Garry Monk reflected on the plusses and minusses of Wednesday’s performance after we were pegged back in the closing minutes at a rain-lashed Cardiff on Friday night.
Julian Borner had put us ahead on 19 minutes, turning home Kadeem Harris’ shot for his first goal for the club, and we had chances to increase the lead as we totally dominated the first hour against a listless Cardiff side.
However, the home side came more into the game in the last 30 minutes and snatched an equaliser in the 87th minute from a controversial free kick. Massimo Luongo was harshly adjudged to have brought down sub Lee Tomlin just outside the box and Tomlin curled the resulting free kick over the wall and into the net.
Cameron Dawson, a late replacement for Keiren Westwood who injured an ankle in the warm-up, also rightly protested to the linesman about Cardiff defender Aden Flint jumping up and down behind the defensive wall and in an offside position before the kick was taken … but all to no avail.
Victory would have taken us joint top of the Championship before Saturday’s main programme of fixtures but the one point lifted us into the final play-off place, two points behind leaders West Brom and Forest.
Manager Monk said afterwards: “I thought the first 55 to 60 minutes was exactly how we wanted it and managed to control it. We created enough chances to get a second but in the last 25 minutes we allowed them to dictate and there are lessons to learn
“We got a point and that’s the least we deserved. We should have got that second or third but when it’s only a one-goal lead and you’re away at a difficult place there is always that danger.
“It’s a tough place to come and you expect them to fight like they did and you just need to be braver in that period. That’s the lesson learnt.
“But there are huge positives from tonight and we come away disappointed not to have won the game.”
Reflecting on the Cardiff equaliser, Monk queried the awarding of the free kick and said of Flint’s actions: “There was a clear and blatant obstruction from a player doing a star jump behind the wall, the decision didn’t go for us and we have to accept that.”
Harris, returning to his former club, had almost increased our lead just before half time when his free kick hit the bar. In addition, Steven Fletcher and Barry Bannan might have done better with openings in each half as we lacked the killer instinct to turn that first hour domination into further goals.
And Cardiff almost stole the points in injury time, Dawson saving well from Gavin Whyte’s snapshot, to ensure the draw.
Dawson, Palmer, Iorfa, Borner, Fox, Reach, Bannan (Nuhiu 73), Hutchinson, Luongo, Harris (Murphy 79), Fletcher. Unused subs: Thorniley, Odubajo, Lee, Forestieri, Pelupessy.