Gardner confident of final spot

MATCHWINNER Antony Gardner believes Crystal Palace are well placed to reach the Carling Cup final after last night’s 1-0 success at Selhurst Park.

Gardner’s 43rd-minute goal gave Palace victory over npower Championship rivals Cardiff in last night’s semi-final, first leg.

The central defender said: “It was a good team performance. It was intense. You could see out there it was fiery game.

“Both teams came to win the game and it was a good cup tie. We’ll get ready for the second leg now and hopefully we can go there and get a win. There’s no reason why we can’t. We’re looking to do the business there.”

Palace boss Dougie Freedman hailed the character of his team in a week when a virus has swept through Selhurst Park.

He said: “We showed character and determination. Antony was fantastic defensively — his qualities are there to be seen — but we all worked hard for the clean sheet.

“It might be the crucial goal. We have got a team set up to win away from home. We’ll go there quietly confident and it’ll be a very interesting game.”

Bluebirds boss Malky Mackay was unimpressed with referee Mike Dean’s decision to rule out a Cardiff equaliser.

Kenny Miller headed in from a corner in the second half but Dean had already whistled, apparently for a foul on Palace goalkeeper Julian Speroni.

The Scot explained: “The referee not giving a goal is a surprise to me.

“I’ve looked at it again and again, maybe he has got in his mind he should have given a goal-kick rather than a corner and tried to rectify that.

“But he’s had an absolute howler with that one. You don’t level one thing up with another...play goes on.

“So I’m disappointed with that but there’s still all to play for. I thought to a man we were tremendous tonight and overall I’m very proud of them.’’

CRYSTAL PALACE: Speroni, Ramage, McCarthy, Gardner, Parr, Zaha (Easter 90), Dikgacoi, Jedinak, Ambrose, Martin (Scannell 78), Murray.

CARDIFF: Heaton, McNaughton (Blake 66), Hudson, Turner, Taylor, Cowie, Whittingham, Gunnarsson, Ralls, Mason (McPhail 74), Miller.

Referee: Mike Dean (Wirral).

Last night’s results: Carling Cup semi-final, first leg: Crystal Palace 1 Cardiff 0.

npower League 1: Sheff Utd 4 Yeovil 0.

League 2: Hereford 1 Bristol Rovers 2.

Johnstone’s Paint Trophy Southern Area final, first leg: Barnet 1 Swindon 1.

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