Erol Bulut questioned Cardiff’s mentality after an “unacceptable” second-half performance in their 3-1 defeat against Millwall at The Den.

Jake Cooper’s volley put the Lions in front at the break after Michael Obafemi and Yakou Meite traded goals during an entertaining first half.

However, Neil Harris’ side controlled the second half, limiting the Bluebirds to scraps before Duncan Watmore made sure of things in stoppage time with a cool finish past Ethan Horvath.

The result lifts Millwall into 16th, six points clear of the relegation zone, while Cardiff are now 11th with three games remaining.

And Bulut insists his side need to show a winning mentality in their remaining games.

“Millwall at home are a good team, they are working and fighting and I was satisfied with the first half, but with the second half, I have no words for the second half,” he said.

“Nobody can tell me ‘two days before we had a game and we were tired’, Millwall also played a few days ago.

“The main thing is the mentality, how you go in the game, if you want to change this game, if you want to win this game, what you are expecting from yourself individually.

“I can speak only to my players, but the mentality on the field has to change, especially in the second half.

“Consistency is the biggest problem that we have this season. If it was a little bit different then we would be speaking now about different things.

“It was like day and night. In the first half it was clear that the better team was Cardiff but we conceded two goals and the second half was not acceptable.

“If you have these small mistakes in your game then it is difficult to come back.”

The win is a huge boost for relegation-threatened Millwall and Harris believes his side are proving a lot of people wrong.

“Every man and his dog wanted to tell me that these lads can’t play at The Den,” Harris said.

“They do know how to play at The Den and it was a big thing for me to try and galvanise the football club and bring the terrace and the pitch together.

“It’s down to the players when they go on the pitch, so they take the credit and the praise for it.

“Tuesday night against Leicester was a monumental performance from the players and a special evening, but in some ways I’m more pleased with today because to back it up with such a comprehensive performance is testament to the group’s mentality.

“We looked a lot more confident today with the ball and I think if we had scored the third goal at the start of the second half we could have gone on to score four or five.

“It’s important for the football club to stay at this level.”

Interim Birmingham boss Gary Rowett rued a missed opportunity to move out the Championship relegation zone after the Blues were beaten 1-0 at home by Cardiff.

Rowett’s side would have moved out the bottom three with a point but Josh Bowler’s 65th-minute goal earned Cardiff victory at St Andrew’s.

The result leaves Blues 23rd in the table with just four games of the season remaining.

“When you have an opportunity, you have to do everything you can to take that opportunity and we just didn’t do that,” Rowett said.

“We petered out with a little bit of a whimper and it’s incredibly frustrating and frustrating for the fans who came out in good numbers.

“I thought we started OK and I thought we had some good control and I felt we got into some good areas without finding the quality to open them up.

“We’ve given goals away far too easily, we’ve conceded soft goals, tonight we had a chance to react to their goal and we didn’t react.

“We lacked character in that second half and how the game ended.

“We know we’ve got another tough game on Saturday and we need to show a little bit more urgency, fight and character.”

Cardiff, who remain in 11th position, lost midfielder Aaron Ramsey to injury.

The Wales midfielder started his first match for the Bluebirds since September but was substituted at half-time because of a hamstring problem.

Manager Erol Bulut said: “He had an injury with the hamstring so we hope it is not something big and we will see after a scan.”

Bulut was happy with his team’s display against a difficult opponent.

“It was a good game from our side, of course it was not an easy game because Birmingham are fighting for points,” Bulut said.

“It was a strong game from us against the ball and we could have made one or two more goals if we would have finalised our passes or the last shot but in general, I am satisfied with the performance of the team.

“We now have four more games and I hope it can be the same like today.”

Bulut believes it has been a satisfying season for the Bluebirds, but inconsistencies have been their downfall.

“You see where Cardiff City was last season and where they are now and how we have progressed, I am satisfied with the season and the performance of many players, but it could be better,” Bulut said.

