Russell Martin felt that the Cardiff forward Callum Robinson was guilty of making an “easy mistake” for the seventh-minute red card that allowed Swansea to continue their dominance of the South Wales derby.
Ollie Cooper and Michael Obafemi were on target as Swansea ran out comfortable 2-0 winners to secure a sixth win in eight derby meetings. Cardiff have won just once in that time and their fate on Sunday was sealed when Robinson reacted to Ben Cabango’s early nudge by throwing the ball in to the face of the Wales defender.
“We were helped with the early red card,” Martin, the Swansea manager, said. “It was something we spoke to our players about – especially the young ones in the team – to not get involved in any of that. Thankfully for us, one of their players did. It’s a really easy mistake to make when the atmosphere is like this in such a big game.
“Then, it was about sticking to our game plans more than ever and not changing anything. I really liked us and we should have scored more goals than we did.”
Cardiff’s third successive defeat leaves them 20th, two points above the relegation zone, and their interim manager, Mark Hudson, had no complaints over Robinson’s red card. “It’s about having controlled aggression in moments during a game,” he said.
“It’s something to learn from and I can only focus on the players who were on from seven onwards. They stuck in, fought for the club, fought for the badge, and fought for each other, which is all you can ask.”
Swansea’s seventh win in nine games lifted them to fourth in the Championship, three points adrift of the leaders Queens Park Rangers.
Watford have moved to within three points of the Championship play-off places after thrashing their neighbours Luton 4-0 at Vicarage Road.
First-half goals from Keinan Davis and William Troost-Ekong set the tone and the visitors’ doom was sealed when the goalkeeper Ethan Horvath gifted João Pedro a third, with Ismaïla Sarr completing the rout. The substitute Gabriel Osho saw red late on for a dreadful challenge on Ken Sema to complete a dismal derby day for Luton.
“It was a derby game so not only a great three points but a great performance from start to finish,” Watford’s manager, Slaven Bilic, said. “We should have scored more goals, collectively there was togetherness and second balls we didn’t match them, we beat them. The front guys were absolutely amazing, they destroyed them.
Luton’s manager, Nathan Jones, revealed a sickness bug had ruined his preparations. The captain, Sonny Bradley, started but had to come off at half-time, the substitutes Luke Berry and Dan Potts were too ill to come on and the midfielder Henri Lansbury was absent altogether.
“We never gave ourselves a chance,” Jones said. “They just caught us on a bad day. Congratulations to Watford and apologies to the fans as we didn’t want them to go through that.”
Luton remain ahead of Watford by a place and a point, and Jones was philosophical that a seven-match unbeaten run had come to an end. “Let’s not lose perspective, we have been on a wonderful run,” he said.
“We are not in the worst position, it’s just that today hurts because of who they are and the manner. We will have to get it out of our system.”