BLUE­BIRDS BAT­TLE ONE STEP CLOSER TO TAR­GET

WATFORD ..........0 Goal­less draw shows City’s steel

The Football League Paper - - CHAMPIONSHIP - By Chris Dunlavy

THERE was no tro­phy, no cham­pagne or stream­ers. And there was cer­tainly no talk of pro­mo­tion from Cardiff boss Malky Mackay.

But af­ter a grim, gritty draw that summed up Cardiff’s bat­tling qual­i­ties with per­fect elo­quence, those watch­ing were left in no doubt – the Blue­birds are go­ing up.

There was no tiki-taka, no flair or flu­ency. Just de­fen­sive dili­gence and a steely de­ter­mi­na­tion not to blow it af­ter six months at the sum­mit.

The re­sult was a 16th clean sheet of the sea­son, an eight­point cush­ion to the third-placed Hor­nets and just eight more re­quired to seal a place in the Pre­mier League.

“We’ve come away to the team that’s scored the most goals in the league and kept a clean sheet, so it’s a fan­tas­tic re­sult,” said Mackay whose side are at home in four of their last six matches.

“We played well, we played to our game plan.We were very dogged and very in­tel­li­gent in the way we played in the sec­ond half. I was very proud of them.

“But pro­mo­tion? No. You’ve just got to look at the game in front of your face. At the minute, it’s just about hav­ing the right men­tal­ity, show­ing the same char­ac­ter that has kept us top of the league since Novem­ber.”

Mackay, who won pro­mo­tion with Watford as a player in 2006 and re­turned to man­age the Hor­nets in 2009, also ad­mit­ted that he would like to see Watford – cur­rently three points adrift of Hull in sec­ond – pip the Tigers to pro­mo­tion.

“I said that to Gian­franco at the end,” he said. “It’s a club that’s close to my heart. I was hon­oured to be man­ager here and it’s a won­der­ful com­mu­nity who come out and sup­port their foot­ball club.”

South Korean grafter Kim BoKyung was Cardiff’s stand­out per­former in the early stages, his waspish per­sis­tence of­ten forc­ing Watford into clumsy er­rors. He might have opened the scor­ing too, a typ­i­cally bel­liger­ent run along the by­line re­sult­ing in a shot that Manuel Al­mu­nia did su­perbly to stop.

At that point, the home side looked ut­terly cowed, Cardiff’s de­ter­mi­na­tion to has­sle and harry clearly get­ting un­der the Golden Boys’ skin.

But when a Troy Deeney header was hoofed off the line by Aron Gun­nars­son,Watford’s classy coun­ter­at­tack­ing kicked into gear and, af­ter Cris­tian Bat-

CHAL­LENGE: Watford’s Troy Deeney, left, vies with Cardiff’s Ben Turner

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