Cardiff not in crisis, says Jones as lean run hits promotion hopes

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The Independent Football

Dave Jones has denied claims that his Cardiff City side are stuck in a slump after they required a late Andy Keogh equaliser to salvage a point against bottom club Preston North End on Saturday. Cardiff, in second place, have won just one of their past six league games and are now four points behind leaders Queens Park Rangers despite having played an extra game.

"Everyone is pulling the same way and will go on doing that as they all want to do well," Jones said after the 1-1 home draw. "I promise every one of our supporters that there is nothing wrong at this club and we have a great bunch of players. We looked very frustrated and had loads of shots on goal but you can't knock the players as they kept going."

Preston had gone ahead through Michael Tonge's free-kick in the 26th minute and Cardiff were heading for a third straight defeat before Keogh converted Seyi Olofinjana's header four minutes into stoppage-time. Top scorer Jay Bothroyd came off injured with suspected hamstring damage after eight minutes but Jones did not know how long the recent England cap would be out. "The lad's on crutches and he'll have a scan," the Cardiff manager said. "It's too early now to tell how bad it is."

Cardiff's draw allowed Welsh rivals Swansea to close the gap between them to one point after Brendan Rodgers' side won 3-1 at Ipswich Town. The home side had taken the lead through Andros Townsend but Swansea turned the game round in six second-half minutes with two Craig Beattie goals and a Joe Allen strike.

"We are certainly not getting carried away, and the mark of our performances is testament to how hard the players have been working," Rodgers said. "They work very, very hard every day, and this is the rewards that we are getting."

Fourth spot is now occupied by Norwich City, who overtook Derby County after winning 2-1 at Pride Park. Two early goals – Shaun Barker deflecting a David Fox shot into his own net and a Chris Martin header – put the Canaries ahead. Derby soon halved the deficit when Kris Commons converted a flick from Luke Moore but they could not force an equaliser.

Paul Lambert, whose side are in contention for back-to-back promotions, was in no mood to talk about going up to the Premier League. "Don't ask me about our promotion chances because I will give the same answer," the Norwich manager said. "I just want to survive, that's my main concern. Ask me in May, then I will tell you. If I'm still here then and haven't got the sack you can ask me."

Marlon King scored his first goal since signing for Coventry City in the summer following his release from prison, his 78th-minute penalty clinching a 1-0 win over Middlesbrough. It was the second penalty of the match, after Leroy Lita had earlier missed one for Middlesbrough.

Leeds United are also in the play-off places, having beaten Crystal Palace 2-1 at Elland Road. Palace had gone ahead through Neil Danns and were nine minutes away from a victory that would have taken them out of the relegation zone. But Luciano Becchio scored his 10th and 11th goals late as Simon Grayson's side battled back to win.

Sven Goran Eriksson's improving Leicester City suffered a hiccup when they lost 3-2 at Watford, having pulled back an early 2-0 deficit.

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