Mackay stays calm despite Cardiff slump

Cardiff City 0 Burnley 0

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The Independent Football

With 15 years of Championship experience under his belt, Malky Mackay, the Cardiff manager, insists the time to digest the table is with 10 games to go. Yet the Scotsman will have mixed feelings this morning when he studies the latest standings with nine rounds to go in the division following this dire stalemate in the Welsh capital.

Cardiff, who are perennial contenders for the play-offs after three previous disappointments at falling at the final hurdle, have moved up one position into eighth spot and now lie just one point off the top six. Not to forget mentioning a first clean sheet for the Bluebirds since the goalless draw at Doncaster Rovers on 14 January.

But that positive slant would mask the fact that there are more questions than answers for Mackay's Carling Cup finalists over their endurance in the promotion run-in. The latest below-par offering saw a minority of the home supporters boo off the players both at the interval and at the final whistle.

Central to Cardiff's problems – this point is just their ninth in the last 10 league games – has been the weight of expectation placed on influential duo Kenny Miller and Peter Whittingham.

With slumps in form for both players – Scotland striker Miller has not scored for 1,186 minutes while Whittingham has been a shadow of his excellent previous form – this was the Welsh side's third successive failure to find the net at home.

The best summary of an awful contest came early in the second half when the PA announcer informed a Cardiff supporter that his partner had gone into labour. If he did leave, he was the lucky one in the 21,276 attendance.

But Mackay, whose side have dropped from third place a month ago, claims he is not too worried about the state of their promotion bid.

"If we'd got another two points today then it would have put us fourth," said Mackay. "It's fine margins. It was a frustrating day and one where you are hoping the ball goes in off someone's backside. Everyone is fighting for their lives and teams are cutting each other's throats. We are part of that and within touching distance of the play-offs."

For the visitors, top scorer Jay Rodriguez missed out with a groin injury and how his 21-goal form was missed as Burnley carved out the better chances in the first half.

The game's shining player, playmaker Ross Wallace, tested Cardiff goalkeeper David Marshall with a 25-yard drive in the 10th minute before openings for team-mates Martin Paterson, David Edgar, Junior Stanislas and Danny Ings all failed to produce the first goal,while Mark Hudson was lucky to avoid conceding a penalty for a clear handball.

Yet that high level of goal-mouth action was of epic proportions compared to the slim pickings of the second 45 minutes with the major incident centring on Burnley full-back Kieran Trippier high challenge on Craig Conway which could have resulted in a red card.

Eddie Howe, the Burnley manager, said: "I'm delighted with the way the lads played. We tried to implement a passing style at the start of the season but we didn't get the results. We eventually got some and, long-term, it's the best way to go. There will be mistakes along the way but we have to be brave and stick to what we do. With the chances we created we are disappointed not to have won the game."

Cardiff City: Marshall, McNaughton, Hudson, Turner, Taylor; Mason, Gunnarsson (McPhail 85), Lawrence, Whittingham, Cowie (Conway 63), Miller (Earnshaw 78). Substitutes not used: Heaton (gk), Blake.

Burnley: Grant, Trippier, Duff, Edgar, Lafferty, Stanislas (Bartley 73), McCann, Wallace, Marney, Ings (McQuoid 90), Paterson (Austin 84). Substitutes not used: Jensen (gk), Mee.

Referee: I Williamson (Berkshire).