Cardiff battle to see off Boro

Cardiff City 1 Middlesbrough 0

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The Independent Football

If Cardiff finally reach the promised land of the Premier League in May, the Welsh club will look back to this afternoon of chaos and disruption as a major moment in their season.

Defending with backs against the wall following first-half injuries to Ben Turner and Andrew Taylor, Malky Mackay's patched-up outfit stood firm to withstand a Middlesbrough team who suffered their first defeat in ten.

Matt Connolly's 19th-minute header may have separated the teams in this top-of-the-table contest, but it was the guts, spirit and courage shown by the home side which will hold them in good stead for the months ahead.

It also allowed Cardiff to equal a club record ninth successive home win, but the foundation of the latest victory in the Welsh capital came down to sheer hard work.

Cardiff's manager Mackay said: "Middlesbrough had been on a roll and we knew it would be a tough game. But it became tougher when we lost two players after 20 minutes. We had to put young players in and they did brilliantly.

"To show that resilience against a good team showed the commitment to the cause and there are no egos at this club. I'm delighted with the character of the team and the fact we kept another clean sheet at home."

Despite the changes, which saw teenagers Ben Nugent and Joe Ralls come in, Cardiff took the lead. Peter Whittingham produced a pin-point corner to the far post and, with Boro goalkeeper Jason Steele failing to take command, the unmarked Connolly nodded home for his fourth goal of the season.

The visiting manager, Tony Mowbray, said: "Cardiff are a resilient side who defended well and put their bodies on the line. They had to do that."

Cardiff City (4-4-2): Marshall; Connolly, Hudson, Turner (Nugent, 14), Taylor (Ralls, 26); Noone, Gunnarsson (Bellamy, 61), Whittingham, Kim; Mason, Helguson.

Middlesbrough (4-1-3-1-1): Steele; Hoyte, Hines, Bikey, Friend (Bailey, 72); Leadbitter; Haroun (Smallwood, 30), McEachran, Ledesma; McDonald; Jutkiewicz (Emnes, 59).

Referee Oliver Langford.