaysian tycoon Tan Sri Vincent Tan’s consortium, who are ready to put a substantial stake into a club which only avoided a winding-up order over an unpaid tax bill earlier this month.

Datuk Chan Tien Ghee is set to replace current chairman Peter Ridsdale at the end of the month and he could be taking charge of a Premier League club if Cardiff can repeat this gutsy performance twice more.

Cardiff were on top in the early stages and Jay Bothroyd brought down a long clearance from David Marshall midway inside the Leicester half before advancing on goal and shooting just wide.

Bothroyd then released his strike partner Michael Chopra down the right side of the area, but his shot across goal went wide of the far post.

Five minutes before the break, Joe Ledley put Chris Burke clear down the right-hand side.

Chopra got across his marker at the near post but could only flick Burke’s low cross against the woodwork from close range.

Cardiff carried their goal threat in to the second half and Bothroyd powered a header over the crossbar from Kevin McNaughton’s cross.

It was not until the 53rd minute that Leicester produced their first noteworthy effort on goal as Richie Wellens’ low shot from 25 yards flew narrowly wide.

Whittingham put Cardiff ahead in the 78th minute with a curling free-kick from 25 yards which deceived goalkeeper Chris Weale and beat him via the near post. — AFP

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