Neil Warnock insisted he was satisfied with a point against Huddersfield – if only because the outcome could have been worse for Cardiff City.
A true stinker of a game ended 0-0, a result that suited Cardiff marginally more than their visitors, although it could easily be argued this was the Bluebirds’ worst performance of the season so far.
It is one thing to be brushed aside by the likes of Tottenham or Manchester United, but another to be outplayed at home by a club bottom of the table and who arrived on the back of nine straight defeats.
After a brief promising opening period, Cardiff were second best and miles off the levels they had set weeks before when they beat the likes of Fulham and Wolves with such conviction.
The Cardiff manager, though, is nothing if not loyal towards a group of players he knows will probably gain little from being berated in public for their lack of quality.
Instead, Warnock – whose team’s margin above the relegation zone has been whittled down from four points a couple of weeks ago to just one – prefers to stress their battling qualities.
They will need all those – and more energy and creativity than they showed against Huddersfield – if they are to get anything from a huge match at Newcastle next week.
Warnock said neither of his two most likely goal sources, Callum Paterson and Victor Camarasa, were fully fit, saying: “They have helped me out.
“Camarasa has got a muscle injury from last week and Paterson couldn’t get around like he normally does.
“It would have been easy to have lost that game in the last few minutes.
“But that’s our sixth clean sheet, which is a good statistic. If you cannot win, then you get a point.”
Huddersfield manager David Wagner accused referee Lee Mason of costing them a precious win after he overturned his decision to award the Terriers a 76th-minute penalty.
One point could have turned into three but for Mason changing his mind over giving Huddersfield a penalty when full-back Florent Hadergjonaj tumbled.
Mason spoke to his assistant Stuart Burt before reversing his decision, instead awarding a free-kick to Cardiff for Hadergjonaj pushing Joe Bennett before the Switzerland international fell in the box.
“Everybody knows the referee gave a big decision that cost us the game,” said Huddersfield boss Wagner, who revealed that he had only spoken to Burt and not Mason after the final whistle.
“It was the most clear-cut chance of the whole game and they took it away from us.
“I know they (officials) have a very difficult job, but sometimes they make it much more difficult for themselves.
“The referee even gave them the ball. I have no clue what was in their head.
“After seeing the footage, it’s a clear penalty, but I don’t know how many decisions like this have gone against us this season.
“We will probably get another phone call from the FA apologising for the decision.
“Six weeks ago, our negative run started with one of the worst days for Michael Oliver against Brighton when he made a mistake.”
Warnock, perhaps not surprisingly, had a different take on the game’s main talking point.
Warnock felt Huddersfield should not have had a spot-kick and he insisted Cardiff should have had a first-half penalty when Hadergjonaj appeared to trip Junior Hoilett.
“It was a good job we had an experienced linesman because there was not enough contact for a penalty,” Warnock said.
“Thankfully, the linesman was well placed and was brave enough to see it for what it was.
“Junior Hoilett’s penalty shout was 10 times worse. How that can be two people with a genuine coming together over the ball, I don’t know.”
Warnock remains hopeful of bringing in new blood in the January transfer window, but concedes that so far he might have enjoyed more success in getting blood out of a stone.
“We’re hopeful. But you won’t go home tonight and hear me on the radio telling you about a new signing.
“We’ve got three main targets now, but we thought we had a midfielder signed last week and that fell through.
“I don’t think you can say anything until they’re actually sat in your office signing the papers.
“Agents get a sniff elsewhere, with better deals. That’s the job we’re in at the minute.”