AUGUST 2003: Cardiff 0 City 2 (Gray 6, Emanuel 69)

CITY don’t venture into Wales much these days.

This weekend’s trip to Newport will be the first time they have played in the principality for 12 years.

Their last visit was in January 2008 during Stuart McCall’s debut season in management when Kyle Nix earned a point in a 1-1 draw at Wrexham.

City’s only meeting with any Welsh side since was a certain well-documented and rather one-sided affair with Swansea at Wembley.

For this week’s delve into the nostalgia files, we go further back to the last time the Bantams made a winning raid across the border.

The season 2003-2004 turned out to be a nightmare, a second administration leading to relegation and almost oblivion the following summer.

Nicky Law, working on a shoestring budget, would be sacked in early November and high-profile successor Bryan Robson failed to beat the drop.

There were few moments to cheer but an unexpected win in Wales – clinched with two sublime strikes – was one of them.

City arrived at Ninian Park, Cardiff’s now-defunct home, on the back of an embarrassing League Cup home exit to Darlington on penalties. Chairman Gordon Gibb had blasted Law for employing “Third Division” tactics.

Newly-promoted Cardiff were playing their first home game in the top two divisions since 1985. The script had surely been written.

But then it was always likely to be a strange afternoon after the pre-match DJ surprisingly put on the Three Lions CD. Cardiff owner Sam Hammam stormed from the dug-out to snap the offending disc in half!

Then it was his own side’s proud homecoming that went for a burton.

City shocked the hosts within six minutes with the first thunderbolt.

Dean Windass held the ball up from Mark Paston’s long free-kick and it fell to Andy Gray, who caught the volley in the sweet spot and watched it zip into the top corner.

Cardiff threw everything at the Bantams in response. But David Wetherall and Paul Heckingbottom, moved to centre half from full back to help combat battering ram Alan Lee, led the strong resistance.

Paston saved well from Tony Vidmar and City caught a break as John Robinson fired against the bar. Even then, Robert Earnshaw looked odds on to convert the rebound but Paul Evans threw himself in the way of the follow-up.

Lewis Emanuel, dropped after the Darlington flop, came off the bench early in the second half to replace Ben Muirhead.

Within 15 minutes, he had joined Gray in the “worldy” club with City’s second exquisite effort as he sent a screamer past Cardiff keeper Neal Alexander from 30 yards. “Good coaching” joked Law afterwards by way of explanation.

Emanuel looked as dumb-struck as anyone after the ball crashed in and underplayed the celebration with just one finger in the air.

Cardiff battered away in the final 20 minutes for a way back but City were not giving this one up.

Paston tipped away Graham Kavanagh’s well-struck free-kick and then Wayne Jacobs produced goalline heroics to deny Earnshaw in a free-for-all in the six-yard box after Lee’s snap-shot had been parried.

“We’ve upset a lot of football coupons,” said Windass as Ninian Park emptied of stunned patrons. Sadly, that was pretty much as good as it got over a long campaign.

CARDIFF: Alexander, Vidmar, Barker, Gabbidon, Weston, Bolland, Robinson, Kavanagh (Bonner 83), Whalley (Langley 70), Earnshaw (Campbell 77), Lee.

CITY: Paston, Edds, Wetherall, Heckingbottom, Jacobs, Francis, Evans, Muirhead (Emanuel 54), Branch, Windass, Gray.