“We have not had the consistency and so maybe we could be closer to the play-offs.”

Interim manager Mike Dodds hailed the impact of Jobe Bellingham as a centre-forward after Sunderland beat Cardiff 2-0 to claim their first win since February 10.

Bellingham, the 18-year-old younger brother of England and Real Madrid midfielder Jude, won an early penalty before scoring his seventh goal of the season in all-round mature performance.

“We should be excited about his performance, something we can build on moving forward,” said Dodds, who revealed he has held conversations with Bellingham about his best position after tending to play him in midfield.

“He’s scored a goal and done well in the the game. He’s a coach’s dream, if I said go and play in goal he would just crack on with it.

“What he has got, which many number nines don’t have in this league, is unbelievable quality with his feet – a centre-midfielder playing up front.

“He gave us a platform to play off but you’ve got to remember he’s a second-year scholar playing in the Championship.

“He’s 18 and I know he carries the weight of his brother, which I think sometimes is unfair.

“But if you put that to one side, you’ve just seen a second-year scholar who has been exceptional and should be playing youth-team football.”

Dodds succeeded the sacked Michael Beale on February 19 and Sunderland had lost six and drawn one of their previous seven games to slide down the Sky Bet Championship table.

He said: “I think it was a real professional performance and I’ve tried to stay really balanced in this seat looking at performances.

“I am more happy for the group and the fans because the result makes everything feel a little bit lighter but I’m quite balanced.

“The (first) goal was a huge psychological factor in us just relaxing, after that we were excellent and cut through them really well.”

A second successive defeat – Cardiff had lost 2-0 to Welsh rivals Swansea before the international break – ended the Bluebirds’ slim play-off hopes.

Erol Bulut’s one-year contract expires at the end of the season and the Bluebirds manager conceded that uncertainty over his future could be impacting on performances.

Bulut said: “It can be (affecting players). I don’t have any problems. I respect it from the board if they are not coming with a new offer.

“I’m focusing on my job until the end of the season. Until now we haven’t had any communication about that, so let’s see.”

On a poor performance, Bulut added: “During the international break, the players trained really well so I was expecting a much better game.

“To see that performance, it hurts. I have to be honest, from the 39 games we’ve played this season, this was one of the worst.”

Rob Page has hit back after Cardiff manager Erol Bulut complained over the lack of communication from Wales about including Aaron Ramsey in their Euro 2024 play-off squad.

Wales captain Ramsey has not started a game for six months and had played only 72 minutes in that time when Page named him in his squad for Thursday’s semi-final against Finland.

Bulut was unhappy Wales did not contact Cardiff before recalling Ramsey, saying he had expected to speak to Page or a member of his management team.

Ramsey returned from a calf strain to play 18 minutes at Swansea last Saturday, and the 33-year-old midfielder is expected to be on the bench against Finland.

Asked about Bulut’s comments, Page said: “I don’t know what all the fuss is about to be honest.

“We just want the player fit, both Cardiff and ourselves.

“We are in constant communication. I trust my medical team. I don’t need to have a conversation with the (Cardiff) manager.

“I know their medical team. Their head of medical was my physio when I was manager at Port Vale.

“Their club doctor is our Under-21s’ doctor. There has never been a better relationship.

“If there is a breakdown in communication, it’s between their manager and their medical team.

“For me, it’s worked. I trust my medical team, they have got him fit and he’s in the squad.”

Luke Williams believed Swansea produced the “most complete performance” of his tenure so far as they claimed a 2-0 Championship victory over derby rivals Cardiff.

Liam Cullen put Swansea ahead in the 34th minute before missing a penalty six minutes into the second half.

But Jamal Lowe bagged his seventh goal of the season – in the sixth minute of second-half stoppage-time – to cap off a fine win for the Swans, who ended the Bluebirds’ four-game winning streak.

It was Swansea’s fifth win from six matches against Cardiff and went some way to avenging their 2-0 loss in the reverse fixture last September.

