Neil Warnock admitted Cardiff City are just trying to “hang on to the coat-tails” of the Championship leaders even though they picked up their first points away from home this season.
The Bluebirds manager saw his team draw 0-0 at Blackburn Rovers to stop the leakage of six goals conceded in their previous two away defeats.
But an uneventful match, in which Cardiff lacked creative spark, leaves Warnock’s side back in 15th place, already six points behind leaders Leeds United, who could be joined at the top by Swansea City if they beat Birmingham City on Sunday.
“You look at Leeds and Fulham and you look at a few lads who might pull away and we just have to hang on to their coat-tails,” said Warnock.
The result was Cardiff’s first clean sheet of the season and a turnaround after conceding six in two games on the road at Wigan and Reading.
It could have been worse, though, Warnock conceded, as defensive vulnerabilities continue to plague them.
“We could have lost it at the end by being a bit sloppy which we have been on a few away games this season,” Warnock said.
“Overall, though, it was a proper result. I thought we had the better chances but it’s not an easy place to come to.
“We’ve had three games in six days so we had one or two tired legs. A few things have gone against us injury-wise but you have to give the lads credit, when we can play, we do.
“Today it was unusual for us to face so many long balls! I’d get slaughtered! But I thought we coped admirably.
“Most of our lads are from the Championship so there’s nothing new to add, that might be an advantage. We’ve got four tough points from two games so I’m delighted.
Chances were limited for both sides, though the post was struck three times – once by the hosts and twice by the Bluebirds.
Leandro Bacuna’s deflected effort rattled the woodwork early on, before Joe Ralls’ fine low strike had Christian Walton beaten but went wide off the post.
Blackburn’s Derrick Williams volleyed against the same post as Bacuna with two minutes remaining but defeat would have been harsh on Cardiff, who created the better openings without dominating their determined hosts.
After losing their first two league games, Rovers have bounced back and are unbeaten in four in all competitions.
The clean sheet means it is three consecutive shutouts in the league since January.
Rovers manager Tony Mowbray was pleased with his defence and said: “I think we’re disappointed we didn’t get three points. I think we had enough half opportunities to get it.
“Obviously Derrick’s chance at the death off the post was a frustration for us. I just think it was a great game to win 1-0. Would have been a horrible game to lose 1-0 of course and that potentially could have happened because they put a lot of balls in your box and are very direct.
“We have to accept it. Cardiff were in the Premier League last year and have a lot of big players.
“We accept that we didn’t manage to score today, but the positive is a clean sheet and it’s another point, and we keep moving on. If we’d said at the start of the week that we were going to get seven points this week, we’d have probably taken it.
“We haven’t scored enough goals of course but football is always a work in progress.”