Jonathan Hogg was sent off after an ugly collision with Harry Arter as Huddersfield and Cardiff ground out a goalless draw that did little to advertise either side’s Premier League pedigree.
Both clubs have been tipped as relegation candidates and, if this was really the earliest imaginable “six-pointer” of the season, then it was a match that suggested a long, hard campaign could be on the way for David Wagner and Neil Warnock
Hogg saw red just after the hour, aggravated by Arter but responding boorishly, pushing forward with his head then shoving Arter to the ground. That gave Cardiff time to press for a win that had not previously seemed likely, yet they proved no more able than their hosts to summon a cutting edge worthy of the top flight.
Wagner had spoken prior to the match about the closeness of the competition between his two goalkeepers, Ben Hamer and Jonas Lössl, and he persevered with the former despite the former Leicester man having conceded nine goals in his first two outings for the club. Hamer did not get long, however, to justify that show of faith, coming off injured after less than quarter of an hour.
His sole contribution was at least a positive one – tearing from his line to throw himself in front of Nathaniel Mendez-Laing, who had beaten three Huddersfield players with a couple of smart touches and a muscular run. Mendez-Laing made way immediately after the collision, via a stretcher, with Hamer lingering just long enough to allow Lössl a reasonable warm-up.
The Terriers were allowed to set the pace in the first half and enjoyed some success down Cardiff’s left, where Josh Murphy was failing to support Joe Bennett. A handful of testing crosses made their way in from the flank but Sol Bamba was the dominant aerial presence in the away box, consistently clearing his lines.
The closest Huddersfield came to taking advantage was when Philip Billing, a bright performer in midfield, beat his man and whipped an awkward ball back across goal. It was only half-cleared and met with conviction by Terence Kongolo, who drilled a powerful effort into the side netting from 20 yards. Huddersfield’s chances of turning the screw evaporated in the 63rd minute with Hogg’s violent reaction to Arter.
Now the onus fell on Cardiff to search for a win. Bamba met a corner too timidly and Danny Ward was denied by Lössl’s near-post save. Sean Morrison had the best opening, nodding wide with an unmarked header from six yards, before Bobby Reid spurned a couple of late invitations.
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