Mackay praises strike duo

Mackay and Bellamy
Mackay and Bellamy were all smiles after Cardiff's thumping win at Ewood Park. Photo: PA

Cardiff manager Malky Mackay lavished praise on Craig Bellamy and Heidar Helguson after the veteran forward duo inspired the npower Championship leaders to a resounding 4-1 win over Blackburn at Ewood Park.

Bellamy, 33, linked up cleverly with his 35-year-old strike partner to restore City's lead in the 54th minute after Josh King briefly brought Rovers level.

Helguson also laid on goals for substitutes Lee Mason and Kim Bo-Kyung as the Bluebirds made it five wins in six unbeaten games.

For the free-kick that ultimately brought about captain Mark Hudson's opening goal, Bellamy was on the end of a robust challenge from Blackburn midfielder Jason Lowe, and Mackay marvelled at both his and Helguson's propensity to come through bruising encounters despite their advancing years.

"You can't treat everyone exactly the same in terms of how we train them," he said. "The 19 and 20-year-olds are trained slightly differently to the 34 and 35-year-olds - I wish it had been like that in my time but it wasn't.

"Craig and Heidar will have a day during the week where they'll go to the pool and do some stretching and not go out on the grass, but come 7.45pm on a midweek and 3pm on a Saturday they show that experience.

"Craig's been out for four weeks this season with a swollen ankle and a couple of weeks with a knock on his knee but I want bravery - I want people in those positions and a desire to do that.

"He does it every day in training. He wants to train every day and I have to pull him back and say 'no, you're going to the pool today'.

"In games you've got to just let them go and sometimes they take the knock and get up.

"The work that him and Heidar did for the second goal was incredible - he flicks it on to Heidar, Heidar flicks it back to him and he puts a magnificent finish in.

"They've both got their heart on their sleeves and that's what I like."

Having claimed their previous three points last Sunday against Sheffield Wednesday, Mackay will enjoy being on the other side of a game of catch-up with Cardiff four points clear at the Championship summit.

"We were Sunday last week and I had to sit on Saturday afternoon and watch everyone chalk up results and you're sitting sweating," he added.

"You're a day less than everyone in terms of preparation and recovery but once they game's finished, if you do manage to win on Friday night it certainly makes Saturday afternoon that wee bit more pleasing and more relaxing."

Having presided over a third defeat in four winless matches before Blackburn's lowest home crowd of the season, home boss Henning Berg admitted the better side took the points - albeit with a touch of late gloss applied to the scoreline.

"We are disappointed to lose another game at home," said Berg, who insisted Rovers' target for the season remained promotion even though results tomorrow could leave them seven points from the play-off places.

"We think Cardiff were the better team all over, although maybe not as much as the scoreline suggested but you can't have any complaints.

"They were more experienced than us, they had far better finishing and they also defended better than us - I think that was the key in this game.

"We were not happy with the way we defended - we can defend much better than we did and, also, the way we used the ball in the first half is a little bit of a way off where we want to be.

"We can play better than this."