Cardiff manager Russell Slade admitted a play-off spot was a “tall order but not impossible” after his side slipped to a 2-1 defeat at Brentford.
He blamed the lack of a clinical edge for his side’s failure to turn chances into goals in a first half they dominated.
Bees substitute Scott Hogan showed him what he was missing with two ice-cool finishes in three minutes, with Kenneth Zohore supplying the late consolation.
A disappointed Slade said: “You only get a few opportunities and we’ve missed a few and that could have put paid to our season, but we still have nine points to play for and we still have that visit to Sheffield Wednesday.
“We lacked that clinical finish in the first half when we had total control. In the second we lost it a bit, they became a threat on the counter and we defended poorly.”
Slade insisted that the pendulum was swinging back his side’s way after Zohore’s debut goal: “There was only one side that looked like scoring. As it is the play-offs are a tall order but not impossible.
“You never give up in this game. It’s professional sport and you go to the end so whilst we have the possibility we will keep fighting.”
Brentford head coach Dean Smith hailed the impact of 24-year-old Hogan, whose two-goal haul in three minutes sunk the Bluebirds and added to his late equaliser against Bristol City on Saturday.
“He has done ever so well coming on when the game was stretched and there were some tired legs and he showed what he is about with a true poacher’s goal. I think that’s three goals in 14 minutes for him,” said Smith.
“He’s a very intelligent player and he’s stronger now. He’s bulked up now and can mix it with the best centre halves in this league. I’m sure he’ll be knocking on my door wanting a start, but I’ll have to sleep on that.”
Smith said his side lacked energy in a turgid first half that saw the visitors create the best chances, Anthony Pilkington the biggest culprit with a hat-trick of wasted efforts.
He added: “The biggest cheer in the first half was when the fourth official held the board up and it was only one minute added. After the break both teams gave it a go and it was end to end and we threw our bodies on the line.
“After the break we had more energy and created some decent chances and that keeps the unbeaten run going. You can’t lose sight of what you are good at and we never did.”
Smith also had some good news for Brentford fans over midfield talisman Alan Judge’s broken leg.
He added: “He’s had a plate put in and we went to see him and he was in good spirits. His wife had two kids to look after and now she has three so we took her some flowers.”