“We’re delighted. Everyone’s buzzing.”
That was the post-match shout from a visibly ecstatic Ben Nugent following Cardiff City’s two-nil win away at Hillsborough on Saturday.
A hard-fought game of limited chances against a well organised side fighting for their Championship lives was settled by two fabulous set-piece deliveries and the clinical finishes they led to, initially Don Cowie’s controlled drive on the stroke of half-time and then, decisively, Matthew Connolly’s close-range header just past the hour mark.
“That was a tough game,” Ben admitted. “For the last half-hour they threw an extra forward on (Gary Madine) and chucked their left-back forward (Reda Johnson), so we knew exactly what we were in for. But we dealt with it well.”
The City youngster, who again stood tall and took the plaudits against a physical Wednesday side, singled new arrival Leon Barnett for praise after he slotted into the back four off the back of just one training session at the club and subsequently turned in an impressively stout rear guard display.
“Leon (Barnett) came in and did a brilliant job,” Ben said. “He brought the experience that we needed, what with Hudson and Turner missing - he was excellent today. He’s a good player, I thought we formed a good partnership and we’ve got a couple of weeks off now to get to know each other more and get a couple of the more experienced lads back in.”
In a vacuum, City’s win, their first since February after a run of three matches without one, was simply another well earned, battling three points that sent them back to winning ways.
However, elsewhere things could hardly have gone better for the Bluebirds with both leaders of the chasing pack, Hull and Watford, losing to Nottingham Forest and at Barnsley respectively. At the end of the afternoon City’s gap had been restored to seven points and crucially to nine over third place. Sunday then made the situation even better as Crystal Palace lost on the road at Brighton.
Yet Nugent was adamant that the teams focus is purely on their own task at hand, stating, “Obviously you keep an eye on what the clubs around you are doing, but we concentrate on our own performance first and foremost and as long as we keep winning then there’s nothing they can do.”