Crystal Palace 1 Cardiff 0: Malky Mackay fumes at Mike Dean

Mackay fumes at referee Dean after Miller's goal is disallowed in Palace defeat

Cardiff boss Malky Mackay accused referee Mike Dean of making a 'howler' in disallowing his side a crucial goal in the Carling Cup semi-final first leg defeat at Crystal Palace.

Mackay was furious with Dean's decision to chalk off what would have been a 56th-minute equaliser for Kenny Miller at Selhurst Park after Anthony Gardner had given Palace a half-time lead.

Mackay confirmed Dean had ruled out the goal for a Joe Mason foul on Julian Speroni, a decision the Bluebirds boss claimed the referee made out of fear he had wrongly awarded Cardiff a corner.

Come on ref! Cardiff players complain to Mike Dean after he disallowed a goal

Come on ref! Cardiff players complain to Mike Dean after he disallowed a goal

Mackay said after the 1-0 defeat: 'The referee has made a howler because he's probably thought he made a mistake giving the corner, so he's made amends for that.

'Nobody's touched the goalkeeper. Nobody's anywhere near him.

'Nobody can believe it after we've stuck it into the net. No-one, to a man, can believe the decision, but it's happened.

'It's quite unbelievable. I've seen it from three or four angles, but he's blown with the ball having hardly left the boy's foot for the corner.'

Mackay insisted there was 'no point' confronting Dean about the decision and refused to use the perceived injustice as motivation for the second leg in two weeks' time.

'What spurs us on is our belief in our ability,' he said.

'We've been 1-0 down at half-time in plenty of games so far.

'The amount of chances we created, it's game on.

Rising highest: Gardner heads home to give Palace a narrow first-leg advantage

Rising highest: Gardner heads home to give Palace a narrow first-leg advantage

'I've got faith in my players given the amount of goals we've created this season.'

Mackay said he would need to watch Gardner's winner again before deciding whether Tom Heaton had been at fault after the goalkeeper failed to claim a free-kick but admitted he was 'disappointed' to concede from a set-piece.

Cardiff went into the tie as favourites but Mackay insisted that tag now belonged to Palace, who saw several players recover from a virus that had ravaged the squad in the build-up.

Asked if he had been surprised by the home side's line-up Mackay said: “Not at all. I had a cough as well at the weekend…”

Meamwhile, matchwinner Gardner believes Crystal Palace are well placed to reach the final.

The central defender said: 'It was a good team performance. It was intense. You could see out there it was fiery game.

Party time: Crystal Palace celebrate Anthony Gardner's first-half goal

Party time: Crystal Palace celebrate Anthony Gardner's first-half goal

'Both teams came to win the game and it was a good cup tie. We'll get ready for the second leg now and hopefully we can go there and get a win.

'It might be the crucial goal. We have got a team set up to win away from home. We'll go there quietly confident and it'll be a very interesting game.'

'There's no reason why we can't. We
are a very confident bunch of lads who have beaten some good teams along
the way. We're looking to do the business there.'

On
his goal, a header following a Darren Ambrose free-kick, Gardner added:
'He is always going to put the ball on the money, his free-kicks are
dangerous.'

Palace boss Dougie Freedman hailed the character of his team in a week when a virus has swept through Selhurst Park.

He
said: 'We showed character and determination. Antony was fantastic
defensively – his qualities are there to be seen – but we all worked
hard for the clean sheet.