Miller orders bread and butter for Bluebirds
Published 16:06 25/01/12 By MirrorFootball
Cardiff may be celebrating reaching their first-ever Carling Cup final – but striker Kenny Miller insists that the club's priority remains securing promotion to the Premier League.
Goalkeeper Tom Heaton was the hero for the Bluebirds as his two penalty saves helped the Welsh club to a 3-1 shoot-out win over 10-man Crystal Palace.
Heaton plays second fiddle to David Marshall at the club, but has featured in six of Cardiff's seven Carling Cup games. He kept out Jermaine Easter and Sean Scannell's efforts after Miller had missed with the first spot-kick of last night's shoot-out.
Jonathan Parr then failed to find the target with the decisive kick, for a Palace side who played 42 minutes with 10 men after Paddy McCarthy's sending-off, to spark rapturous on-field celebrations at Cardiff City Stadium.
But Scotland striker Miller says the squad's focus MUST remain on the league as the third-placed Bluebirds look ahead to a crucial meeting with Southampton in six days' time.
Miller said: "That game is by far and away bigger than this game, no doubt about it.
"The league is our bread and butter and we want to go for promotion. It is fantastic for us to reach a cup final and it's a game and a day we will thoroughly look forward to, but for us the first priority is the league and to get promoted.
"There is a long way to go but next week's game gives us an opportunity that rather than us playing catch-up to the top two, other teams will have to catch us and we can start to turn the screw if we win that game. We will enjoy this success and then start building for that."
But Miller, for whom the final will be a first visit to Wembley, was also quick to stress that Malky Mackay's side will not be heading to the final just to make up the numbers.
And insists they have the players to trouble whoever they end up facing.
He said: "To get to a cup final as a Championship club is fantastic, it's something to look forward to.
"You go to a cup final and you want to give your best and you don't approach any game expecting to lose, and on any given day anything can happen.
"We know we will be underdogs but if you ride your luck, your keeper has a good day and you take the one or two chances that come your way then who knows."
Dougie Freedman's pre-game comments that Cardiff would be "scared stiff" after losing out on big occasions in recent seasons, such as their play-off heartache of 2010 and their 2008 FA Cup final defeat, had attracted a lot of attention but the Palace boss wished opposite number Mackay the best of luck for the final, and paid tribute to his players for their dogged backs-to-the-wall effort.
He said: ""I was only stating the facts, I was only saying what was there and what had happened in the past. I wasn't making anything up, I was only telling my lads what exactly they could go down there and do.
"Cardiff are a wonderful team with wonderful fans and I knew it would be difficult for them, but I was only stating what happened so there are no regrets at all.
"I wish Malky and Cardiff all the best. He's a good friend and I mean that. He's a good guy, he's got a great team, good support and I hope they go on and win it. It'd be nice to be knocked out by the winners.
"I felt we came very close. We won a lot of hearts, in terms of the Cardiff fans as well because I think towards the end they knew the physical output they've had to put in.
"My players will be better and I will be better for the experience and I think overall it was a very well played game. It just wasn't to be."