Neil Harris insists there will be no lengthy inquests into Cardiff City’s first defeat since lockdown – just a determination to recover their ground quickly in the race for the Championship play-offs.
The Bluebirds’ surprise 3-2 surrender at home to Blackburn Rovers on Tuesday night – after they led 1-0 and 2-1 – has opened the door to both Derby County and Swansea City in the fight for sixth place.
But Harris is refusing to give it much of a backward glance after believing Adam Armstrong’s spectacular 45-yard winner was worthy of settling any game.
Instead, the manager is looking forward to Friday evening’s trip to in-form Fulham, who still have hopes of achieving automatic promotion.
“This is not a time for over-analysing it, we just move onto the next game on Friday,” said Harris after Cardiff’s first defeat following three wins and a draw since the restart.
“But it was a reminder that we have had to work ridiculously hard to get where we are.
“If we don’t win all the little duels, then we are not as good as other teams. But we have to take it on the chin and wait for the results tomorrow night. There are two weeks of the season left, so there’s no time for regret.
“We’ve had a winning mentality in the team for a while now, we saw that in my players tonight and the hunger, but didn’t have that defensive mentality and strength that we’ve had.
“And that’s as a team and not individuals. We look forward to Friday and barring Derby taking West Brom to the cleaners we’ll be in the top six with four games to go and that’s our solace.
“But to stay there we have to be a lot better behind the ball in the coming games than we were tonight.
Fully 45 yards from goal when he intercepted a stray pass from Leandro Bacuna, former Newcastle man Armstrong curled a spectacular curling shot over Cardiff goalkeeper Alex Smithies in the 70th minute when it was 2-2.
Rovers came from behind twice to take all three points with Danny Graham cancelling out Will Vaulks’ brilliant opener before half-time.
Even though Robert Glatzel put Cardiff back ahead at 2-1 before the break, Dominic Samuel equalised for a second time within a minute of the re-start.
Admiring of Armstrong’s winner, Harris admitted: “It was just a brilliant goal from the lad – a moment of class on the football field.
“If you can put the ball into the roof of the net from 45 yards, fair play to him.
Blabkburn manager Tony Mowbray said: “I think we deserved it on the balance of play. It was the right result.
“Tonight we took our chances which we haven’t been doing.”
“Adam has been doing that kind of thing for two years. He has scored a number of spectacular goals and I’m sure he will score more.
“But we are talking about performance levels now, not the league table. We will just try and win the next game and see where that takes us.”
The eye-catching events were begun by Cardiff, although far better teams than Blackburn would have yielded to the quality of Vaulks’ exquisite opener in the 13th minute.
Set free down the left by Joe Ralls, the Welsh international struck a nonchalant half-volley with the outside of his foot that that arced pleasingly over the head of stranded goalkeeper Christian Walton.
But within eight minutes Cardiff were pegged back as Darragh Lenihan’s header from a corner struck the post, enabling Graham to sweep the ball home.
At 1-1, Blackburn looked more threatening, but Cardiff recovered to end the half in the ascendancy and they were rewarded with a second goal to take the lead.
A flowing move down the left involving Ralls, Josh Murphy and Joe Bennett ended with Bennett sliding the ball across for Glatzel to score his eighth goal of the season.
The cut and thrust continued straight after the break as Samuel was bundled over in the opening minute and then jumped up to score a second equaliser just seconds later.
Appeals for a penalty were strangely waved away when Curtis Nelson clearly chopped down Samuel from behind, but the striker enforced his own justice by immediately turning Bradley Johnson’s cross past Smithies to make it 2-2.
Samuel had another shot well saved by Smithies, before Armstrong’s outrageously inventive touch gave Blackburn a lead they managed to cling to.