Cardiff City's goalkeeper Tom Heaton has stated that the Championship team will walk out at Wembley next month convinced they have the quality to prevail despite the prospect of confronting Liverpool or Manchester City in their first ever League Cup final.
Heaton, a former Manchester United youth-team player but a back-up to David Marshall in the league this term, denied Jermaine Easter and Sean Scannell from the penalty spot as Cardiff edged out Crystal Palace in a shoot-out to secure a fourth trip to the national stadium in as many years. Cardiff won 1-0 here for a 1–1 aggregate scoreline.
"This is massive, something you dream about as a boy," said Heaton. "There are two great teams in the other semi but we'll be trying to win it. It won't just be a day out. We've got enough about us in this team, with the players and the management, that we can go and get a result. On we march."
An own-goal from Anthony Gardner, who had scored Palace's winner following a Heaton mistake in the first leg, left this tie level after extra time despite the home side playing against 10 men for the last 42 minutes and striking the woodwork three times. "Tom's been fabulous throughout the competition," said Cardiff's manager, Malky Mackay. "He's played second fiddle to David in the league but he knew this was his competition. I told him that. He might have had a bit of criticism after the goal in the first leg, but he has great character.
"When [Aron] Gunnarsson hit the bar with the last effort of the tie [in extra time] I did wonder whether it would happen for us but I always had great belief in my players' ability, spirit and determination. I'm very proud of them tonight. History has been made at the football club."
Palace, who had eliminated Manchester United in the quarter-final at Old Trafford, will now seek to deflect interest in their younger players before the transfer window closes next Tuesday, with the likes of Nathaniel Clyne and Wilfried Zaha, both impressive here, coveted by Premier League opponents. "We are on a tight budget," said the manager, Dougie Freedman. "We work hard for each other, and it would be hard to lose anyone, but unfortunately that's not my decision. But I'm proud of my team and they'll be stronger for this experience."