Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Bluebirds hold their nerve to book return to Wembley

Tom Heaton was the hero tonight as Cardiff City finally overcame Crystal Palace in a dramatic penalty shootout amid memorable scenes in the Welsh capital.

The former Manchester United stopper denied Jermaine Easter and then Sean Scannell to ensure that Kenny Miller’s opening miss went unpunished.

Tom Heaton 

Craig Conway, Rudy Gestede and Peter Whittingham held their nerve and the Bluebirds secured a fourth trip to the new Wembley, when Jonathan Parr blazed over to send the City of Cardiff Stadium into delirium.

Cardiff dominated the entirety of the second leg and went ahead early on when first leg hero Anthony Gardner put the ball into the back of his own net after he failed to deal with Don Cowie’s cross.

Kenny Miller, Filip Kiss and Aron Gunnarsson all struck the woodwork, as Palace’s backline held firm, despite the dismissal of the talismanic captain Paddy McCarthy late in the second half.

Much of the pre match talk came from Dougie Freedman, as he questioned City’s big game mentality. It seems nobody had told him that under Malky Mackay (barring a handful of players) are a new side. Freedman was unwise and ill advised in his pre game comments, and to be frank, Palace did not deserve a place at Wembley, on another night it could have been over a lot earlier.
Malky Mackay

They were on the back foot for whole game and they never looked liked creating an opening. Former Watford man Mackay has shown that he and his team do indeed have the ‘big game’ mentality that is required. Mackay has all the attributes to go a long way in management and can take Cardiff to the next level. 

Cardiff’s focus from here on in has to be promotion. Southampton’s recent dip in form has allowed a clear path into the mix up for the automatic places.

Regardless of the result against Liverpool or Manchester City, the former Watford boss has installed a new belief and winning mentality into this side and this is going to be key for the rest of the season. 

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