Warnock’s men grab up­per hand

The Football League Paper - - CHAMPIONSHIP - By Chris Dunlavy

CARDIFF are just one vic­tory away from a place in the Premier League af­ter a sen­sa­tional two-goal salvo from skip­per Sean Mor­ri­son.

Knocked off sec­ond spot by Ful­ham on Fri­day night, Cardiff ar­rived at the KC know­ing three points were es­sen­tial to keep mat­ters in their own hands.

Step for­ward Mor­ri­son, who headed the Blue­birds into a firsthalf lead, then raced for­ward from cen­tre-back to fin­ish a sweep­ing counter-at­tack.

The de­fender’s hero­ics mean Cardiff need only match the Cot­tagers’ re­sult on the fi­nal day to en­sure a record eighth pro­mo­tion for gaffer Neil Warnock.

“That was prob­a­bly as big a game as I’ve had in my ca­reer,” said Warnock, whose side host out-of-form Read­ing in Sun­day’s show­down.

“And as for next week, it’s mas­sive. I don’t think any­body can re­alise yet what’s at stake, but I’m sure that will come.

“Ev­ery­body ex­pects us to fall away. You’ve got de­ci­sions go­ing for Ful­ham left, right and cen­tre.

“A lot of teams might have been de­mor­alised by what hap­pened on Fri­day. But they’re a great bunch of lads. They get knocked down, they get bad de­ci­sions, but they get up and they get on with it. I know we’re lim­ited. I know that we

aren’t ev­ery­body’s cup of tea. But we’re not go­ing away. We’re like a rash and it’s just great to be their man­ager.”

Mor­ri­son’s first, a pow­er­ful header from Joe Ralls’ cor­ner, en­livened a half scarred by stop­pages, the most wor­ry­ing of which saw Aron Gun­nars­son de­part with a se­ri­ous knee in­jury.

Due to cap­tain Ice­land at this sum­mer’s World Cup, the 29-yearold re­quired the help of two phys­ios to limp from the pitch and looked close to tears as he inched painfully into the tun­nel. It now seems highly un­likely he will add to his 77 caps in Rus­sia this sum­mer.

“We won’t know un­til to­mor­row, but Aron doesn’t go down eas­ily,” said Warnock. “It looked a bad one.”

Hull’s An­gus MacDonald also suf­fered an ag­o­nis­ing exit, dis­lo­cat­ing his shoul­der in an in­nocu­ous tan­gle with Cardiff pow­er­house Ken­neth Zo­hore.

The fourth of­fi­cial even­tu­ally bran­dished eight min­utes of stop­page time, though few at the KC wel­comed the ex­ten­sion of a des­per­ately dull half.

Dull, how­ever, was just dandy for Warnock, es­pe­cially against a side who have scored 15 goals in their last four matches.

An­chored by an im­pec­ca­ble back four, Cardiff rev­elled in wast­ing time, dis­rupt­ing play and gen­er­ally sti­fling a Hull side too lim­ited to re­sist.

Not once was Neil Etheridge forced into a mean­ing­ful save, though Sol Bamba did pro­duce a fine dou­ble block to deny Fraizer Camp­bell.

“All credit to Cardiff,” said Hull boss Nigel Ad­kins, who re­placed Leonid Slut­sky in De­cem­ber and en­gi­neered a se­ries of high-scor­ing wins to keep his side in the divi­sion. “They’ve put them­selves in that po­si­tion through hard graft, do­ing the right things.

“For us, I’m dis­ap­pointed. The level of per­for­mance wasn’t what I ex­pected it to be, or what it has been at home re­cently. There was no real flu­ency to our game.

“It isn’t how I wanted to end the sea­son but, big pic­ture, we’ve kept our­selves in the Cham­pi­onship.”

The coup de grace came ten min­utes from time when Nathaniel Men­dez-Laing broke from deep and picked out Mor­ri­son at the back post. The de­fender deftly dumped On­drej Mazuch on his back­side be­fore bend­ing a beauty into the far cor­ner.

“When you watch it back, it’s in­cred­i­ble,” said Warnock. “He ac­tu­ally starts in his own six­yard box. Then he car­ries on and car­ries on. I was think­ing, ‘We’re win­ning 1-0, what the hell are you do­ing?’ But he must have just spot­ted that some­thing was on.

“In­cred­i­ble – I’ve told him to tell all the pa­pers we prac­tice do­ing it in train­ing all the time!”

RUN­NING MAN: Sean Mor­ri­son cel­e­brates af­ter scor­ing his sec­ond af­ter a counter-at­tack

PIC­TURES: Ac­tion Images

HIGH TIME: Sean Mor­ri­son climbs above the Hull de­fence to meet Joe Ralls’ cor­ner and open the scor­ing for Cardiff

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