CARDIFF CITY'S dream of playing First Division football next season moved a step closer last night as Wrexham sank deeper into relegation trouble in a thrilling Welsh derby at Ninian Park.
Goals from Scott Young, Peter Thorne and Danny Gabbidon nudged the Bluebirds into sixth-place in Division Two - the first time Cardiff have occupied a play-off berth since Boxing Day.
It may be short-lived if promotion rivals Bristol City collect three points at struggling Bournemouth today, but Cardiff have a crucial game in hand on the West Country club - the trip to Huddersfield on April 9.
However, last night's performance was nowhere near as convincing as last weekend's 7-1 blitz at Oldham as City again allowed their concentration to lapse at times.
And after substitute Hector Sam had given Wrexham hope with an 88th minute effort, the Bluebirds had to endure a nervous last few minutes.
The sense of anticipation among Cardiff supporters is in stark contrast to the sinking feeling most Red Dragons followers must now be feeling.
Four points from safety before last night's match, Wrexham will be cast further adrift if results fail to go their way in Division Two today.
Wrexham's run-in includes games against promotion-chasers Hudders-field and Stoke City, but manager Denis Smith is certain to take confidence from last night's performance.
Smith's men were forced on to the back foot when the first chance fell to Cardiff after six minutes.
Defender Andy Legg neatly controlled Campbell's long-cross and dashed into the 18-yard box before threading a pass to the in-rushing Leo Fortune-West.
But the big striker's shot was well gathered by Wrexham goalkeeper Marius Rovde.
A foul on Legg led to Bluebirds defender Young netting the opening goal eight minutes later.
Graham Kavanagh swung in a left-sided free-kick, Gabbidon flicked on and the Pontypridd-born defender was well-placed to notch his second goal in two games.
Only three minutes passed until City went 2-0 up.
The cross was again supplied by Kavanagh - this time from the right - and Fortune-West had a shot snuffed out.
But Wrexham could only clear as far as Willie Boland, who crossed back into the six-yard box for the rejuvenated Peter Thorne to head past Rovde from close range.
Just as it seemed Cardiff would sink the Red Dragons before half-time, Wrexham grabbed a lifeline on 34 minutes.
Lee Trundle whipped in a free-kick - awarded after Legg's boot connected with the striker's face - and Craig Faulconbridge scored with a diving far-post header.
But Cardiff restored their two-goal advantage three minutes into the second half with a sublime solo effort from Gabbidon.
The left-sided defender was afforded space and time to drift forward before rifling an unstoppable right-footed shot past Rovde from the edge of area.
Rampant City almost made it four moments later when Legg blasted a 30-yard effort just over the woodwork and Kavanagh then thundered a free-kick over Rovde's crossbar.
Sam gave Wrexham the belief they could snatch a point when he grabbed their second goal two minutes from time.
The Trinidad and Tobago international beat Cardiff's off-side trap before stroking the ball over Bluebirds goalkeeper Neil Alexander from the left side of the area.
It triggered a nervous final few minutes for City, but the home side -who threw on Michael Simpkins to help shore up the defence - weathered the storm and hung on to claim a crucial three points.