Carling Cup: Palace boss Freedman confident about second leg

Crystal Palace boss Dougie Freedman says he is confident his side can reach the Carling Cup final after securing a first-leg semi-final lead over Cardiff.

Anthony Gardner scored the only goal to give them a 1-0 win at Selhurst Park, with the return fixture on 24 January.

Freedman, whose side won at Manchester United in the previous round, said: "It might be the crucial goal.

"We have a team set up to win away from home. We'll go there quietly confident and it'll be a very interesting game."

Freedman, 37, celebrates a year in charge of Palace on Wednesday, with his side holding a slender advantage over a team eight places above them in the Championship.

The Eagles were hit by a virus earlier in the week. Of the affected players, Nathaniel Clyne did not make the side, while Freedman said Paddy McCarthy and Mile Jedinak were "dead on their feet" after the game.

The Palace manager also praised former Tottenham defender Gardner, who helped keep a vital clean sheet as they head to Cardiff. The Bluebirds boast the Championship's second-best home record.

"I'm very pleased with performance on such a wonderful occasion," Freedman told BBC Sport.

"A lot of questions were asked of us from Cardiff because they are a good team but I felt on tonight's performances we deserved the narrow 1-0 victory.

"Dean Moxey and Nathaniel Clyne are still packed up in bed, Mile Jedinak and Paddy McCarthy are pretty much miracles to have played tonight, because they haven't trained at all and there were concerns as the game went on, but the character they showed was second to none.

"Cardiff started and ended very well, but overall we defended fantastically well and we have some exciting players up top that can get you a goal.

"The last time I looked at the coaching manual, that's how you perform. You defend, you keep clean sheets and you try and score at the other end. Analysing the game overall, I thought we did that better than the opposition."

On the goalscorer Gardner, Freedman added: "Anthony is fantastic in the air and defensively fantastic. In attack, he's a real asset as well.

"With that advantage, we let Cardiff make the calls and as and when they made substitutions we would react to them."

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