“We won in a really positive way, I can’t argue with the way we went about it today,” said the Swansea boss.

“I think the combination of intensity and aggression combined with calmness and clarity is something we’re all striving for.

“I think it’s fair to say we’ve seen one or the other in recent performances or we’ve seen periods where we’ve done both well.

“But today felt like the most complete performance so far.

“It’s unrealistic for us to expect to not have any pressure (against us), but we were very dominant for the majority of the game and the big chances in the game, we created all of them.”

Meanwhile, opposite number Erol Bulut admitted some of his players went “hiding” as Cardiff failed to cope with the hosts’ intensity in the first-half.

The Bluebirds failed to register a single shot on target in the opening 45 and – on the whole – flattered to deceive as they missed out on securing a first-ever league double over the Swans.

And Bulut was less than impressed with the way his players started the contest at the Swansea.com Stadium.

“With the pressing Swansea made against us, we had to keep the ball in midfield, but we didn’t ask for the ball in midfield, we were hiding too much in the midfield,” he said.

“If you are hiding, you cannot get out of the press. You have to ask for the ball, this was not there in the first half.

“That’s why in the second half I made the changes, bringing two players in and we managed it a little bit better and the rest who came in, I think it was quite good.

“We will not put our heads down and make big trouble of this because we lost.

“When we see the last weeks, how we worked and how we came back when we’ve been on the bottom, we will be back again.

“We still have eight games to play, we have the international break, we will rest well, train well and come back strong again.”

Swansea were dealt a blow as Ben Cabango missed out with a calf injury and is now poised to be unavailable for Wales’ Euro 2024 play-off campaign.

Cabango’s fellow defender Kyle Naughton was withdrawn during the derby due to a hamstring issue, with Williams stating the injury “doesn’t look good”.

Erol Bulut welcomed the return of Cardiff’s confidence after the Bluebirds moved within seven points of the Championship play-offs by beating Huddersfield.

Famara Diedhiou’s first-half finish secured a 1-0 victory as Cardiff claimed three consecutive wins for the first time since September.

“The last four games, I’m happy,” Bulut said after taking a 10 points from those matches.

“We are performing – it was not easy after the Bristol City win on Saturday, a derby – and we have to think positive.

“If you win games you feel much better. The last games we get our confidence back and it looks much better.

“We have 10 games to play and hopefully we can show much more.

“But I don’t think about play-offs right now. We take every game by game and at the end we see what we are going to get.

“There is 30 points (to play for) and we are trying to get the maximum.”

Senegal striker Diedhiou joined Cardiff on loan in January from Spanish club Granada.

It was the 31-year-old’s first Championship goal since bagging a brace for Bristol City in a 3-1 success at Middlesbrough on February 23, 2021.

Bulut said Diedhiou was unhappy at being omitted from Cardiff’s 1-0 Ashton Gate win against his former club on Saturday.

“Famara was expecting to play the last game against his old team, he was angry but he kept it for today,” said Bulut.

“He has played four years in the Championship and scored more than 50 goals at Bristol City.

“He has the experience. He showed that it is a good start and I hope he can continue like that.”

Huddersfield remain in relegation peril, above the bottom three only through having scored more goals than 22nd-placed Stoke.

“There are reasons why we are 21st in the table and in the last few years nearly the same,” Andre Breitenreiter said after his first defeat as Huddersfield head coach following a win at Watford and a draw against Leeds.

“It is not possible to change things in two weeks. But I learned a lot about the team and observed many things we should change because we are fighting for our lives to stay in the league.

“We need the same performance from the last two games and this was a day we should forget as soon as possible.

“I could have changed everyone after the first half, it was too slow and it was too easy for Cardiff to create chances.

“The second half we controlled the game and had big chances but you don’t deserve to get a point when it’s not 100 per cent.”

