By Paul Jones
Mick McCarthy has conceded Cardiff City’s play-off dream is over, barring some kind of miracle.
The straight-talking Bluebirds manager admitted only an unforeseen meltdown by a number of clubs above his team would enable Cardiff to finish in the top six following their 2-2 draw at home to Blackburn.
Adam Armstrong scored a 91st minute equaliser to give Rovers a draw they richly deserved after they had hit the woodwork three times.
The result leaves Cardiff nine points adrift of sixth place with just five games left and McCarthy admitted: “It would require an unlikely set of events.
“I know we had a great start when I came in. Everything was going well, but I was never fooled to thinking we were one of the best teams in the league.
“We were just having one of the best runs in the league.
“It feels like a defeat because of the lateness of both goals. We should be able to hang on to that. We’re all feeling sick about it.
“Whether we won all our games or not, the other teams are capable of winning theirs. All we can do is look after our games and performances and results. Unfortunately we haven’t.”
Cardiff went ahead through Will Vaulks but Armstrong’s first goal levelled the score before half-time.
Blackburn then dominated and twice hit the post, then the crossbar, before Joe Ralls made it 2-1 to Cardiff against the run of play.
It looked as if Cardiff might hang on, but Armstrong’s second goal, when he turned inside Aden Flint and produced a sharp finish, leaves McCarthy mulling over just one win in seven games.
“From their guy’s perspective it’s a fabulous finish, but from our view it’s bad defending, giving a 20-goal striker that much space
“He’s a very good player and he’s having a brilliant season. Our lads tried to deal with him, but it’s easier said that done.
“It’s like when Kieffer Moore was scoring goals. It’s not easy to deal with. He’s a good player.
McCarthy admitted part of his focus is now already turning towards next season.
“I had a good idea already, I’ve been here nearly two months so you’re always evaluating it and calculating what you need, what’s not going to be here.
“We’ve got players on loan who are very unlikely they’ll be coming back and we will be losing a bit of quality there.
“The next five games, we want to win them and get points, but we will have an eye on what’s been happening next season.”
Blackburn boss Tony Mowbray was left unsatisfied with point he felt should have been three but grateful for his talisman Armstrong’s talent.
The striker who has attracted interest from Premier League clubs has now scored 22 goals this season.
“Adam Armstrong is a goal scorer and that’s the bottom line. You give him an inch, he’ll score a goal.
“When he gets the ball on the edge of the box, he can always drop a shoulder and shoot off either foot.
“It would have been really harsh if we’d have lost that. We scored a late goal, but we should have scored more.”