Cardiff looking up after beating Derby to step up Championship play-off push

3 Apr

Russell Slade backed Cardiff to build on their 2-1 win against Sky Bet Championship fellow promotion hopefuls Derby.

Derby: Cardiff looking up after beating Derby to step up Championship play-off pushDerby: Cardiff looking up after beating Derby to step up Championship play-off push

Bruno Ecuele Manga and Stuart O’Keefe scored, both from Peter Whittingham corners, to leave Cardiff just two points behind Derby who occupy the final play-off place.

Cardiff manager Slade said: “It was a very professional performance. There weren’t many chances but we made enough use of the ball to create enough chances to win.

“But what pleased me most was that when Derby got themselves back into the game early in the second half, there was a great response from us and we got the all-important second goal.

“We’ve got a mountain-load of character and we showed that in front of a big crowd to win a big game.

“However the challenge remains to get into the top six. Despite winning, we are still a couple of points adrift and we are running out of games.

“The first game back after the international break is always important and now we have to build on this momentum and confidence.”

Chris Martin put Derby level early in the second half, but O’Keefe scored what proved to be the winner in the 68th minute.

Even the return of advisor Harry Redknapp could not inspire the Rams, who have just one win from their last nine away games.

Derby head coach Darren Wassall said: “We’re very disappointed, particularly on the back of such a good result against Nottingham Forest two weeks ago.

“It’s unacceptable to concede two goals from set-pieces. Our defending at home has been good but on the road it just hasn’t happened for us.

“The lads are hugely disappointed because there was very little in a game of few chances. But that just makes conceding two goals from corners all the more disappointing.

“We came out of the blocks quickly for the second half and Chris (Martin) was brave with the header for the goal and we all thought we would kick on from there.”

A record league crowd at Cardiff City Stadium of 28,680 endured a cagey first half that finally sprang to life eight minutes before half-time.

Whittingham recovered from a heavy challenge to provide a perfect delivery for Ecuele Manga to head powerfully past Scott Carson.

Derby needed less than five minutes of the second half to equalise.

Marcus Olsson’s cross found Martin in space. The striker scuffed his first effort but was quick to head his second chance past Scotland team-mate David Marshall.

That sparked a reaction from Cardiff. Carson denied Craig Noone and then Scott Malone. But Whittingham’s corner struck Morrison and fell into the path of O’Keefe who turned and scored from close range.


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