Erol Bulut hailed the impact of Liverpool loanee Nat Phillips after Cardiff completed a Severnside derby double over Bristol City.

Perry Ng’s second-half header gave Cardiff a 1-0 success at Ashton Gate and back-to-back wins for the first time since October.

The Robins’ best moments were snuffed out by centre-back Phillips, who has proved a key player since arriving from Anfield in January.

“Nat is a big add to us, he gives confidence in the defence and organises the defence,” said Cardiff manager Bulut after his side had leapfrogged their opponents in the Championship standings.

“Other players next to him are acting on it and that’s important.

“He has played for Liverpool and Celtic, big teams, and he knows when you get pressure how to stay calm.

“He gives this to the other players too and with (goalkeeper) Ethan (Horvath) there now we can also play better from the back.”

Cardiff’s 66th-minute winner was their 17th goal from a set-piece this season – a Championship high.

Ng rose highest from a David Turnbull corner for his sixth goal of the season and second against Bristol City after scoring in Cardiff’s 2-0 home win over the Robins in October.

Bulut said: “I think the game was 50-50 over the 90 minutes, but congratulations to my players because they worked really hard and the luck was on our side.

“We are one of the best teams in the league from set-pieces.

“We always work on it and, if you analyse my previous clubs, it’s something we did there too.

“We kept our concentration and closing down the spaces, so I am happy.

“We are getting a little confidence back, which is good, and we have to stay together.”

Bristol City have now lost three in a row since winning at Middlesbrough and beating promotion-chasing Southampton at home.

A chorus of boos from home fans greeted the final whistle and boss Liam Manning said he would “take it on the chin”.

Manning said: “I’ve got thick skin. Of course I don’t want to hear it.

“I want the team to perform and succeed, I’ve had to fight and scrap in my career to get where I am.

“I’ll take it on the chin, be calm and get ready to go again on Tuesday.”

Asked what the Robins were short on in defeat, Manning replied: “Quality in the final third.

“We need people to step up and take responsibility in high-pressure moments and deliver.

“On the goal, set-pieces are probably Cardiff’s biggest threat – and most of their goals come from first contacts as well – and it’s hugely annoying.

“I didn’t think there was a huge amount of quality from both sides, so you’ve got to make sure you don’t lose and it finishes 0-0.”

Wales captain Aaron Ramsey is set to miss the Euro 2024 play-off against Finland, Cardiff manager Erol Bulut has revealed.

Ramsey made two substitute appearances for Cardiff earlier this month after spending five months out with a knee injury.

But Ramsey reported a calf problem last week and a scan has now shown that a tendon issue will rule him out until the end of March.

Wales play Finland in the play-off semi-final in Cardiff on March 21.

The winners will host Poland or Estonia in Cardiff five days later for a place at Euro 2024 this summer.

“The last time we spoke about Ramsey I got a report that it was a strain,” Bulut said after Cardiff’s 0-0 draw with Blackburn in the Sky Bet Championship.

“But yesterday (Monday) I hear it was a strain on the tendon. He will be available end of March.

“This is also a disappointing for us. I will support him every way I can. It’s not easy to be out for five months.

“He will be out for four to six weeks.”

Bulut bemoaned Cardiff’s failure in front of goal after drawing a blank for the fourth successive home game.

“Generally I am satisfied,” Bulut said. “Maybe you will ask, ‘Why?’ When we see the last weeks, we lost many points and games.

“It was not easy for my team to go out and play positively, because of the confidence which has been lost. Today it was important to get a bit of confidence back.

“This is the point where the confidence is not where we need it. It’s missing.

“Defensively we were good. The team was really working hard. In front of the goal is the issue. We create a lot, but don’t put the ball in the net and this continues.”

New Blackburn boss John Eustace suggested his players were too nice after Callum Britain’s effort struck the arm of Dimitrios Goutas during the second half.

Goutas’ arm was in an unnatural position, but Rovers players did not appeal and play was waved on.

