Burke strike buries Palace in the mire

Crystal Palace 1 Cardiff City 2
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Fortune is not favouring the brave in south London these days as Crystal Palace nudged another step closer to relegation from the Championship.

The Eagles, riddled with injuries and suspensions, were the better side for large periods but a second-half goal from Chris Burke leaves them in grave danger of heading down the increasingly well-trodden path from recent top-flight side to League One, as well as boosting Cardiff City's bid to leave in the opposite direction.

Palace's manager, Paul Hart, may well end up having presided over two relegations this season, although he can hardly be blamed for either. Portsmouth, who sacked him in November, were doomed from the start and he now finds himself in charge of a team who do not look like recovering from their 10-point penalty imposed for entering administration.

Glutton for punishment he may be, but Hart was cursing his luck after a spirited display yielded nothing.

Instead, the referee Carl Boyeson failed to spot Tony Capaldi's penalty-area tug which felled Stern John, and also harshly gave a free-kick for handball against Neil Danns which led to Burke's winner.

Hart's patched-up defence was all at sea when Cardiff took the lead after just four minutes. Peter Whittingham's low corner was flicked on by the unmarked Stephen McPhail into the path of defender Gabor Gyepes to tuck away his first goal of the season.

But Palace are nothing if not resilient and Clint Hill had already rattled the crossbar with one towering header before the defender beat David Marshall on the hour.

Their joy was shortlived, however, as Cardiff secured their victory 10 minutes later. The former Eagle Mark Kennedy swung in the contentious free-kick which was only half-cleared and sat up for Burke to thump past Julian Speroni from the edge of the area.

"I think it was a magnificent performance," added Hart. "We are patching players up and we have kids on the bench – we are what you see.

"But we've got seven games to go and if we play like that we will win matches. The players are disappointed and angry."

Cardiff, who fell off the promotion pace around this time last year, remain on course for at least a play-off berth.

Their manager, Dave Jones, said: "The ball was in the air a long time, it was difficult to get the ball down and play, and I thought we dealt with it as best we could. At this stage of the season, sometimes you have got to win ugly."