Heaton the 'reserve' hero takes Cardiff to Wembley

Cardiff 1 Crystal Palace 0
After extra time; Score 1-1 on aggregate
Cardiff win 3-1 on penalties

Cardiff City booked their place in the Carling Cup final
courtesy of an inspired penalty shoot-out display from
second-choice goalkeeper Tom Heaton to beat 10-man Crystal Palace
last night.

Heaton, who is usually on the bench in the Championship, proved to be the hero for Malky Mackay's side by saving spot-kicks from Jermaine Easter and Sean Scannell before Palace left-back Jonathan Parr missed to seal a fourth Wembley appearance for the Welsh side since 2008.

Now the former Manchester United trainee believes Cardiff can win the League Cup for the first time in their history against either Liverpool or Manchester City at Wembley on 26 February. Heaton said: "Playing at Wembley is massive and every boy's dream. We will enjoy it but also try and win the game. We won't just go there for a day out.

"I barely touched the ball in normal time so I was just happy to get involved in the penalties. I knew which way a few of their players were going to go. The backroom staff did a great job to put a clip together on their penalties over the last few years."

Anthony Gardner's seventh-minute own goal levelled the scores quickly on aggregate, wiping out the advantage from the first leg earned by his header at Selhurst Park, yet how the home side did not seal their final berth before the end of 120 minutes remains a mystery.

Kenny Miller, who later missed in the shoot-out, hit the post in the first period, and after Palace had captain Patrick McCarthy sent off by referee Howard Webb for a second bookable offence in the 78th minute, Cardiff's Filip Kiss and Aron Gunnarsson both hit the crossbar in extra time.

Heaton added: "It would have been a travesty had we lost. Going into the game, we all knew how high the levels of concentration had to be as one goal probably would have killed us and made it all the more difficult."

The success is all the more remarkable for the fact that Cardiff manager Malky Mackay only had 10 senior professionals when he was appointed last summer. Mackay said: "I am delighted with the performance and the early goal calmed us down. It was a fine night's work.

"When Aron hit the bar I thought it probably wasn't going to be our night. But I had great belief in the group. I've been overwhelmed by the support of the owners and we're all pushing in one direction. Tom deserves all the accolades he gets. He has been fabulous throughout the competition as he has been second fiddle to David Marshall in the league, but he knew this was his competition."

The Palace manager, Dougie Freedman, had fanned the flames by claiming Cardiff would be "scared stiff" after failures to get over the final hurdle in recent play-off and cup finals. However, after those dangerous utterances came back to haunt the Scotsman, Freedman insisted he did the right thing.

He said: "I've no regrets about those comments. I just told my players the facts of what had happened at Cardiff in the past. I'm proud of my players and I couldn't ask for anymore."

Match facts

Substitutes

Cardiff City: McNaughton (Blake, 80), Kiss (McPhail, 83), Gestede (Cowie, 102)
Crystal Palace: Scannell (Martin, 75), McShane (Ambrose, 79), Easter (Murray, 83)

Booked

Cardiff: Blake, Gunnarsson
Palace: Clyne. McCarthy (twice)

Sent off
Palace: McCarthy (78)

Man of the match
Whittingham

Match rating 7/10.

Possession

Cardiff 61%
Crystal Palace 39%.

Attempts on target

Cardiff: 11
Crystal Palace: 0

Referee H Webb (South Yorkshire)

News
A poster by Durham Constabulary
news
Arts and Entertainment
books New York Times slammed over summer reading list
Sport
Cameron Jerome
footballCanaries beat Boro to gain promotion to the Premier League
Arts and Entertainment
Performers drink tea at the Glastonbury festival in 2010
music
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine