Darren Ferguson became a victim of what has become known as "Fergie time" when Preston were cruelly denied an unlikely victory. The visiting manager was flummoxed as Andy Keogh grabbed the Cardiff equaliser in the fourth minute of added time.
"I don't know where the five minutes came from?" said Ferguson. "It was like the referee [Darren Deadman] plucked it out of thin air. I think the officials had a poor day. It happens. They are human." His frustrations were understandable as there were only three substitutions in the second half and no serious injuries.
For so long the team at the bottom of the Championship had repelled the side in second. "We must take the positives out of this performance against a club who I think will go up," said Ferguson. Ferguson's confidence will be much welcomed in Cardiff, particularly as they have only taken five points from the last 18. They could surrender the automatic spot to Swansea on Friday and the pressure would inevitably grow. The sight of Jay Bothroyd limping off in the fifth minute with a hamstring injury only added to their anxiety.
Dave Jones cut an edgy figure when he came in to the press room and accused the local media of "destabilising" the club. "I've supposed to have had argument with Craig [Bellamy]," said Cardiff's manager. "When? Where? I'd love to know. Listen, there's a great bunch of boys here and we'd showed today the character we have. We never stopped going."
In truth, they didn't get going until after Preston had scored in the 26th minute when Michael Tonge's free-kick deflected off Mark Hudson's heel, leaving David Marshall stranded. Thereafter, Cardiff dominated possession without really penetrating the Preston defence. It was scrappy, low-quality fare, although Ferguson would not have cared.
As attack after Cardiff attack came to nought it seemed Preston would hang on for their first win in seven games. Bellamy summed up the frustration as nothing went right for the Manchester City loanee.
Preston's resistance was admirable, but the fact that Cardiff had 31 shots said plenty and in the final minute of normal time Preston's Danny Pugh pulled off a spectacular clearance off the line from a Hudson header. Then came the fourth official's board and Ferguson's shake of the head; then the moment he feared. Peter Whittingham crossed, Seyi Olofinjana headed the ball back across and Keogh was on the far post to play the saviour.