There were very few positives in that disappointing Severnside derby loss for Cardiff City, but Tommy Doyle was undoubtedly one of them.
The Manchester City loanee was thrown straight into the starting line-up for the clash with the Robins and he looked a cut above the rest from the very first kick of the ball.
Unjaded by the rigours of this increasingly torturous Bluebirds season, Doyle played with a freedom and imagination we have not seen for quite some time.
His set-piece delivery, which already looks like it is going to be a sizeable weapon in Cardiff’s armoury moving forward, was impeccable, while his cross for James Collins’ goal was nothing short of sublime.
“You look at Tommy and he showed why we brought him to the football club,” manager Steve Morison said after the match.
“That quality, his corners, his ability to take the ball and make things happen, it’s slightly different to what we’ve got.
“That’s the difference. That moment, he got it and… goal. That’s why we have brought him in.
“That moment, he gave us that one bit of quality we’ve been lacking in previous weeks.”
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Given how well he was playing, it was perhaps a surprise to see his number flash up on 65 minutes to make way for Ryan Wintle.
However, given he has made only substitute appearances for Hamburg this season, Morison explained that, if he is to have an impact in the remaining months of the season, the club must be careful not to “break him”.
“He hasn’t played,” Morison said, explaining the substitution.
“He was doing excellent. Before the game we were always thinking about (playing him for) 45, 50 minutes.
“I just thought a couple of moments he started looking tired and jaded.
“We had Ryan [Wintle] and Will [Vaulks] on the bench, so there was always a plan in place to get him as far as we can.
“I think he is going to be a really good player for us. We don’t want to break him in the first game. “
If we are looking for any more positives from a particularly bleak day across the Severn, which is a tough ask, it is that Max Watters scored his first goal in a Cardiff shirt.
He was .called back from his loan at MK Dons early because Cardiff desperately needed goals to push themselves up the table and Watters started in the best way possible at Ashton Gate, albeit in a losing cause.
He, like Doyle, can have a big say on the Bluebirds’ fortunes moving forward over the next few months.
“We brought Max back, he scores a goal because that’s just what he can do,” the manager added.
“He scores a goal, he didn’t do a lot else around it, but he scored a goal. Strikers don’t care!”
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