Eustace said: “It did looked handball to me. We’ve got a really nice group of players and I would like to have seen them appeal a little bit more.

“It possibly goes to VAR in the Premier League and the players can be as nice as they want then.

“I’m delighted with a point and our first clean sheet in 17 games.

“It was important we stop goals going in because we’ve got the worst record in the league.

“It’s a big step to getting that togetherness and belief that we are really good team and we want to get to the 50-point mark as quickly as possible.”

Cardiff manager Erol Bulut felt rest and recuperation was behind his side’s 1-0 victory over Watford at Vicarage Road.

Bulut gave his squad an extended break from training last week and their extra energy proved vital in holding off a late Watford onslaught.

Josh Bowler’s superb 43rd-minute strike gave Cardiff a first win since New Year’s Day and moved them to within five points of the Championship play-off places.

Bulut said: “After a few weeks of not winning points we were disappointed, so the three days off that we gave the players refreshed our team.

“Everybody came back with a clear mind and an analysis about themselves and about what they need to do to play much better.

“I think the whole team did really good work today. When you do your job well as a team, it makes it easier.”

Bulut also credited the club’s greater strength in depth following the January transfer market.

The Welsh club brought in six players in the final two days of the transfer window, with David Turnbull and Josh Wilson-Esbrand coming on substitutes to see out the victory.

“In the past I also spoke about only having 16 players, but now at least we can make changes,” Burut said.

“Before, when we had a few injuries, we were fighting in matches, but sometimes even fighting in matches was not enough, not everything. Now it looks much better.

“We worked with the new players, but they still need to know our playing style better. In the coming days and weeks, the qualities of the players will show up much, much better. They will help us a lot in the next 17 games.”

Watford, who sit a point above Cardiff, have not won a league match at Vicarage Road since November 28 and have not scored a goal from open play in their past four games.

Manager Valerien Ismael said: “There’s a big frustration tonight. I have the feeling that over 90 minutes, we should win the game. Yes, our opponents were disciplined, but they had one shot on target and scored the goal.

“It’s painful to lose at home again because we want to give something to our fans. This is a setback for us because we need to use the home games to be strong. So today for me is a tough one to take.

“We said to the players at half-time. ‘You need to step up and believe in yourselves because I believe in you and we believe in you’.

“After the substitutions it was much better. We dominated the ball and we created chances, but in the final third it’s more about desire.

“We need to be nasty in the opponents’ box to get in front of defenders, to make sure you are always there.”

Cardiff boss Erol Bulut is set to sit down with club owner Vincent Tan this week to thrash out a January transfer window policy in the wake of his side’s 2-2 home draw with Plymouth.

The Bluebirds went 2-1 up before Morgan Whittaker added his second goal of the game in the 66th minute, and his 12th of the season, to bring the visitors back on level terms.

“It is the first time I have met Vincent Tan in person. We will have a meeting about January and I hope for positive messages in terms of transfers and what we can do in January,” said Bulut.

“I don’t know what we can do, but I hope we can do something. We need some players, quality players that can push us on and keep the level high.

“We know what kind of players we need, although January is always difficult – nobody wants to give their best players away.”

Wales and Bournemouth striker Kiefer Moore is top of Bulut’s New Year wish list. Bulut plays attack minded football, but is not getting the return he needs from his forwards.

“We managed the first half better than the second half. We made small mistakes in the build-up, and the confidence was the same as in the first half,” he added.

“In the end, we could have won the game when Callum Robbo passed to Karlan Grant. It was a game that was 50-50 from both sides, with chances nearly the same.

“They pushed a lot in the second half and created a few chances. In the end, it is one-point and we have to live with that.”

For managerless Argyle, it was back-to-back draws with a trip to high-flying Southampton to come on Friday night.

Whittaker’s two goals earned them the point, but they gifted their hosts an own goal in the first half with a misdirected back pass from Matt Butcher.

