MX23RW : Monday, July 16 23:51:16

Preview: Cardiff City vs. Bristol City

Sports Mole looks ahead to Monday night's Severnside derby in the Championship between Cardiff City and Bristol City.

Bristol City make the short 40-mile trip across the Bristol Channel to face Cardiff City in the Severnside derby on Monday night.

The Robins are beginning to find their feet in the Championship after initially struggling following promotion, but it will be a tough task to beat a Cardiff side unbeaten in four.


Cardiff

Joe Mason of Cardiff City celebrates his sides first goal with Sean Morrison of Cardiff City as he deflected the ball onto George Friend of Middlesbrough for an own goal during the Sky Bet Championship match between Cardiff City and Middlesbrough at the C© Getty Images

Russell Slade's side have got over the disappointing defeat at Rotherham United last month with a four-game unbeaten run, and the most impressive result of all came on Tuesday night as they beat one of the seven sides above them.

Middlesbrough were the visitors to the Welsh capital and the match was headed for a goalless draw when Boro full-back George Friend inadvertently diverted the ball into his own net to hand the Bluebirds the points.

That sees them eighth in the table with 20 points to their name. They are eight adrift of leaders Brighton & Hove Albion and four behind second-placed Birmingham City with over a quarter of the season now over with.

As the final two months of the calendar year edge closer, Cardiff want to maintain their position in the playoff picture by the turn of the year in an attempt to convince owner Vincent Tan to bolster the squad in January.

Cardiff cannot fall any lower than ninth this weekend, but could equally climb as high as third depending on results elsewhere.

Under Slade, Cardiff have been stronger at home than away and they have won four of their last five at the Cardiff City Stadium.

Recent form: LLWDDW


Bristol City

Sam Baldock of Brighton equalises despite the efforts of goalkeeper Frank Fielding and Aden Flint of Bristol City during the Sky Bet Championship match between Brighton & Hove Albion and Bristol City at Amex Stadium on October 20, 2015 in Brighton, Englan© Getty Images

The Robins had a chance to go four unbeaten themselves in midweek but suffered late heartbreak away at leaders Brighton as substitute Bobby Zamora scored another late winner down at The Amex.

A sixth league defeat of the season, then, but it could have been very different for Steve Cotterill's side if they had taken their chances on the South Coast. On another day, they would have become the first team to beat Brighton this season and Cotterill was pleased with how regularly they threatened the Seagulls.

Victory would have taken them clear of the relegation zone, but as it is only goals scored is keeping them above Charlton Athletic in 22nd place.

With this game the last of matchday 13, City could be bottom going into the contest, but they could also go as high as 16th with a win.

Away from home, the Robins have averaged two goals per game in their last 15 league matches on the road, failing to score just once in that time.

They have also scored as many goals as Cardiff home and away this season with 15, but do have the joint-worst defence in the league with 22 conceded in 12 matches at an average of 1.83 per game.

Recent form: DLDDWL


Team News

Joe Ralls (C) of Cardiff celebrates with Craig Noone (R) after scoring the opening goal during the FA Cup Third Round match against Colchester United on December 2, 2014© Getty Images

After the impressive win over Boro, Slade is unlikely to make many changes for the Robins' visit.

One man expected to be back in contention is Joe Ralls, who missed Tuesday's game with a hamstring problem. Kenwyne Jones remains out with a shin problem, so Alex Revell could again lead the line.

Cotterill could also go with an unchanged XI given that the Robins felt that they deserved at least a point against the league leaders in midweek.

Aaron Wilbraham and Jonathan Kodjia are expected to spearhead the attack, although Simon Cox is pushing for a first start after making his debut from the bench against Brighton.

Cardiff possible starting lineup:
Marshall; Peltier, Morrison, Connolly, Fabio; Dikgacoi, Gunnarsson, Whittingham; Noone, Revell, Mason

Bristol possible starting lineup:
Fielding; Bennett, Ayling, Flint, Baker, Williams; Smith, Pack, Freeman; Wilbraham, Kodjia


Head To Head

This is the first meeting in over two-and-a-half years between the two, and both times in the 2012-13 season it was the home side that came out on top.

Bristol's 4-2 win that season in August 2012 was one of just two victories that they have had against the Bluebirds in the last eight contests, losing the other six.

Cardiff have won the last four encounters at home, with Bristol last triumphing in the Welsh capital in December 2002, when goals from Brian Tinnion and Christian Roberts gave them a 2-0 win at Ninian Park.


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We say: Cardiff 2-1 Bristol

City pushed Brighton all the way on Tuesday, but this is another tough away trip and Cardiff will be full of confidence after downing Boro in midweek.


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Who will win Monday night's match, Cardiff or Bristol?

Cardiff
Draw
Bristol
Cardiff
82.4%
Draw
10.9%
Bristol
6.6%
Cardiff manager Russell Slade looks on ahead of the Sky Bet Championship match between Millwall and Cardiff City at The Den on October 25, 2014
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