By David Williams
Mick McCarthy insists Cardiff City are playing for more than just pride even though their play-off hopes are officially over.
Failure to hold on to a 1-0 lead at Brentford on Tuesday night means the small mathematical chance the Bluebirds had of climbing back into the top six have gone.
But McCarthy was still pleased with his side’s performance in the 1-1 draw at the club laying fourth in the Championship and reckons players are striving to build foundations for themselves and the club for next season.
Cardiff have slipped to ninth in the table and have 61 points with three games left to play.
The Bees wasted a handful of clear-cut opportunities before Tariqe Fosu’s long-range effort deceived keeper Alex Smithies to cancel out Kieffer Moore’s spot kick.
“I don’t get the impression from my boys that there’s nothing to play for, “said McCarthy.
“They train like demons and they are professional footballers who play with pride. Anyone who dropped their guard and didn’t want to do that wouldn’t be anywhere near my side.”
McCarthy was pleased with a dominant first half display but admitted his side were under the cosh after the break.
“Brentford are a good side and they’re up there for a reason, but even though we were forced to defend I still thought we might nick it.”
McCarthy had words of support for keeper Alex Smithies, whose howler gifted Brentford their equaliser.
“Smudge is upset in the dressing room. He’s made a mistake but he made the save in the first half from Ivan Toney. It’s a mistake but we all make them.”
Brentford boss Thomas Frank praised his side’s performance in a draw with that left the Bees’ automatic promotion hopes hanging by a thread.
Watford’s 1-0 win at Norwich leaves the hosts needing a miracle to make the top two, but Frank remained upbeat.
“I was very proud of them and they certainly did enough to win. If we consistently put in these kind of performances it will turn around,” said the Dane.
“It was a very different performance to the one against Millwall. They left everything out there, showed a top attitude and played well in terms of creating chances.”
Frank insisted his side would not give up on a top two finish, and believes the fine margins will start to turn his side’s way soon
“We ran, fought and played for each other but sometimes we need the ball to drop for us or a bit of luck – and I can back that up with numbers,” he said.
“We are undefeated in eight but we’ve drawn six and we can’t run away from that, but we’ve deserved more in four of those draws.
“Sometimes we lacked a little quality, cutting edge or those fine margins to go our way, but they will.”