Marlon Pack stood up to manager Neil Warnock at Hull and led a Cardiff City revival at the KCOM Stadium.
Warnock told Pack, returning from injury, not to play for more than 70 minutes, but the midfield general insisted: “I’m staying on.”
Man of the match Pack’s return was a surprise. It was thought he would return in Cardiff’s Under-23 team in a friendly against Llanelli AFC away on Tuesday, but he was keen to play against Hull City and made a big difference.
The presence of Pack in central midfield freed playmaker Leandro Bacuna to push on in support of centre-forward Robert Glatzel – and that link proved a major success.
“It was good to have Marlon back,” said Warnock. “We are a different side when he plays. He makes us play more.
“Personally, I didn’t want him to play more than 70 minutes, but he insisted he was alright.
“It was a great ball from Pack to Bacuna and a lovely cross for the first goal. Leandro was my man of the match again. He has been outstanding for the last few weeks.”
Glatzel, with his second goal in two appearances, and Danny Ward, who scored an injury time equaliser, were the Bluebirds scorers in a match they dominated.
Cardiff extended their unbeaten record to six Championship matches. They now play Queens Park Rangers at home on Wednesday and West Bromwich Albion away next weekend, before going into the international break.
The good news is that Pack is fit following his hamstring and the influential Sol Bamba is due to play in the development team at Llanelli on Tuesday.
There was only one real negative on Humberside and I am still struggling to explain how Cardiff failed to win. They were the better team, particularly in the first half, and should have won comfortably.
But Warnock’s team conceded two goals from set pieces, which is unusual for the Bluebirds, and allowed Hull City a way back into the match.
“I’ve never been so disappointed having scored a late equaliser, if I’m honest,” said Warnock. “We should have been out of sight in the first half, comfortably, and then we are scrapping for an equaliser.
“We played some good football in the first half and had the beating of them with the wide players and around the box. I was pleased with how the lads went, just disappointed with the result.
“It does, though, show that the lads have character in the way they come back.”
Kamil Grosicki’s free-kick put the Tigers ahead against the run of play before half-time and Glatzel equalised after 55 minutes. Jordy de Wijs headed home after 89 minutes and that looked likely to be a winner, but super-sub Ward scored during injury time, to secure a hard-earned away point which could so easily have been three.
“I watched Robert’s run from the edge of the box for his goal. It was a fabulous run,” said Warnock. “Then we chucked the kitchen sink at it, and it was nice to see Danny go on and get a goal.
“We’ve gone six games undefeated now and when you want to go somewhere in this division you have to start on a run like that. It’s a long season, we’ve had some difficult games and now we’ve got two more fixtures until we get a fortnight off.”
Warnock made three changes from the 1-0 victory against Middlesbrough last time out with Glatzel, Pack and Junior Hoilett called up.
Hull included former Cardiff goalkeeper Josh Magennis, who now plays in attack, and he was a lively figure in the Tigers’ attack.
City are now 12th in the Championship, but they will go above Queens Park Rangers on goal difference if they can defeat Warnock’s former club.
Then they head to West Brom next Saturday to take on the unbeaten league leaders. There is, without doubt, plenty of life left in Cardiff’s promotion bid this season.
Hull City: Long, Lichaj, de Wijs, Burke, Stewart, Grosicki (Honeyman 85), Bowen, Fleming, Magennis (Eaves 74), Irvine, Da Silva Lopes (Bowler 62). Subs not used: Ingram, Tafazolli, Batty, Balogh.