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Aston Villa loanee only positive in grim cup loss as trickster shows what he can really offer Cardiff City

There is no sugar-coating a defeat like Cardiff City's against Portsmouth on Tuesday night.

A second-half capitulation knocked the wind out of the Bluebirds' sails and undermined all the positive work which had gone before that first goal was struck on 58 minutes.

For just under an hour, Cardiff were the better team. For the final 30 minutes, they were horrific. But, if we are to drill down for a mere positive from the evening, few would rail against the notion that the first real sighting of Jaden Philogene was a positive one.

Read more: Cardiff fringe players fail miserably in attempt to impress as Morison reveals blunt dressing room message

The Aston Villa loanee made his debut off the bench against Reading on Saturday and struggled to make any sort of telling impact. From the off against Pompey, he looked the most dangerous player on the pitch for the first hour.

Steve Morison said after the match that no player had stuck their hand up and forced their way into automatic selection for Saturday's Championship clash with Birmingham City, and rightly so, but if anyone has given the manager any sort of decision to ponder whatsoever, it is Philogene.

Starting on the left wing, Philogene caused problems down Portsmouth's right for most of the match. His composure with the ball at his feet was pleasing to see and the confidence with which he took on opposition players provided some positivity early on.

He showcased all his talents with the ball at his feet as he tried to force his way into the reckoning for Saturday's clash, mixing up his dribbling, shooting and delivery. Early on he danced around his marker before stabbing in a cross to Mark Harris, but the striker was outgunned by two imposing centre-backs.

Minutes later he lofted in an even better cross to Ollie Denham, whose flick-on was intended for Harris, but the striker was bundled over and nothing came of it.

Philogene quickly changed tack, recognising these balls into the box were unlikely to amount to anything given whom Harris was up against. He kept the ball on the floor and better-quality chances arose.

He embarked on a fleet-footed run down the left before playing in Gavin Whyte in the box. The Northern Irishman then lay the ball into the path of Joe Ralls, but his first-time effort was deflected for a corner.

Then Philogene created the chance of the match, as far as Cardiff were concerned. The Villa man drove upfield as he led a Cardiff breakaway and showed a guile and poise to dupe the Pompey defenders before playing a reverse pass into the path of Whyte. Whyte struck his shot nicely and beyond the goalkeeper, but it was cleared off the line by a sprawling defender.

He will be disappointed not to have tested the visiting keeper himself, actually. Seconds after Sheyi Ojo was introduced, the ex-Liverpool man slotted through a lovely pass into Philogene, who had ghosted into the box. Slightly on the angle, and off balance, though, the wide man made a hash of his attempt on goal, sending an effort, which would have put City into the lead, high, handsome and over the bar.

There was certainly enough there to offer encouragement, that's for sure. It is easy to see why Villa supporters like him so much. He appears to be a real bums-off-seats player and offers a trickery which is at a premium in Cardiff's squad.

One could perhaps argue that Rubin Colwill getting 40 minutes into his legs was the other minor positive, but failing that it was certainly the proper arrival of a player Steve Morison said last week he couldn't wait to see on the edge of the opposition box. And there was much to like.

As the land lies now, it appears to be a straight, three-way shootout between Philogene, Ojo and Callum O'Dowda for two spots against Blues this weekend. Whether Philogene has done enough only time will tell.


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