MANAGER Dave Jones apologised to Cardiff’s fans after their automatic promotion hopes were shattered by a 3-0 home defeat to Middlesbrough.
The Bluebirds were looking to keep the pressure on Norwich in the race for second place in the npower Championship but the game was over as a contest inside 21 minutes as Leroy Lita, Barry Robson and Richard Smallwood all struck for the visitors to condemn Cardiff to their heaviest home defeat since a 3-0 reverse to Ipswich at Ninian Park in April 2009.
The result means the Bluebirds will have to be content with a place in the play-offs, after Norwich beat Portsmouth 1-0.
Cardiff now face another run through the play-offs, unless the FA hand out a substantial points deduction to QPR over their purchase of Alejandro Faurlin in 2009.
It was reported yesterday that if QPR do suffer a points deduction, a likely appeal against that decision could force the play-off semi-final dates back by a week.
Jones, however, was critical of a woeful defensive display by his side.
“We didn’t perform in the first half, the first two goals are schoolboy goals to give away,” he said. “Then we lost our discipline and people were running all over the shop. I can only apologise to our fans and I am sure the players will reiterate that.”
CARDIFF: Heaton, McNaughton, Keinan, Quinn (Chopra 72), Samuel (Koumas 31), Whittingham, McPhail (Blake 46), Burke, Olofinjana, Bellamy, Bothroyd.
MIDDLESBROUGH: Steele, Hoyte, McManus, Rhys Williams, Taylor, Thomson, Robson (Flood 86), McMahon, Smallwood, Lita, Emnes (Franks 62).
Referee: Graham Scott (Oxfordshire).
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