It wasn’t the result Sheffield Wednesday wanted.
But they may look back at the point secured against a rejuvenated Cardiff City side as an important one come the end of the season.
The Owls didn’t play at their fluent best but ground out the result. It was a battling, hard-working performance which augurs well for the rest of the campaign.
The result lifted them into the Championship Play-Off positions for the first time this term and you still get the sense there is a lot more to come from this squad.
It would have been easy for them to buckle after falling behind in the ninth minute thanks to Peter Whittingham’s exquisite free-kick.
But Carlos Carvalhal’s charges are made of stern stuff and Daniel Pudil’s first goal since returning to Wednesday on a permanent basis stretched their unbeaten away run to three outings.
After being outplayed for long periods in the first half, Carvalhal will have been delighted with the character and fighting spirit they demonstrated after the break. Four points from two tough-looking away-days is an excellent return.
Carvalhal handed first-team recalls to Ross Wallace and Almen Abdi, with Barry Bannan and Fernando Forestieri making way. Bannan, below-par by his high standards against Huddersfield Town last weekend, did not travel to South Wales while Forestieri dropped to the substitutes bench.
Striker Steven Fletcher, whose wife gave birth to a girl over the weekend, missed out due to illness but Urby Emanuelson was named in the match-day squad.
Neil Warnock, the former Sheffield United manager and a self-confessed Blade, kept faith with the same team who beat Bristol City in his first match in charge last Friday.
Writing in his programme notes, Warnock said: “It’s like another derby for me personally in many ways having managed at Sheffield United for many years!
“Wednesday are a really good club and I like Carlos; he’s one of the unsung heroes in management who just gets on with his job. I feel that Wednesday, under him, will be right up there again this season.”
Cardiff and Wednesday supporters observed a minute’s silence before kick-off in memory of the 144 people who lost their lives in the Aberfan disaster 50 years ago.
Cardiff made their intentions clear from kick-off when Rickie Lambert’s ambitious long range strike was tipped over the top by Keiren Westwood.
Warnock, a man who Wednesday fans love to hate, had his players fired up and the Bluebirds got off to a flier, with Whittingham scoring a trademark free-kick. The experienced midfielder curled home from 25 yards after Sam Hutchinson had been penalised for bringing down Craig Noone just outside the penalty area.
Carvalhal remonstrated with the fourth official over the decision to award a free-kick but his complaints fell on deaf ears. It certainly looked a dubious call.
It is the eighth time in 13 league matches that the Owls gone behind. They keep giving themselves far too much to do.
While the visitors looked disjointed and bereft of ideas, there was a vibrancy and brightness to Cardiff’s play. They appeared fresher, having played Friday night compared to the South Yorkshire club’s match on Sunday.
A long throw in by Iceland international Aron Gunnarsson caused mayhem in Wednesday’s penalty area and Lambert, leading the line intelligently, turned sharply before volleying just over.
It was another big let off for the Owls and things got even worse for Carvalhal’s men as Westwood was forced off with an injury, meaning rookie goalkeeper Cameron Dawson was brought on as a sub for the second time in the last three matches.
Wednesday finally awoke from their slumber and Gary Hooper forced Ben Amos into action in the 34th minute following a clever corner routine involving David Jones and Adam Reach.
Carvalhal’s charges finished the half strongly, with Abdi sending a free-kick over before Reach tried his lucky from distance.
Reach, the Owls’ record signing, worked tirelessly alongside Hooper up front and his cracking 25-yard effort was brilliantly turned behind by Amos.
But on the stroke of half-time, Cardiff nearly doubled their advantage when captain Sean Morrison’s header was cleared off the line following a penalty box melee from Whittingham’s corner.
It was no surprise that Carvalhal turned to Forestieri at the interval. His team needed a spark from somewhere.
However, Cardiff continued to carve out opportunities and new arrival Junior Hoilett saw his low shot kept out by academy graduate Dawson.
And Wednesday levelled things up in the 55th minute, with Amos unable to prevent Pudil’s strike going in following good play by Reach and Hooper.
All of a sudden the momentum was with the visitors and Reach dragged wide before Wallace blasted over after another good attack.
Both teams pushed for a winner and Forestieri was denied by the agility of Amos while substitute Anthony Pilkington headed over at the other end in the dying minutes.
Cardiff: Amos; Peltier, Morrison, Bamba, Bennett; Noone (Pilkington 61), Whittingham (O’Keefe 85), Ralls, Gunnarsson, Hoilett; Lambert (Chamakh 62). Substitutes: Wilson, Richardson, Connolly, Harris.
Wednesday: Westwood (Dawson 32); Palmer, Lees, Hutchinson, Pudil; Wallace (Buckley 75), Lee, Jones, Abdi (Forestieri HT); Reach, Hooper. Substitutes: Loovens, Emanuelson, Hunt, Nuhiu.
Referee: Darren Bond (Lancashire)