Football: Mackay salutes spirited Cardiff

Cardiff manager Malky Mackay admits his players' impressive mental strength could be the decisive factor in the race for promotion to the Premier League.

The Championship leaders cruised to a 2-0 win at Sheffield Wednesday on Saturday, ending a three-match winless run that had threatened to derail their automatic promotion hopes thanks to Don Cowie's first goal since September on the stroke of half-time and Matthew Connolly's 65th-minute header.

It was a vital win for the Bluebirds, who are now seven points clear at the top after second-placed Hull and third-placed Watford both lost, and Mackay is delighted with the way his team are coping with the pressure of going for promotion.

"It's another three points towards where we want to go," Mackay said. "We've been top since November 24 and it's a long time to be there and be shot at.

"I'm very pleased with the mental strength of our players to deal with that.

"They just keep taking on the team that's in front of them and going on to the next one."

Hull manager Steve Bruce admitted his side had been out of luck in a 2-1 loss against Nottingham Forest at the KC Stadium.

George Boyd, who looked set to move to Forest in January before the club cancelled the deal due to a failed eye test, put Bruce's team ahead in first half stoppage-time.

But Darius Henderson equalised for Forest in the 55th minute before Lewis McGugan secured fifth-placed Forest's sixth straight win with six minutes remaining.

"We've done enough to win two matches, that's the biggest disappointment," Bruce said.

"To be fair to Forest they've gone for it and played three up front, but the attempts we've had off the line and the post - it's just one of those horrible ones where the luck goes against you."

Gianfranco Zola's Watford could not capitalise on Hull's loss as Bobby Hassell's 35th-minute goal gave Barnsley a 1-0 win at Oakwell to ease his team's relegation fears.

"Sometimes the better quality doesn't prevail, especially in the Championship when you have teams fighting for their lives like Barnsley," Zola said.

"They make it difficult for you to play and you cannot overcome that. I think my players will learn a lot from this."

Leicester's play-off push faltered with a 2-1 defeat at Derby, while FA Cup semi-finalists Millwall capped a week to remember with a 2-0 victory at south London rivals Charlton.

Kenny Jackett's team set up a Wembley showdown with Wigan by beating Blackburn 1-0 in an FA Cup quarter-final replay on Wednesday and they carried the momentum from that win to The Valley.

At the other end of the table, Wolves came from behind to beat fellow strugglers Bristol City 2-1 at Molineux.

Third bottom Peterborough boosted their survival hopes with a 1-0 at Blackpool, secured through Kane Ferdinand's header in first half stoppage-time.

Huddersfield striker James Vaughan bagged an 86th-minute winner in a 2-1 victory over Yorkshire rivals Leeds at Elland Road, and Ipswich beat Bolton 1-0.

Nikola Zigic scored the only goal of the game as Birmingham won 1-0 at Middlesbrough.

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