Mick McCarthy’s unbeaten run as Cardiff City boss stretched to 11 matches, but he had to settle for a goalless draw at Huddersfield Town in his 1,000th game as a manager.
The veteran has overseen a remarkable run of form since taking charge in January and was rewarded with a new two-year contract the previous day, but his side drew a blank for the first time in his tenure and missed the chance to move into the play-off places as a result.
The best opportunities fell to struggling Huddersfield in the second half, but Yaya Sanogo missed a penalty on his first start for the club and Fraizer Campbell failed to convert a glorious late chance.
Story of the match
The match largely played out as would have been expected, with Carlos Corberan's men dominating possession for long spells as Cardiff sat back in well-organised deep lines which just couldn't be played through. The visitors' usual attacking weapons, however, were only rarely seen as stalemate ensued.
McCarthy’s in-form men started sharply, forcing Ryan Schofield into an excellent save within two minutes. Joel Bagan was allowed far too much space and time to deliver a cross and Aden Flint beat Pipa to it at the far post, nodding back for defensive partner Sean Morrison to fire a strike which the goalkeeper did well to save by making himself big.
Joe Ralls also had an effort blocked but chances were at a premium after that as the game settled into its expected rhythm, Dillon Phillips making fairly comfortable saves to deny Lewis O’Brien’s deflected strike and Juninho Bacuna’s free-kick as Huddersfield only managed fleeting advances into Cardiff’s well-fortified final third.
The visitors lost Bagan to a shoulder injury before the break but still finished the half well, forcing a second top save. A cleared corner fell to Will Vaulks who eyed another spectacular goal for his collection, but his volley was well kept out by a stretching Schofield.
Neither boss made an intervention at half-time that managed to change the state of deadlock, and it took 20 minutes following the restart for a real chance for either side. Huddersfield’s first shot of the game from inside the penalty area came not through intricate play but a free-kick, Bacuna’s floated delivery flicked narrowly wide by defender Richard Keogh.
The hosts were disappointed when a Vaulks elbow into the face of Pipa was only punished by a yellow card, but they were soon happier with referee Tim Robinson as he rightly pointed to the spot for a Curtis Nelson foul on Aaron Rowe. Sanogo stepped up looking to score his first goal since joining on a free transfer last month, but from 12 yards he stroked poorly wide and was hooked minutes later.
Nevertheless it was Huddersfield who pushed for a winning goal in the closing stages, with Phillips coming out well to deny Pipa when the wing-back was released in behind. Top scorer Campbell then had their final chance to secure a vital win when Naby Sarr’s knock-down saw the ball come his way six yards out but he managed to lift the ball over the crossbar.
When Schofield held a Morrison overhead kick at the other end in injury time the draw was certain, with Huddersfield at least taking the consolation of a first clean sheet in 16 matches.
Man of the match: Pipa (Huddersfield)
The wing-back has been key to Huddersfield's best performances this season and returned to prominence with an impactful attacking display, despite being kept on his unfavoured side. Rowe also did well on the other flank, as did Bacuna in the middle.