Erol Bulut hails 'unforgettable' moment for Cardiff City hero Cian Ashford and makes prediction for teenager

Erol Bulut, manager of Cardiff City, applauds fans after the full-time whistle. -Credit:Huw Evans Picture Agency
Erol Bulut, manager of Cardiff City, applauds fans after the full-time whistle. -Credit:Huw Evans Picture Agency

Erol Bulut praised Cardiff City academy star Cian Ashford for producing a moment he will never forget after the teenager's 96th-minute winner against Southampton.

Ashford was handed his first start in a Bluebirds league game against promotion-chasing Saints and took it with both hands. Having played almost 100 minutes against a top team, he chopped inside and whacked the ball into the bottom corner from 25 yards. With the help of a big deflection, but we don't have to mention that.

The Rhondda-born starlet earned his chance after standout performances for the under-21s this season and two cameos off the bench in the last two league games. Now, he has arrived.

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"I think he will never forget it," Bulut said of the goal. "I spoke about what we've seen in training, he is doing really well. He played 15, 20 minutes, had good movements. But today, 90 minutes, he was great. Playing against Southampton, he did a really good job."

Bulut swatted away the notion that a loan move might do him good next season. Indeed, the manager predicts that Ashford will play a big part from this summer onwards.

"What he shows today and also the two games before, this quality he has, you saw only two or three games of him, I see him many weeks in training," he added.

"He is a little bit nervous still. So if he's a bit more calm on the ball and more aggressive against the ball, he can be a really good player, for next season, he will be a good addition.

"I was happy for Ashford, how he worked the last weeks to get this possibility from the start. We can't forget how Giles brought the ball to him and supported him! He also looks good. I hope these guys have a good future here."

With Cardiff having 11 players out injured, Bulut was forced to throw six academy players on the bench. He handed Raheem Conte his debut against the Saints before he brought on Luey Giles, the 17-year-old who ended up providing the assist to Ashford late in stoppage time.

Bulut revealed how nervous the trio were before the match, saying: "It's important for the young guys. When I spoke to them they were nervous.

"I came to the stadium, they were sitting there and when I shook hands with them and said, 'Hey, why do all of you look so nervous? Be calm! It's like an under-21 game with more fans!' They were laughing. I tried to relax them.

"I told them to play freely and show what they can show. Only two or three bits of advice I gave them."

Supporters sang, on more than one occasion: "Erol Bulut we want you to stay!"

They sang it loud and clearly Bulut heard it, giving them an ayatollah once or twice in the meantime. Speaking about the support he heard from fans, he said: "Of course, if you have support from the fans, from the board and everything is really positive here. I don't want to speak too much about this situation, it's up to the board either way. I appreciate this.

"The board, I think, they have opinions and thinking for the future of the club. I think they will make the right decision for the club. For my side, I hope to make the right decision for myself and my future."