“The players were devastated in the dressing room. We had more than enough chances to win the game and it was an opportunity missed,” said Argyle’s caretaker boss Neil Dewsnip.

“We had to work really hard for our two goals, so to gift them a goal Was unfortunate. Morgan is in a rich vein of form and scored twice.

“But Bali Mumba hit the crossbar late on and he knows he let himself and his team-mates down. He should have scored from there.

“We haven’t won yet since Stephen (Schumacher) left and I’m desperate to win. The players are galvanised and they have moved on from Stephen’s departure.

“He did a great job for Argyle and we wish him well at Stoke City. But the players are now waiting for a new manager.

“We’ve had more than 100 applications so far and the important thing is for us to get the appointment right, not to rush it.”

Cardiff manager Erol Bulut said his side showed fighting spirit after they beat Sheffield Wednesday 2-1 at Hillsborough.

The home side had taken the lead through Anthony Musaba and had the lion’s share of chances but two own goals from Akin Famewo ensured the Bluebirds claimed victory.

Bulut said: “Today we showed so much spirit. We showed we are a team and we are fighting for each other again. In recent weeks we haven’t been doing this and we want to start showing it as a team and today was a great start.

“We did so well to come back and get the three points. The Championship is hard work and there will be games like this all the way to the end of the season.”

Famewo deflected Karlan Grant’s driven cross-shot inside the far post for Cardiff’s first goal then sliced a clearance into his own net after keeper Cameron Dawson spilled a tame effort.

Bulut said: “Karlan has such a high work rate and is one of the best players we have in the team. I’m pleased for him and his involvement in the first goal, which was vital for us.

“In the Championship you can play nice football but you have to run a lot and fight a lot. We’ve had a lot of games like that and today was another one of them.

“We struggled in the first half but we showed determination and we managed to stay in the game at 1-0. The second half was much better and I think we deserved the three points in the end.

“We had a meeting with the team in the week and I will keep what was said between me and the players but it was positive. We are always looking to move forward.”

Wednesday boss Danny Rohl said his side played well but needed a second goal to kill the game.

Rohl said: “This is a hard one to take today, everyone is really disappointed. Last week we scored two late goals and this week it has happened to us.

“We needed the second goal today but just couldn’t get the final touch we needed.

“This was an unnecessary defeat; I think we controlled the game really well. For me, the performance was good but in the end it’s about the result.

“In the first half we were moving the ball well and we scored a fantastic goal. Anthony is gaining more and more confidence every week and I’m really pleased for him.

“Cardiff were lucky and we were unlucky with the own goals today. In the second half they had two moments and scored two goals but these things can happen.

“It is a shame to take the defeat but we will try and keep the momentum from the last few weeks. There are a lot of games coming and we will work hard in the next couple of days before Coventry.

“It was a big opportunity to gain points looking at other results from the teams around us but we can’t get stuck on this game; we have to move on quickly.”

Erol Bulut hailed Cardiff’s character after they scored two stoppage-time goals to snatch a 2-1 win at 10-man Preston.

Karlan Grant bundled the ball over the line from a yard out, before Ike Ugbo’s 99th-minute header sealed the win for the Bluebirds.

Milutin Osmajić’s 48th-minute goal put Preston ahead but the hosts were on the backfoot for much of the second half following Robbie Brady’s red card.

The winger was shown a second yellow just four minutes after Osmajić’s goal but Preston did brilliantly to keep Cardiff at bay, only to see their hard work undone in stoppage time.

Bulut celebrated wildly at the final whistle and says the result is no less than his team deserved.

“It’s a very important win for us here today. From the first minute of the match until right up until the end of the game, my players showed the character that they needed to,” Bulut said.

“It’s not easy to play against 10 players in this type of situation but we reacted in the right way. Sometimes it can be more difficult than with 11 players, but we did everything right in the game. We kept the ball and tried to create chances throughout the game and got our reward.

“I think we deserved to get the three points at full time as we kept on pushing to create something.

