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)

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
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

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor