Cardiff City started their latest period of managerial transition with defeat against Championship play-off contenders Millwall.
Searching for their third boss of the season after Mark Hudson’s sacking, the Bluebirds were punished for two defensive lapses as Tom Bradshaw gave Millwall a first-half lead.
Cardiff mustered a handful of hopeful long-range efforts after the break but those amounted to nothing for the division’s lowest scorers.
Millwall remain eighth in the Championship table but are now level on points with Middlesbrough in fifth, while Cardiff stay 21st and hovering just three points above the relegation zone as their winless run extends to 11 games in all competitions.
The result exacerbated an angry atmosphere at Cardiff City Stadium, where a group of home supporters had staged a pre-match protest calling on owner Vincent Tan to leave.
Supporters have become increasingly disillusioned with the club’s direction under Tan, sliding towards the Championship’s bottom three and now looking for a fifth manager in two years.
Hudson’s reign had ended here a week earlier, Wigan’s injury-time equaliser sealing the former Cardiff captain’s fate after just four months in charge.
His assistant Dean Whitehead took the reins on a temporary basis and was given a chastening introduction to management with a 5-2 FA Cup defeat at Leeds on Wednesday.
This was another tough examination for Whitehead against a Millwall side looking to regain their place in the Championship’s top six.
Gary Rowett’s men were quick to impose themselves on this encounter, with the impressive George Honeyman crossing invitingly for Zian Flemming, whose first-time shot went wide.
Millwall kept possession confidently and poured forward at regular intervals, though their opening goal was as much to do with Cardiff’s defensive frailties as their own attacking quality.
Jaden Philogene provided the first charitable act by giving the ball away and, after Millwall centre-back Jake Cooper appeared to have overhit his pass, Cardiff’s Cedric Kipre misjudged his attempt to shield the ball out of play and allowed Bradshaw to nip in and finish between Ryan Allsop’s legs.
The home side had chances to get themselves back into the game but lacked finesse in the final third, such as Callum Robinson’s heavy through ball to Philogene, who later fired over with a half-volley.
Allsop then denied Bradshaw a second from another excellent Honeyman cross and, after the break, Honeyman himself was thwarted as his shot was superbly blocked by Mark McGuinness.
At the other end, Cardiff were largely limited to long-range efforts from the likes of Robinson and Kion Etete, though Sheyi Ojo did spurn one decent chance as he headed over.
While Millwall still posed a threat, Cardiff had something to cling on to as long as their deficit remained at just one goal but their attempts to find an equaliser were laboured.
The introduction of Isaak Davies at least injected pace into their attack but, apart from a stray Cooper forearm to the young forward’s head which went unpunished, Davies had little impact.
The best chance of the second half fell to Millwall substitute Jamie Shackleton, whose late shot was well saved by Allsop.
Cardiff simply could not conjure the necessary quality to trouble their opponents. The home crowd’s frustrations grew and, at the final whistle, it was the familiar sound of boos which rung around the Cardiff City Stadium.
- 1AllsopBooked at 62mins
- 23KipréBooked at 72mins
- 6WintleSubstituted forRallsat 69′minutes
- 35RinomhotaBooked at 38mins
- 10OjoSubstituted forDaviesat 69′minutes
- 5CooperBooked at 28mins
- 17StylesBooked at 74minsSubstituted forMaloneat 90+1′minutes
- 23SavilleSubstituted forCresswellat 90+1′minutes
- 39HoneymanSubstituted forVoglsammerat 79′minutes
- 20BennettSubstituted forLeonardat 63′minutes
- 9BradshawBooked at 20minsSubstituted forShackletonat 80′minutes
- Leigh Doughty
Match ends, Cardiff City 0, Millwall 1.
Second Half ends, Cardiff City 0, Millwall 1.
Corner, Cardiff City. Conceded by Jake Cooper.
Foul by Perry Ng (Cardiff City).
Andreas Voglsammer (Millwall) wins a free kick on the left wing.
Attempt missed. Callum Robinson (Cardiff City) left footed shot from the centre of the box is close, but misses the top left corner.
Substitution, Millwall. Scott Malone replaces Callum Styles.
Substitution, Millwall. Charlie Cresswell replaces George Saville.
Mark McGuinness (Cardiff City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Zian Flemming (Millwall).
Attempt blocked. Kion Etete (Cardiff City) header from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Perry Ng with a cross.
Delay over. They are ready to continue.
Delay in match because of an injury Ryan Leonard (Millwall).
Offside, Millwall. Jamie Shackleton tries a through ball, but Zian Flemming is caught offside.
Attempt saved. Jamie Shackleton (Millwall) left footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the bottom right corner. Assisted by Zian Flemming.
Substitution, Millwall. Jamie Shackleton replaces Tom Bradshaw.
Substitution, Millwall. Andreas Voglsammer replaces George Honeyman.
Offside, Millwall. Ryan Leonard tries a through ball, but Tom Bradshaw is caught offside.
Attempt saved. Kion Etete (Cardiff City) header from the centre of the box is saved in the top left corner. Assisted by Joe Ralls with a cross.
Corner, Cardiff City. Conceded by Billy Mitchell.