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.

News
Pro-Russia rebels guard a train containing the bodies of victims of the Malaysia Airlines flight MH 17 crash in Torez, Ukraine
i100
Life and Style
Child's play: letting young people roam outdoors directly contradicts the current climate
lifeHow much independence should children have?
Arts and Entertainment
Tycoons' text: Warren Buffett and Bill Gates both cite John Brookes' 'Business Adventures' as their favourite book
booksFind out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Arts and Entertainment
<p><strong>2008</strong></p>
<p>Troubled actor Robert Downey Jr cements his comeback from drug problems by bagging the lead role in Iron Man. Two further films follow</p>
filmRobert Downey Jr named Hollywood's highest paid actor for second year running
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Property
Sign here, please: Magna Carta Island
propertyYours for a cool £4m
News
people
News
The Commonwealth flag flies outside Westminster Abbey in central London
news
Arts and Entertainment
Struggling actors who scrape a living working in repertory theatres should get paid a 'living wage', Sir Ian McKellen has claimed
theatre
News
Skye McCole Bartusiak's mother said she didn't use drink or drugs
peopleActress was known for role in Mel Gibson film The Patriot
Arts and Entertainment
tvWebsite will allow you to watch all 522 shows on-demand
Arts and Entertainment
filmThe Rock to play DC character in superhero film
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Damon Albarn is starting work on a new West End musical
artsStar's 'leftfield experimental opera' is turning mainstream
Life and Style
Paul and his father
artsPaul Carter wants to play his own father in the film of his memoirs
Sport
Ben Stokes trudges off after his latest batting failure for England as Ishant Sharma celebrates one of his seven wickets
cricket
Arts and Entertainment
Members of the public are invited to submit their 'sexcapades' to Russell T Davies' new series Tofu
tv
News
Sky's Colin Brazier rummages through an MH17 victim's belongings live on air
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch star in the Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game
arts + ents'The Imitation Game' stars Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightley
Caption competition
Caption competition

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn
Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

Meet the man who doesn't want to go down in history as the country's last Scottish Secretary
Legoland Windsor's master model-makers reveal the tricks of their trade (including how to stop the kids wrecking your Eiffel Tower)

Meet the people who play with Lego for a living

They are the master builders: Lego's crack team of model-makers, who have just glued down the last of 650,000 bricks as they recreate Paris in Windsor. Susie Mesure goes behind the scenes
The 20 best days out for the summer holidays: From Spitfires to summer ferry sailings

20 best days out for the summer holidays

From summer ferry sailings in Tyne and Wear and adventure days at Bear Grylls Survival Academy to Spitfires at the Imperial War Museum Duxford and bog-snorkelling at the World Alternative Games...
Open-air theatres: If all the world is a stage, then everyone gets in on the act

All the wood’s a stage

Open-air productions are the cue for better box-office receipts, new audiences, more interesting artistic challenges – and a picnic
Rand Paul is a Republican with an eye on the world

Rupert Cornwell: A Republican with an eye on the world

Rand Paul is laying out his presidential stall by taking on his party's disastrous record on foreign policy
Self-preservation society: Pickles are moving from the side of your plate to become the star dish

Self-preservation society

Pickles are moving from the side of your plate to become the star dish
Generation gap opens a career sinkhole

Britons live ever longer, but still society persists in glorifying youth

We are living longer but considered 'past it' younger, the reshuffle suggests. There may be trouble ahead, says DJ Taylor