DES­TINY BACK IN THE HANDS OF THE BLUE­BIRDS

South Wales Echo - - FRONT PAGE - TOM COLE­MAN Foot­ball writer tom.cole­man@waleson­line.co.uk

CARDIFF City boss Neil Warnock says he has no re­grets in opt­ing for Gary Ma­dine ahead of goalscor­ing hero Ken­neth Zo­hore in Satur­day’s dra­matic 2-0 win over Nor­wich City, and in­sists he’s happy with the for­mer Bolton striker’s re­cent show­ings.

A first goal in the blue of Cardiff con­tin­ues to elude Ma­dine, whose in­clu­sion ahead of Zo­hore raised plenty of eye­brows ahead of the vic­tory at Car­row Road.

Zo­hore him­self did his best to prove a point to his boss, com­ing off the bench to net Cardiff ’s break­through goal four min­utes from time, be­fore Ju­nior Hoi­lett wrapped up the points with a sen­sa­tional vol­ley deep into stop­page time.

How­ever, Warnock be­lieves the foun­da­tions of Zo­hore’s ninth goal of the sea­son were firmly laid by Ma­dine’s per­for­mance, par­tic­u­larly his han­dling of Ca­naries cen­tre-backs Grant Han­ley and Timm Klose, al­though he ad­mits that the Blue­birds lacked a cut­ting edge up un­til the Dane’s in­clu­sion.

“I thought Ma­dine was fab­u­lous,” he said. “I thought if Ken­neth had started the game to­day he would’ve been bul­lied and that the two cen­tre­halves would have had him in their pocket.

“I think Ma­dine did all the work and then Ken got the cream!”

“I still thought we had the best chances, even in the first half when Nor­wich prob­a­bly played the bet­ter stuff, and if we’d had a lit­tle bit more clin­i­cal fin­ish­ing we could have taken two or three op­por­tu­ni­ties.”

Af­ter Ful­ham were held at home to lo­cal ri­vals Brent­ford, the win in Nor­folk car­ries a great deal more sig­nif­i­cance for Cardiff’s bid for au­to­matic pro­mo­tion, with the Blue­birds now a point clear of the Cot­tagers with a game in hand.

But while happy to see his side back in the driv­ing seat for au­to­matic pro­mo­tion, it was the level of ef­fort and de­sire shown dur­ing what was a bruis­ing bat­tle at Car­row Road that pleased Warnock, who la­belled the win in East Anglia as the best he’s seen from his team this sea­son.

“Even if we’d drawn 0-0 to­day I couldn’t have faulted any­thing,” added Warnock.

“You see what my team is, they’ve got big hearts.

“We might not be tech­ni­cally as good as some other teams but it’s not through lack of ef­fort.

“That’s what I love about the Cham­pi­onship, you get lads like this who’ll die for you and it makes you feel so proud as a man­ager.

“The last three games we’ve gone right to the end of 90 min­utes but this does feel like the best re­sult of the sea­son.”

He con­tin­ued: “I’m as de­lighted as I was de­flated in the last two games. You don’t al­ways get what you de­serve. How we didn’t get four points out of those last two games I’ll never know. It’s been dif­fi­cult to pick them up this week. We had a bit of a slug­gish start and they’re a good side, Nor­wich. I watched them bat­ter As­ton Villa a few weeks ago and they’ve got some good play­ers.

“We had to hang on in there. We knew they’d have a lot of pos­ses­sion. I thought we re­ally de­fended well. I thought (Sean) Mor­ri­son was a 12/10 to­day. A colos­sus. We had (Sol) Bamba to start with then (Bruno) Manga. I thought Bruno did well when he came on, the two full-backs and the goal­keeper.

“I still thought we had the best chances in the first half when Nor­wich played the bet­ter stuff.”

Warnock also re­vealed the ex­tent of Sol Bamba’s in­jury, say­ing he had words with the de­fender as he made his half-time de­par­ture.

He said: “I had a bit of an ar­gu­ment with him at half-time be­cause if he’d played a sim­ple ball to (Nathaniel) Men­dez-Laing on the right in­stead of be­ing (Franz) Beck­en­bauer, he wouldn’t have got hurt be­cause then he had to run 70 yards back to goal and hurt him­self in a chal­lenge. It’s an in­jury he’s had all sea­son.

“We had words at half-time and he threw his bat and ball out and that’s great. It’s lovely to have that pas­sion.

“He’ll prob­a­bly play next week­end know­ing him. With four games to go, he’ll want to play any­way.

“It was great we had Bruno Manga to come on. Manga would get into any team I’d have in the Cham­pi­onship.

“He played against (Josh) Mur­phy at our place at right-back, and he kept look­ing at his num­ber on the back of his shirt as he went past him so I couldn’t put him through that. I thought (Lee) Peltier did re­ally well again and (Joe) Ben­nett.

“And the goal­keeper Neil Etheridge was safe, so it’s been a great re­sult for us.”

Gary Ma­dine tan­gles with Nor­wich de­fender Grant Han­ley dur­ing Satur­day’s win at Car­row Road PIC­TURE: Huw Evans Agency

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