“When I saw there were nine minutes added on at the end, I thought that it could have been closer to 12, because our opponents tried only to waste time in the second half. You could see how important it was for both teams to get the win and eventually we got there.”

The result moved Cardiff up to sixth in the table, just a place and a point behind Preston.

The visitors carved out the better chances in a scrappy opening 45 minutes, but it was Preston who struck first just three minutes after half-time.

Mark McGuinness’ loose touch presented Osmajic with a chance to race in behind the visitors’ defence and he kept his cool to steer the ball past Runar Runarsson.

Veteran winger Brady was shown a second yellow card after clipping Yakou Meite in midfield, and Cardiff camped inside the Preston half.

Grant hit the post from outside the box, before scrambling the ball over the line from a corner, before Ugbo struck with a last-gasp header.

Preston boss Ryan Lowe said: “I’m disappointed for the boys; they are on the floor in the changing room.

“But, I am proud of them for what they did in the game, for large parts of that game that is, particularly having to play with 10 men in the second half.

“We did well, apart from those two moments where there was a bit of luck for them and misfortune for us.

“I cannot fault the lads for what they have put into the match. To lose in the 99th minute, when they put everything on the line, I am so proud of the lads as I always am. It is a result that’s a kick in the teeth at the moment.

“But, we come back in tomorrow and recover, analyse the things we could have done a bit better and pick ourselves up. There were parts of the game, even with 10 men, that I was really pleased with. But, it’s disappointing to not get any points.”

Erol Bulut praised the progress of his Cardiff side despite being held to a goalless draw by Stoke.

The visiting Bluebirds dropped out of the Championship play-off fray after a frustrating afternoon in the Potteries.

Callum Robinson came the closest to breaking the deadlock in the first half as his deflected cutback ricocheted off the post.

And Ryan Wintle, who scored in the same fixture last season, nearly notched a late winner but was denied by Jack Bonham.

However, Cardiff still extended their unbeaten run to three games thanks to a third successive clean sheet, much to the pleasure of Bulut.

“I’m really happy with my players, they’ve made big progress,” said the Cardiff boss.

“It’s not easy for many players here when we remember the last two years with what’s happened and how we started pre-season and the first games.

“It’s not easy to change everything in a positive way. Right now we’ve done it but we need to continue in that way and keep believing in our target.

“We knew that it was going to be a tight game because Stoke have had three great wins against great teams.

“In the first half, we weren’t like what I expect from my team. The second half was so much better and in the end I’m happy with a point.

“We have to look forward and it’ll be good for us to keep our run of clean sheets.

“We had more shots on the goal and we were closer to scoring a goal than Stoke. We had enough chances to score but, in the end, we didn’t.

“Second half, we were much better in our offensive shape but the last pass was not good enough.

“We pressed them higher and got more chances in the second half. If we started like that, maybe the result would have been different.”

Despite three successive wins prior to the tie, Stoke were limited to a solitary shot on target.

However, boss Alex Neil was still encouraged as his resurgent side kept a third consecutive clean sheet of their own.

“A point was probably a fair result but obviously we wanted to win it,” said Neil.

“We played extremely well in the past three games and all our chances today came in the first half.

“We had two or three really good chances to score but unfortunately didn’t take any.

“If we take a chance then it becomes a different game, but then in the second half we played ourselves into trouble when we were trying to play.

“We were wasteful with the ball more than what we’ve been, and that’s the biggest thing I’ll take from the game.

“I put five different players on the pitch to try and influence the game and give us the impetus in the match, but they’re not an easy team to play against.

“The lads are despondent and disappointed but I’m happy with that return [of 10 points from four games].

“That’s the type of game last year that we’d have lost, where we didn’t take our opportunities and then it turns and we end up losing the game.

“If you can’t win, don’t lose. They didn’t deserve to win based on our chances in the first half and we didn’t deserve to win based on our second half.”

