THE VERDICT: CARDIFF 0 TOWN 0 Shocking ref decision denies Town vital victory
TOWN RATED HAVE YOUR SAY LATE PENALTY CONTROVERSIALLY OVERTURNED AS TOWN ARE HELD BY THEIR RELEGATION RIVALS
ISAAC MBENZA: (Pritchard, 73) Didn’t get a chance to stretch his legs 6 LAURENT DEPOITRE: (Mounie, 87) No chance to influence things 6
NOT USED: Ben Hamer, Tommy Smith, Terence Kongolo, Chris Lowe, Jon Gorenc Stankovic. REFEREE Lee Mason pointed to the spot when Flo Hadergjonaj appeared to be tugged down in the box by Joe Bennett 14 minutes from time.
But the Bolton official then changed his mind and awarded Cardiff a free-kick after consulting with assistant Stuart Burt.
It was the only real talking point in a low-quality clash, but Town competed really well and deserved to end their nine-match losing streak. They, and their fans in a crowd of 30,725, left the Cardiff City Stadium feeling hard done by – especially after the heartache of the penalty decision being overturned.
Wagner made two changes from the team which played the last league fixture against Burnley, bringing in loan signing Jason Puncheon for his club league debut and Erik Durm for Terence Kongolo and Isaac Mbenza.
Winless in their previous 13 outings against Welsh opposition, Town had Tommy Smith (hamstring) back on the bench ahead of schedule and went with a starting formation of 4-2-3-1.
Neil Warnock made three changes to his Cardiff team beaten at Tottenham, bringing in Nathaniel Mendez-Laing, Junior Hoilett and Joe Bennett for Bobby Decordova-Reid, Joshua Murphy and Greg Cunningham.
Former Town players Alex Smithies and Lee Peltier were on the bench for the Bluebirds, who were looking for a seventh straight home win over the Terriers in all competitions.
Cardiff made a fast start and Flo Hadergjonaj had to charge down a first-minute shot from Harry Arter, while Town responded with an Alex Pritchard free-kick which prompted a scramble in the box before being cleared.
Then, on eight minutes, Puncheon went close to giving Town the lead with a raking low 25-yard drive which had the beating of keeper Neil Etheridge but skimmed inches wide of his left-hand post.
Christopher Schindler was then booked for bringing down Mendez-Laing, this time Mason made sure the Town man had seen the yellow card, and there was confusion from the ensuing free-kick, with a suspicion of hand ball by Durm, but the Town defence hacked the ball clear.
Town were fortunate to escape in the 15th minute, following a Mendez-Laing break and cross, with Hadergjonaj looking to catch Hoilett from behind as he went to turn the ball past Jonas Lossl, who gathered at the second attempt.
With Cardiff pressing, Town weren’t moving the ball quickly enough to put former loan player Sean Morrison and his fellow giant defenders under pressure.
Town were giving the ball away needlessly, too, but Puncheon – who was playing well, showing a neat touch – set up a superb chance for Elias Kachunga, only for Joe Bennett to make a smart block.
A scuffed volley from Steve Mounie caused problems for Etheridge on the half hour, but he tipped over, and at the other end, Town defended stoutly at an Aron Gunnarsson long throw.
Arter was booked for a late challenge on Mounie as Town stepped things up a gear, and Mendez-Laing had to react
Philip Billing looked dejected at the final whistlePHOTO BY STU FORSTER/GETTY IMAGES