Cardiff held as Hull close gap

07 April 2013 04:03

Championship leaders Cardiff were forced to settle for a 0-0 draw at promotion rivals Watford on Saturday, while Hull cemented second place with a 1-0 win over Middlesbrough.

Malky Mackay's team remain firmly on course to reach the Premier League as they are eight points clear of third-placed Watford, but the battle for the second tier title is a tighter affair.

The Bluebirds had a narrow escape when David Marshall kept out Troy Deeney's close-range effort with a fine save in the second half.

Deeney also missed a decent chance in the first half, while Cardiff's best opportunity fell to Joe Mason, only for the midfielder to see his strike saved by former Arsenal goalkeeper Manuel Almunia.

Meanwhile, Hull manager Steve Bruce admitted he was a relieved man after a win against Middlesbrough kept their automatic promotion push on track.

Bruce conceded the after-effects of Tuesday's home loss to Watford plagued his side for long periods at the KC Stadium.

There was little to separate the two teams until the 62nd minute when Robbie Brady curled a free-kick low around the wall to catch out goalkeeper Jason Steele and leave the Tigers three points ahead of Watford.

"Tuesday was a huge disappointment to us all and I'm going to admit on Thursday and Friday the players were still disappointed," Bruce said.

"It really took us to half-time to get going again, but we showed something, a bit of resilience and that determination to get a result. We don't want to be sitting through too many of them."

Ian Holloway remains hopeful Crystal Palace can claim an automatic promotion place despite falling further behind the top two after a 0-0 draw against Barnsley at Selhurst Park.

Fourth placed Palace, now eight points adrift of Hull, lacked a cutting edge as they failed to win for the fourth successive game.

Yet Holloway said: "We have to take it in small steps, you have to try and get enough to get in the play-offs, then that first or second spot after that."

Fifth placed Nottingham Forest drew 1-1 against 10-man Blackpool, while Brighton held onto the last play-off berth after a 1-1 draw against seventh placed Leicester.

Blackburn caretaker manager Gary Bowyer is adamant his struggling side can avoid relegation despite a damaging 3-2 defeat at Sheffield Wednesday.

Jordan Rhodes' penalty put Blackburn ahead early on, but Jermaine Johnson equalised and Leroy Lita converted a penalty after Josh Morris was adjudged to have fouled Reda Johnson.

Rovers captain Scott Dann levelled only for Jermaine Johnson to snatch a second half winner that left Indian-owned Blackburn in the relegation zone less than a year after dropping out of the Premier League.

"We aren't going to feel sorry for ourselves; it's in our hands still," Bowyer said.

"Of course it's a difficult situation, but I'm not going to shirk, I'm going to give it my best shot. We can only fight. The players care, they really care."

Darren Ferguson had some harsh words for his players as Peterborough twice came from behind earn a 2-2 draw at fellow strugglers Huddersfield.

Ferguson's side were 1-0 down at the break and the Posh manager did not go easy on his players, sending them out five minutes early for the restart.

"We let our standards slip and the players know what I think," Ferguson said.

"We came here to win the game but we played with a lack of intelligence at times and I am disappointed we didn't get the three points."

Elsewhere, Birmingham drew 1-1 with Millwall and Bolton won 2-0 against Wolves.

Charlton defeated managerless Leeds 2-1 and Burnley beat Bristol City 3-1.

Source: AFP