Cardiff manager Malky Mackay praised the desire in his side following their hard-fought 1-0 npower Championship victory over promotion rivals Middlesbrough.

Matt Connolly's 19th-minute header was the match-winner as the Bluebirds equalled a club record with a ninth successive home win at the Cardiff City Stadium. The Welsh club were forced to overcome injuries to defenders Ben Turner and Andrew Taylor, who both had to be substituted inside the opening half-hour.

They held on for a precious three points which lifts them above Middlesbrough and into second spot in the table. Mackay said: "I'm delighted with the character of the team and the fact we kept another clean sheet at home. But that is no surprise to me because I see that from the players every day.

"Middlesbrough had been on a roll and we knew it would be a tough game. But it became tougher when we lost two players after 20 minutes. We had to put young players in and they did brilliantly well. To show that resilience against a good team showed the commitment to the cause and there are no egos at this club."

Teenagers Ben Nugent and Joe Ralls came in to handle the defensive crisis in admirable fashion. For the goal, which fell between the injuries sustained by Turner and Taylor, Cardiff midfielder Peter Whittingham produced a pinpoint corner and unmarked Connolly nodded home for his fourth goal of the season.

Middlesbrough had chances of their own to level. Grant Leadbitter's 30-yard dipping volley forced David Marshall to tip over his crossbar, and Emmanuel Ledesma cracked the woodwork with a free-kick before Scott McDonald fired over.

In the second half McDonald headed over from close range before Lukas Jutkiewicz's final contribution was a wayward strike off target. Middlesbrough manager Tony Mowbray was content with his side's performance despite a first defeat in 10 matches.

Mowbray said: "I thought we played pretty well. There is a long way to go in the rest of the season and if we perform like we did today for long spells then we will be okay.

"Cardiff are a resilient side who defended well and put their bodies on the line. They had to do that. But they got their noses in front. With Peter Whittingham's left foot, they are dangerous from set-plays and they scored from one.

"But the longer the game went on the chances came and went for us and, ultimately, we didn't manage to stick one in the back of the net. I picked a team to win the game."