Cardiff boss Erol Bulut savoured a Severnside derby victory as Rubin Colwill replied to recent criticism from his manager with a first league goal for 19 months.

Colwill sealed Cardiff’s 2-0 win over Bristol City in stoppage time with a superb strike as the Bluebirds climbed to fifth in the Sky Bet Championship.

The Wales international’s first league goal since March 2022 – cutting between two defenders before rifling a ferocious angled drive in to the roof of the net – came after Bulut said he had a problem with him and team-mate Callum Robinson over their work-rate.

Bulut said: “I was clear what I wanted from those two players. Offensively they are good.

“We saw again from Colwill a great goal, last game Robinson scored and also worked a lot here.

“Defensively they are doing much better than before. I am expecting this because we are 11 on the field and I need 11 players, not 10.

“They understand what I want. I am honest with my players. I don’t tell them anything else. I tell them exactly what I want.

“The good thing is that they try to give me back what I went from them. This makes me happy.”

Colwill has scored twice in the Carabao Cup this season, but the 21-year-old has yet to start a Championship game under Bulut.

He has also lost his place in Rob Page’s Wales squad and dropped down to the under-21 set up after playing in the World Cup last year.

“Rubin is doing well for a long time,” insisted Bulut. “When we put him on, we get this performance that we want to see.

“I hope only for him and I can give him my advice, to not stop, to continue.

“It was not an easy game. After the last game where we won 4-0 against Huddersfield, I said to my team ‘we cannot celebrate, we have to continue to work’.

“We did and this is a good result for my team. I am glad to see this performance from the players.”

Bristol City have lost five of their last seven games and boss Nigel Pearson continues to contend with a lengthy casualty list.

“I can’t get injured players back and unfortunately, we’ve got a small squad anyway,” said Pearson.

“There wasn’t much in the game. We conceded two goals from our own possession but we didn’t create much.

“Cardiff might be doing OK, but I wouldn’t put them up with the best sides at all.

“It was a game with a team in a good seam that capitalised on our mistakes. They didn’t outplay us.”

Cardiff boss Erol Bulut accused his players of not working hard enough in their 1-1 draw with Watford.

The Bluebirds manager watched his side fade markedly after taking the lead in the 26th minute through Mark McGuinness.

The centre-half’s far-post volley from a Joe Ralls corner suggested a comfortable afternoon might be in store for the hosts against a Hornets outfit that had lost their three previous Sky Bet Championship outings.

But while the equaliser from Watford striker Vakoun Bayo arrived after a howler by Cardiff goalkeeper Jak Alnwick, the hosts never did enough to win.

Bulut said: “The first 35 minutes was good, but I don’t know what happened afterwards. We totally changed.

“I don’t know why, whether it was pressure or they were stressed. In the end we have to be happy with one point.

“Perhaps after four wins in a row we thought we were great, but we have to work, and today we didn’t work as a group.

“I am satisfied with the start of the season, but not with today.”

It was a shocking mistake by Alnwick, which left the Cardiff City Stadium stunned.

There appeared no danger when McGuinness played a square pass with his team set to clear their defensive lines.

But Alnwick’s first touch was horrid, the ball bouncing off his boot into the path of Bayo who side-footed into an empty net.

Asked about Alnwick’s howler, Bulut said: “We played too many balls back to the goalkeeper which was not necessary.

“We created the chances for them. When we have the chance to play forward, we must do it. You can use the goalkeeper, but not too much.”

It was no more than Watford deserved, with boss Valerien Ismael insisting his side should have taken all three points.

They improved a lot in the second half, enjoying more possession and creating the better opportunities.

Ismael said: “We should have won, no doubt about that. When a team has lost three games and is low on confidence it is difficult.

“We didn’t trust our own quality. The mentality in the second half was very good and we did not concede any chances.

“We expected more points than we have but we will take it step by step. The goal we conceded was incredible, just too easy. But we kept fighting.”

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