Cardiff maintained their long undefeated run against Leeds – now 12 matches over 27 years – but after threatening a seventh successive victory against the Yorkshire club yesterday they owed their point to the agility of Scottish goalkeeper David Marshall.
Joe Mason, Cardiff's £250,000 summer snip from Plymouth, rewarded an assured start by Malky Mackay's side with his third goal in as many games midway through the first half. Leeds cranked up the pressure after the break, with Robert Snodgrass finding a way past Marshall, but the point left them outside the top six in the Championship on an afternoon when they could have seized third place.
Members of the 1991-92 title-winning squad, led by manager Howard Wilkinson and captain Gordon Strachan, took the crowd's acclaim at half-time, while Mark Viduka, principal striker in the side that reached the Champions' League last four in 2001, was another spectator. For a long time it looked as if a sequence that dates even further back, to February 1984, would be extended as Cardiff resolutely defended a goal that was soft in the extreme from the home standpoint.
Aron Gunnarsson had already seen a shot pushed behind by Paul Rachubka when Peter Whittingham flicked the ball through the centre of the Leeds rearguard, the last of several touches that turned defence into attack. Darren O'Dea reached it ahead of Mason, only for the slightest push in the Irishman's back to allow the 20-year-old to take possession. As Rachubka plunged at his feet, he scored via a deflection off the lunging Tom Lees.
Simon Grayson, the Leeds manager, claimed Mason had "nudged" O'Dea and knocked him out of his stride, yet admitted that his player, suffering the blurred vision that soon forced him off, "should maybe have dealt with it before then". Mackay, a former centre-back himself, said he had been in the same situation countless times. "It was just a normal challenge that people do," the Cardiff manager added.
Grayson and Mackay found common ground, however, in the performance of Marshall, the Leeds manager bemoaning a "number of top saves" and his counterpart hailing an "ice-cool" display as Leeds played with greater width in the second half. Marshall kept out drives by Ross McCormack, Adam Clayton and Snodgrass, and when his stunning reflex save defied Jonny Howson's header, it looked as if Cardiff might strengthen their vice-like grip over the hosts.
Snodgrass, jinking past defenders and cajoling his colleagues like a latter-day Strachan, had other ideas, although Cardiff conceded from a set-piece. Patrick Kisnorbo's free-kick was headed down by Lees for Marshall's fellow Scot to flick home his second goal of the season.
Leeds United (4-4-2): Rachubka; Connolly, Lees, O'Dea (Kisnorbo, 32), White; Snodgrass, Clayton, Howson, Pugh (Sam, 78); McCormack, Keogh (Becchio, 56).
Cardiff City (4-1-4-1): Marshall; McNaughton, Hudson, Turner, Taylor; McPhail; Cowie, Gunnarsson, Whittingham, Conway (Kiss, 63); Mason (Miller, 70).
Referee P Dowd (Staffordshire).