Millwall produced a gutsy display to hold the high-flying Bluebirds to a goalless draw at The Den - but were left wondering what might have been after Darius Henderson spurned a glorious scoring opportunity right at the death.
With the match entering the final minute, Liam Feeney produced a strong run on the right flank, and produced a pinpoint delivery to pick out sub Henderson at the far post. The big striker met Feeney's cross, and with The Den faithful willing the ball into the back of the net, watched in horror as his downward header bounced back up and over the bar.
It would have been a tall order to expect Cardiff to claw their way back at that stage of the game had Henderson's header gone in, but on balance a point apiece was just about the right result with Cardiff shading matters possession-wise, but The Lions creating the clearer of what limited chances there were.
"It was a tight and technical game," said Den boss Kenny Jackett, "Cardiff moved the ball around very quickly but didn't really threaten us.
We had two very good chances in the first half and the best opportunity late on with Darius Henderson's header. We just need that little bit of confidence and quality in the wide areas going forward."
Jackett made a couple of changes to his team in a bid to negate Cardiff's 4-5-1 system, and he handed a first start since September to Hamer Bouazza, with James Henry also back in the team for Scott Barron and Henderson, respectively.
The Bluebirds enjoyed the upper hand during the opening 45 minutes and their compact system proved efficient defensively and effective going forward, with the midfield quick to support Kenny Miller operating as a lone striker up front.
Home keeper Steve Mildenhall was called into action on eight minutes and did well to parry a stinging left-foot shot from Peter Whittingham for the first of seven Cardiff corners to Millwall's two.
Filip Kiss' dogged determination nearly created an opening 10 minutes later, as his persistence and power saw the Bluebirds midfielder force his way into the danger zone and to the byline, but Millwall's back four stood firm and his cross was blocked for a corner.
From Whittingham's subsequent set-play Jimmy Abdou lept to head clear for another, before the danger was finally averted when Andrew Taylor fired over.
Millwall's first attack carrying real impetus arrived on 25 minutes when Henry picked up a headed clearance from skipper Paul Robinson and drove forward as The Lions were three on three against The Bluebirds. Henry slipped the ball to Bouazza who overhit his cross and the ball spun out of play for a throw in.
Moments before the half-hour mark, a great ball to the overlapping Jack Smith down the right from Henry was stopped by City's Taylor, who crudely brought down the Millwall full-back, receiving a yellow card from referee Gavin Ward.
At the other end Miller fired a left-foot effort over from 20 yards on 33 minutes and just a minute later, Whittingham dragged a low shot well wide after making space from a similar range.
However, it was The Lions who then conjured up the best two chances of the half; the tireless Feeney created the first, racing down the right before he squared the ball across to the unmarked Henry, but his shot smacked the crossbar from 10 yards out.
Then four minutes before the break Liam Trotter did well to win possession before picking out Jay Simpson, only for the striker's curling effort to flash a yard wide of the far post with keeper David Marshall rooted to the spot.
Lions boss Jackett brought on Henderson for Simpson, perhaps with half an eye on next weekend's trip to Hull City, a game Simpson is unable to play in as the Tigers are his parent club.
Henry went close for Millwall on 62 minutes when he managed to tee himself up just outside the 18-yard box, but his left-foot shot sailed wide of the far post.
The visitors responded and a couple of minutes later Craig Conway's corner was met by the unmarked sub Joe Mason, who thankfully sent his glancing header narrowly off target.
Millwall were fuming 18 minutes from time when a quick breakaway saw Henderson play in Henry, who stormed down the left flank. Henderson was looking for a return pass but as Henry attempted to play the ball back, the big striker was sent crashing to the ground off the ball by Ben Turner with the officials unsighted.
Two minutes later Feeney's deep cross fromm the right was flicked on towards the back post to the unmarked Bouazza, who took a touch and launched a ferocious shot across goal that flew inches past the far post.
With the game opening up nicely during the final quarter of an hour Mildenhall pulled off a fine save to pluck Miller's header out of the air, while Cardiff substitute Rudi Gestede fired over following a scramble inside the box from a corner.
However, with the game poised at 0-0 entering the 90th minute, Millwall contrived to create and miss a great opportunity to secure victory with the last chance of the game courtesy of Feeney's cross and Henderson's header that bounced agonisingly over.
Millwall: Mildenhall, Smith, Baker, Abdou, Robinson, Lowry, Bouazza (N'Guessan, 78mins), Trotter, Feeney, Simpson (Henderson, 46mins), Henry. Subs not used: Allsop, Dunne, Howard.
Bookings: Henry (78mins), Lowry (83mins)
Cardiff City: Marshall, McNaughton, Taylor, Kiss (Mason, 38mins), Hudson, Whittingham, Cowie, Miller, Conway (Gestede, 68mins), Turner, Ralls. Subs not used: Earnshaw, Naylor, Heaton.
Booking: Conway (28mins)
Ref: G Ward
Att: 11,340 (away 1,321)