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Pratley brace helps Swans sink City
Published : 07 Nov 2009 14:57:22
Three rousing encounters caused a host of controversial moments both on and off the field last season as the two sides met for the first time in almost a decade. But thankfully a thrilling game of football will attract all the headlines this time around, with Pratley sweeping home what proved to be the winner in the 61st minute to leave Cardiff still longing for their first derby triumph since 1997. Nathan Dyer headed Swansea into an early lead and, with the hosts completely in control, Pratley doubled it with just 16 minutes on the clock. But Cardiff turned the game on its head just after the half-hour mark with two goals in three minutes courtesy of Jay Bothroyd and Mark Hudson to level an astonishing first half. Yet it was left for Pratley to settle matters just minutes after Ross McCormack had seen his free-kick hit the crossbar, much to the delight of a jubilant home crowd. Both sides were hit by injury problems ahead of the eagerly-anticipated clash. Most notably Cardiff who were without the division's top two goalscorers in suspended Michael Chopra and Peter Whittingham, along with midfielder Stephen McPhail. Meanwhile, Swansea were already missing Mark Gower when influential defender Garry Monk was forced out shortly before kick-off having picked up what was believed to be a calf injury in the warm-up. But that was soon put to one side as the game got under way and, with a pulsating atmosphere ringing around the Liberty Stadium, Bluebirds keeper David Marshall saved well to deny Craig Beattie. The home side side were all over Cardiff in the early stages and it came as no real surprise when they took an early lead after just nine minutes, Dyer heading home Ashley Williams' cross from close range. Dave Jones' side were getting completely overrun in midfield with Swansea marauding forward at every opportunity and it was soon 2-0. Federico Bessone, promoted from the bench due to Monk's injury, found Beattie in the area and he duly knocked the ball on for Pratley to volley home and send the majority of the 18,209 crowd into dreamland. Swansea's blistering start had left the visitors, and 1,800 travelling fans, stunned. But a remarkable opening half-hour was completely turned around within the space of three minutes. Bothroyd latched on to Chris Burke's throughball to fire home in style and grab a lifeline with the visitors' first real chance of the game after 32 minutes. And it was soon 2-2, with Hudson choosing the perfect moment to head his first goal for the club from McCormack's free-kick and ensure a breathtaking opening 45 minutes finished all square. McCormack's well-taken set-piece proved crucial in the first half and he almost made a direct contribution in the 58th minute when his free-kick rebounded off the crossbar. Yet an action-packed encounter once again swung Swansea's way just after the hour mark when Pratley ghosted in at the near post to convert Bessone's inch-perfect cross. Clear goalscoring opportunities became limited as the encounter wore on with both sides feeling the effects of a breathless first half. Cardiff inevitably pushed forward in the closing stages and set up a frantic finale but Swansea held firm, with an emotional Paulo Sousa left congratulating his players on the pitch at the final whistle.