Mark Hudson's wonder goal sealed victory for Cardiff City against visiting Derby County and strengthened their grip on the play-offs.

The defender was a good 10 yards inside his own half when he unleashed a huge kick that caught out Frank Fielding as the ball sailed over the keeper's head.

Joe Mason had given Cardiff the lead when he reacted quickest to drive home after Kenny Miller had hit the post.

The loss was harsh on Derby, who looked the better side for long periods.

A Cardiff victory on Tuesday night was also the tribute that had been demanded in memory of revered former manager Eddie May, who died earlier this week.

Cardiff boss hails 'fantastic' goal

But while the past was honoured, for the immediate future the win means that Malky Mackay's side now sit four points clear of seventh-placed Middlesbrough, who were held to a goalless draw by relegated Doncaster on Tuesday night, with two games remaining.

Victory over Leeds United at home on Saturday will secure Cardiff's place in the play-offs for the third consecutive season.

After firing wide from 20 yards, Miller finally tested Fielding, who tipped the former Derby striker's 18-yard shot round the post.

Derby thought they had opened the scoring after 14 minutes when the recalled Nathan Tyson converted a flick-on from Theo Robinson, but the former Nottingham Forest forward was deemed to be in an offside position.

The game started to open up, with Fielding having to turn away an Aron Gunnarsson strike from distance while Paul Green, earlier thwarted by a solid defensive block by Andrew Taylor, brought the best out of home number one David Marshall.

But it was Cardiff who broke the deadlock in the 24th-minute through Mason, who converted after Miller's strike cannoned back off the post.

The visitors refused to lie down and continued to show their attacking intent, but Jeff Hendrick and Tom Naylor failed to hit the target with long-range efforts.

Defender Jake Buxton called Marshall into action just before half-time with a header from Jamie Ward's corner as Derby finished strongly.

Cardiff doubled their advantage in emphatic fashion after 63 minutes when Hudson collected a poor Fielding kick and, after trying his luck from inside his own half, saw his effort evade the backtracking Derby keeper and nestle into the net.

Derby tried to get back in the match, only for Marshall to continue his fine performance between the sticks by tipping a Hendrick header round the post, while Craig Bryson fired wide from 25 yards.

The Rams' wayward finishing proved to be their downfall as Robinson this time missed the target, shooting over from 18 yards.

In the final minute, Derby almost netted a late consolation but Marshall was equal to John Brayford's shot, while Cardiff substitute Robert Earnshaw saw a shot blocked at the other end as he sought a goal against his former team.

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