Jones insists 'job's not done' as Cardiff take early advantage

Leicester City 0 Cardiff City 1

Cardiff manager Dave Jones believes top scorer Peter Whittingham will be playing in the Premier League next season come what may. He has one more reason to believe it will be with his team after the winger's 77th-minute free-kick shaded the first leg of their Championship play-off semi-final yesterday.

Jones admits that the former Aston Villa player, for whom he paid only £350,000 three years ago, is being watched by a substantial number of top-flight clubs, with West Ham United said to be especially interested.

The swinging left-foot strike that went in off Chris Weale's left-hand post to give Cardiff the advantage was Whittingham's 24th goal of the season, his 21st in the Championship, and will raise his market value still further.

Yet promotion to the Premier League, said to be worth £90 million to whichever team is successful at Wembley a week on Saturday, would end the financial uncertainty that has left all of Cardiff's squad vulnerable to predators and, on this evidence, the Welsh side look as strong as any of the contenders.

Leicester had gone into the semi-finals on a five-match winning sequence and seemed to have momentum in their court. Yet Cardiff, who had surrendered a 10-game unbeaten run by resting nine of yesterday's starting eleven for their final regular-season fixture, lost control of the game only after Whittingham's goal had prompted Leicester to redouble their efforts in the closing minutes.

Even then they produced resilient defending that deserved to preserve their lead. Mark Hudson, captain and the bulwark of their back four, tackled and blocked superbly, while goalkeeper David Marshall pulled off a brilliant save to keep out Andy King's header in the last of five minutes of added time.

"I don't know where the five minutes came from," Jones said afterwards. "I'm proud of the way my players stood up. The play-offs can be life-changing games and the nerves and the expectation always makes the first game difficult, so I could not have asked for much more.

"But I've come from a quiet dressing room because there is still another game to come and the job is not done. We are in front but there will be extra pressure in the home game because the players will feel there is a lot to lose."

Cardiff's organisation in the first half limited Leicester's threat to set-pieces. Martyn Waghorn's viciously struck, in-swinging corners were their most effective ploy, one of which stayed out only through Joe Ledley's goalline header.

On the counter, Cardiff made the better chances. Chopra missed narrowly after a fine run by Jay Bothroyd and hit a post after Ledley's pass had enabled Chris Burke to hit a near-post cross from the right.

Leicester had a penalty appeal dismissed after a Nolberto Solano cross struck Kevin McNaughton on the arm but did not show their best until Whittingham had scored, the manner of the goal raising questions about Leicester's decision to forego a defensive wall, which left Whittingham with a lot to aim at and goalkeeper Weale a lot to protect.

Matt Fryatt, a Leicester substitute, missed an opportunity after McNaughton and Mark Kennedy collided, then Paul Gallagher curled a shot narrowly wide. Nigel Pearson, the Leicester manager, believed the difference between the sides was negligible but conceded, after Marshall's save had denied him an equaliser, that Cardiff had a right to congratulate themselves.

"To be fair they put in a very good away performance," he said. "But there is still a lot of football left in the tie and I was pleased with the way we kept going." Nonetheless Cardiff, who last played at the top level 48 years ago, will be favourites to meet Blackpool or Nottingham Forest at Wembley.

Leicester City (4-1-4-1): Weale; Solano, Bruce, Hobbs, Berner; Wellens (N'Guessan 85); Gallagher, Spearing, King, Dyer (Fryatt 62); Waghorn (Kermorgant 76). Substitutes not used: Morrison, Oakley, Logan (gk), Adams.

Cardiff City (4-4-1-1): Marshall; McNaughton, Hudson, Blake, Kennedy; Burke (Etuhu 75), McPhail, Ledley, Whittingham; Chopra (McCormack 90); Bothroyd. Substitutes not used: Enckelman (gk), Quinn, Gyepes, Capaldi, Wildig.

Referee: A Wiley (Staffordshire).

Bookings: Leicester: Hobbs, Wellens. Cardiff: Bothroyd, Marshall

Man of the match: Hudson.

Attendance: 29,165.

Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur
fashion

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

Sport
Mario Balotelli, Divock Origi, Loic Remy, Wilfried Bony and Karim Benzema
transfersBony, Benzema and the other transfer targets
Sport
Yaya Touré has defended his posturing over his future at Manchester City
Voices
Spectators photograph the Tour de France riders as they make their way through the Yorkshire countryside
voicesHoward Jacobson: Line the streets for a cycling race? You might just as well watch a swarm of wasps
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
lifeHere's one answer to an inquisitive Reddit user's question
News
peopleDave Legeno, the actor who played werewolf Fenrir Greyback in the Harry Potter films, has died
News
Detail of the dress made entirely of loom bands
news
Life and Style
beauty
Sport
There were mass celebrations across Argentina as the country's national team reached their first World Cup final for 24 years
transfersOne of the men to suffer cardiac arrest was 16 years old
Arts and Entertainment
Armando Iannucci, the creator of 'The Thick of It' says he has
tvArmando Iannucci to concentrate on US show Veep
Sport
German supporters (left) and Argentina fans
world cup 2014Final gives England fans a choice between to old enemies
News
A mugshot of Ian Watkins released by South Wales Police following his guilty pleas
peopleBandmates open up about abuse
Sport
Basketball superstar LeBron James gets into his stride for the Cleveland Cavaliers
sportNBA superstar announces decision to return to Cleveland Cavaliers
Sport
Javier Mascherano of Argentina tackles Arjen Robben of the Netherlands as he attempts a shot
world cup 2014
Sport
Four ski officials in Slovenia have been suspended following allegations of results rigging
sportFour Slovenian officials suspended after allegations they helped violinist get slalom place
News
14 March 2011: George Clooney testifies before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee during a hearing titled 'Sudan and South Sudan: Independence and Insecurity.' Clooney is co-founder of the Satellite Sentinel Project which uses private satellites to collect evidence of crimes against civilian populations in Sudan
people
Caption competition
Caption competition

Bleacher Report

Daily World Cup Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice