Cardiff City 3 Blackburn Rovers 0: Malky Mackay stays calm as Cardiff surge closer to their top-flight dream


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The Independent Football

The 51-year wait for top-flight football to return to Cardiff is almost over after Malky Mackay watched his side dismantle Blackburn Rovers yesterday to extend their lead at the top of the Championship to seven points. Fraizer Campbell's sixth goal in 11 games broke Rovers' resistance and Joe Mason showed why half a dozen clubs wanted his services before the loan deadline closed last week, before Peter Whittingham's injury-time penalty sealed a job well done.

Now Mackay and his players can sit back and watch promotion rivals Hull, who lie second, and Watford do battle at the KC Stadium tonight.

Cardiff's lead to third-placed Watford is 11 points, yet, despite the healthy advantage with only seven games left, the Bluebirds' manager refused to accept that a Premier League spot next season was already in the bag.

Mackay said: "We're not there yet. There's still 21 points left to play for so we have to make sure we keep playing the next team in front of us. I'm absolutely delighted with the position we're in and this win gives us that little gap with seven games to go.

"We have shown great character and mentality within our team. We are fighting every inch to make sure we give our supporters the dream they want. The performance and result were very pleasing. We started really well and were relentless. We dominated from start to finish and that doesn't happen too many weeks in this division."

Cardiff suffered a shock defeat at Peterborough last Saturday, but three more points towards their promotion dream were never in doubt here.

Campbell crashed Jake Kean's crossbar with a right-footed shot before Matthew Connolly fired over as Cardiff laid siege to the Blackburn goal in the first period. And Mackay's men were not to be denied as the unmarked Campbell nodded home Craig Bellamy's corner at the back post on 40 minutes.

Rovers, who left top scorer Jordan Rhodes on the bench, suffered an injury blow early in the second half when goalkeeper Kean was carried off on a stretcher after collapsing in a heap with a knee problem.

The one-way traffic continued and Cardiff were finally rewarded for their dominance when substitute Mason doubled the lead with four minutes remaining. The Irishman collected Aron Gunnarsson's pass and fired low past substitute goalkeeper Grzegorz Sandomierski.

Whittingham then rounded off an emphatic win, and inflicted Gary Bowyer's first loss in charge of the Lancashire team, by coolly slotting home an injury-time spot-kick after Mason was fouled by Scott Dann.

Scorers. Cardiff: Campbell 40, Mason 86, Whittingham pen 90

Cardiff City (4-4-2): Marshall; Connolly, Barnett, Turner, Taylor; Conway, Gunnarsson, Mutch (Whittingham, 81), Kim; Bellamy (Gestede, 88), Campbell (Mason, 58). Substitutes not used Lewis, Cowie, Noone, Lappin.

Blackburn Rovers(4-4-2): Kean (Sandomierski , 54); Kane, Hanley, Dann, Morris; Bentley (Dunn, 61), Jones, Murphy (Rhodes, 75), Pedersen; Best, Kazim-Richards. Substitutes not used Givet, Rekik, Stewart, Goodwillie.

Referee C Pawson (South Yorkshire).