Cardiff boss Dave Jones endured a miserable return to former club Southampton, as the south coast club recorded a second consecutive home win to give their survival chances a massive boost.
David McGoldrick scored the only goal of the game from the penalty spot after just 11 minutes, as Mark Kennedy was adjudged to have handballed from a Jason Euell cross.
Cardiff, who were unbeaten in their previous 13 games going into today’s match, struggled to find their best form as Saints held on for a vital win which still leaves them in the relegation zone.
Much like last week, Saints started the game very brightly, with Andrew Surman and the in-form Marek Saganowski probing but failing to break the Bluebirds’ defence.
McGoldrick’s spot-kick on 11 minutes seemed to spark City into life, and Roger Johnson had an effort that seemed destined for the net, only for Czech international Rudi Skacel to get his body in the way and block the shot.
Saints were next to threaten in the 25th minute when Surman crossed for Saganowski, only for the Pole to head wide from a good position in the middle of the penalty area.
Saints’ fans then had their hearts in the mouths as Cardiff looked to have grabbed an undeserved equaliser. Roger Johnson was denied from point blank range by the superb Kelvin Davis, before Ross McCormack’s effort was kept out by an unbelievable save from the Saints captain, as the 32-year-old tipped the ball around the post from a seemingly impossible angle.
The impressive McGoldrick continued to silence his critics, myself included, by going close once again, before Johnson had an effort comfortably saved by Davis in the Saints goal.
The hosts continued to contradict their poor league position, as Jason Euell hit a 20-yard screamer but Dimi Konstantopoulos managed to save and hold onto the ball, much to the relief of the travelling fans.
Despite having the better of the first half, Saints couldn’t translate their dominance into clear-cut chances, and so the hosts went into the break with a one goal lead.
Cardiff boss Dave Jones introduced former Arsenal midfielder Quincy Owusu-Abeyie for Peter Whittingham at the interval in a bid to spark his playoff chasing side into life.
Jones’ switch appeared to have a positive impact, as McCormack went agonisingly close with a free-kick from the edge of the area, before Gabor Gyepes headed wide of the target after Euell’s block.
With just over 60 minutes on the clock, Saganowski went close to doubling his side’s lead after Euell fired the ball across goal, but their was nobody home to provide the finishing touch.
Saganowski nearly made it seven goals in as many games after a mix-up in the Cardiff defence gave the Polish striker some room to shoot, but he could only fire over from close range.
With the game drawing to a close, City had a strong claim for a penalty turned down after appealing for handball against Chris Perry.
American striker Eddie Johnson then wasted Cardiff’s final chance for an equaliser in the third minute of stoppage-time, as he blazed his effort into row Z from Chris Burke’s cross.
As the referee brought proceedings to a close, Saints’ Head Coach Mark Wotte couldn’t hide his delight at picking up another three points, as he swung his suit jacket around his head in joy.
Although the performance wasn’t as good as last week’s victory over Preston, the outcome was just the same, with Saints getting their second consecutive win and their third home win of the season.
On today’s showing, Saints are more than capable of beating the drop to League One. They battled for one another, challenged for every ball and showed a number of qualities that they will need in order to maintain their Championship status.
Davis, James, Saeijs, Perry, Skacel, Lallana (Schneiderlin 72), McGoldrick (Wright-Phillips 81), Gillett, Surman, Saganowski (Liptak 89), Euell.
Subs not used: Forecast, Smith.
Konstantopoulos, Comminges (Eddie Johnson 81), Roger Johnson, Gyepes, Kennedy, Burke, Rae, Ledley, Whittingham (Owusu-Abeyie 46), McCormack, Parry.
Subs not used: Scimeca, Purse, Capaldi.