Recalled Birmingham City midfielder Maikel Kieftenbeld was proud to have played a key part in helping resurgent Blues win new manager Steve Cotterill’s first game in charge.
The 27-year-old Dutchman was making his first appearance since the collapse of an August deadline move to Derby County because of an administrative error.
He did not figure again under Harry Redknapp or caretaker boss Lee Carsley.
“I enjoyed to be back on the pitch doing what I like,” he told BBC WM.
“It was better than to be in the stand.”
Kieftenbeld was one of five changes made by Cotterill, who did not take charge of the team when he sat in the stand to watch Blues’ previous game, a 6-1 defeat at Hull a fortnight before.
Defenders Marc Roberts and Jonathan Grounds also came back in, as did strikers Isaac Vassell and fit-again Che Adams, Blues’ match winner, who was also making his first start since August.
We showed the fans – Kieftenbeld
The selection of Kieftenbeld was the most intriguing, over a month after his planned reunion with former Blues boss Gary Rowett at Derby was called off when the Dutchman’s registration could not be completed and an appeal to the EFL failed.
Blues’ midfield aggression and tireless tackling helped trigger only their third victory of the season – and their second in a row at home, having also won the second of their three matches under Carsley.
“We played with a lot of energy,” added Kieftenbeld. “We’ve worked very hard on the training pitch the last two weeks. But, as the gaffer says, nobody sees that and we wanted to show the fans.
“Che’s goal was great. He’s shown us that on the training pitch a few times. Now he’s shown it in a game. But keeping a clean sheet was the most important thing.
“There were a few moments when three of were making a sliding tackle to block the ball. We can play a bit better but, from where we have come, it was a good performance.”
Positive omen for Blues
The Friday night switch to accommodate live TV cameras meant that the gate of 19,059 was actually the lowest of the season at St Andrew’s.
But those that turned up could feel encouraged by the steadily improving fortunes of Cardiff over the past year.
When Neil Warnock took charge of his first Cardiff game a year ago this weekend, also on a Friday night, at home to Bristol City, his side were 23rd.
Blues were a place higher than that at kick-off on Friday night – and victory moved them up three more.