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Russell Martin rues missed chances as Cardiff dent Southampton promotion hopes

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 20 Apr 2024

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Cardiff’s second smash and grab raid at home against a top four team in the Championship in the space of six weeks sent Southampton’s hopes of automatic promotion into a tailspin.

It was a goal from Callum O’Dowda in the 100th minute that sank Ipswich Town 2-1 on March 9 and a first league goal for teenager Cian Ashford in the 96th minute of his first full appearance sent Saints marching home after a similar 2-1 defeat at Cardiff City Stadium.

“It’s unacceptable to lose a game like that. With the amount of chances we had we should have been out of sight by half-time,” said frustrated Southampton boss Russell Martin.

“We started the second half well and had some more chances. We played some amazing football but it won’t matter one bit because we lost.

“If you’re not going to have the conviction and ruthlessness, be clinical in their box, and then not defend your own properly that’s what happens.

“Today has done us a lot of harm in terms of chasing the automatic spot, but we have to react properly now. We’ve got three games left and we can still get over 90 points.

“I expect a big reaction from everyone on Tuesday night. If it means our season’s going to be extended, so be it, and we have to get ready for that.

“We’ve spent a little time in the top three, but we have been outsiders for automatic promotion for a long time.”

The Cardiff fans let the board of directors know their feelings about manager Erol Bulut, who has yet to secure an extension to his one-year contract, by chanting ‘We want you to stay’ for long periods of the second half as goals from Famara Diedhiou in the 68th minute and Ashford at the death saw their side take the points.

“Sometimes it’s good when you’re not pushing for something or at the bottom, so the players can play freely. I said to my team before today I wanted only positive things, even if they make mistakes,” said Bulut.

“I told them to play freely and I think they did a really good job. After 90 minutes, Cardiff had three youngsters, new players, on the field. This is important for the future of the club.

“The academy did a really good job, so thanks to them. It’s a message to the academy that we always have an eye on them.

“I think that is a moment Cian Ashford will never forget. I spoke about what we’ve seen in training from him, he is doing really well.

“He played 15, 20 minutes in previous games and had some good movements. But today, for 90 minutes, he was great.”

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