Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire/Press Association Images Anthony Gardner celebrates with his team-mates after scoring.

As it happened: Crystal Palace v Cardiff, Carling Cup semi-final

As Jimmy Magee would say, it’s a battle of an ornithological kind as the Eagles host the Bluebirds in the first leg of the League Cup. And we’re liveblogging…

It’s an all-Championship affair tonight in the Carling Cup semi-final first leg at Selhurst Park.

We’re always keen for you to get involved and give us your thoughts so feel free to tweet us at @thescore_ie or email

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Final score: Crystal Palace 1 Cardiff 0

Welcome one and all to the big one. Yes, all eyes will be on tomorrow night’s other semi-final between Manchester City and Liverpool but for the fans of these two Championship sides, they don’t get much bigger.

It’s 40 minutes to kick-off, so the team lineups will be along shortly.

While it may not be the most glamorous affair the League Cup has ever witnessed, both clubs did overcome Premier League opposition to reach this stage so are well worth their place.

An absolute belter from Darren Ambrose sent Palace on their way against Manchester United, while Cardiff beat Blackburn Rovers 2-0 at the Cardiff City Stadium.

Palace manager Dougie Freedman will be cursing his bad luck after a virus hit six of his players.

And while three of those, Anthony Gardner, Paddy McCarthy and Mile Jedinak, have recovered, they make ten changes in personnel to the side which lined up against Derby on Saturday.

Crystal Palace: Speroni, Ramage, McCarthy, Gardner, Parr, Zaha, Dikgacoi, Jedinak, Ambrose, Martin, Murray. Subs: Price, Wright, Garvan, Scannell, Easter, O’Keefe, Andrew.

Cardiff: Heaton, McNaughton, Hudson, Turner, Taylor, Cowie, Whittingham, Gunnarsson, Ralls, Mason, Miller. Subs: Marshall, Kiss, Gerrard, Earnshaw, Conway, Blake, McPhail.

Malky Mackay has told Sky Sports that he’s got no sympathy for his opposite number’s injury troubles and is anticipating both legs to be tight affairs.

Former Spurs defender Anthony Gardner now on chatting about the tie. He says they fancy their chances against tonight’s opponents.

Darren Ambrose, scorer of THAT goal against Manchester United in the last round, starts out left for Palace while Cardiff will be looking to Scottish striker Kenny Miller to deliver the goods. Kick-off is minutes away.

Here we go then.

Cardiff have bombarded the Palace danger area with a number of long throw-ins and as a result have earned themselves an early corner.

A decent move has seen the visitors win a free-kick 20 yards out. Peter Whittingham to take…

His effort strikes the wall before Julian Speroni gets down to smother the ball. Palace have been on the back-foot in the opening nine minutes.

Kenny Miller sends a cross in from the right, which is cleared only as far as Joe Ralls, who sees the venom taken out of his strike before Speroni collects.

Down the other end, Glenn Murray gets away from Ralls to meet a corner with his head. The connection is poor however, and doesn’t trouble Tom Heaton in the Cardiff goal.

Cardiff defender Ben Turner gets the better of Anthony Gardner but heads marginally too high from another corner.

Best chance of the game falls to the home side. Wilfried Zaha, who has switched wings, gets down the left before crossing to Chris Martin.

His lay-off is struck well by South African midfielder Kagisho Dikgacoi but it’s very central and Heaton gets down well.

Kenny Miller wasn’t too far away there. The former Bursaspor frontman receives a pass from Whittingham and whips a shot just wide of the far post. Pretty even game at the moment.

Paddy McCarthy spins off his marker to the back post as Darren Ambrose lofts in a free-kick from wide but Heaton makes his mind up early and plucks the ball out of the air.

GOAL! Crystal Palace 1 Cardiff City 0 (Anthony Gardner)

Another Ambrose set-piece is glanced over Tom Heaton by Mile Jadinak and the big defender is in the right place to head into an empty net and put Palace in front with his first goal of the season.

Half-time: Crystal Palace 1 Cardiff City 0

And Cardiff begin the second half at Selhurst Park…

Eagles striker Chris Martin will be kicking himself after scuffing his shot wide there. The ball was fired into his path, but he should’ve done better.

Shouts for a penalty from the home crowd but replays show the ball struck Done Cowie on the side. Good call from Mike Dean.

Ralls has Speroni scrambling after firing a shot into the ground. The resulting corner sees Kenny Miller head over the line, but fortunately for Palace, they’re awarded a free out for pushing.

After having another chance to see it, that decision looked a soft one and, from where we’re standing… there seemed little wrong with Miller’s goal.

Welsh international Darcy Blake enters the fray in place of Kyle McNaughton. The Cardiff full-back was clearly struggling.

Cardiff have called upon former Leeds and Ireland midfielder Stephen McPhail to get them going in the centre of the park. Joe Mason makes way.

And his first meaningful involvement is to concede a free-kick just short of 30 yards out from goal. Ambrose shoots over, however.

Meanwhile, the Irish connection continues to grow as U21 international Sean Scannell replaces Chris Martin for Palace.

What have you made of Wilfried Zaha’s performance tonight?

Liverpool are just one Premier League club who are believed to be monitoring the 19-year-old winger. He has shown flashes of brilliance and no doubt has bags of potential but is he worth the €12m he is reportedly valued at? Surely not.

Doubt this tweeter thinks so anyway:

Cardiff are piling forward in search of an equaliser here but Palace have bodies back. Aron Gunnarsson steps inside two challenges but can’t keep an effort with his weaker foot down.

Zaha makes way for Cardiff native Jermaine Easter as the fourth official signals four minutes of added time.

Palace are under the cosh a bit here as the final thirty seconds run down.

Full-time: Crystal Palace 1 Cardiff City 0

Man of the match Anthony Gardner is speaking to Sky Sports at the final whistle.

We’re only halfway through the tie. It was intense, but the fire’s in the belly and you could see that in the boys tonight,” said Gardner.

“When you’ve got Darren (Ambrose) in the team, he’s always going to put it on the money.

“It also gives you a chance when you keep clean sheets. We’re looking to go to Cardiff and do the business.”

Palace boss Dougie Freedman: “It was a very proud performance. Every man played his part tonight.

“Mile Jedinak and Paddy McCarthy are pretty much on their feet right now (after the virus) but you’ve got to do it.”

“It’s still all to play for. I thought we were tremendous tonight,” said an upbeat Malky Mackay.

“I was very surprised the referee didn’t given the goal. He’s had an absolute howler there. No one’s touched Speroni.

“We’re going to go there and have a right good go, don’t worry about that,” he added.

So the Eagles take a single goal to Wales for the second leg, which is scheduled for January 24. Cardiff may feel aggrieved after Kenny Miller’s disallowed goal but this tie is still wide open and it’s anyone’s guess which side will be representing the Championship at Wembley on February 26.

Manchester City and Liverpool meet in the second semi-final tomorrow night and we’ll be liveblogging once again so make sure to check in with us. Good night folks!

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