The Bluebirds fell to a frustrating 2-0 defeat at the hands of West Ham United at Cardiff City Stadium, thanks to a goal late in each half.
Carlton Cole gave the visitors the lead in the forty-second minute to give West Ham a half time lead before a late strike from Mark Noble secured all three points for Sam Allardyce's side and see Ole Gunnar Solskjær suffer defeat in his first home match as manager at Cardiff City Stadium.
The second half saw James Tomkins receive a second yellow card for a challenge on Campbell with City pushing hard to gain an equaliser only to be denied on numerous occasions. As Cardiff continued their search for an elusive leveller, West Ham broke in injury time grab that all important second goal of the game.
Solskjær made four changes to the side that beat Newcastle United in the FA Cup with Budweiser as Gary Medel, Kevin Theophile-Catherine, Kim Bo Kyung and Fraizer Campbell returned to the starting-11 while Craig Bellamy and new signing Magnus Wolff Eikrem took their place on the bench.
It was West Ham who started the brighter however in Solskjær’s first game at the Cardiff City Stadium. With little over three minutes on the clock West Ham struck the upright straight from a free kick. The rebound off the woodwork landed at the feet of the Irons’ centre back Tomkins, who saw his effort saved at point blank range by David Marshall.
There was a lengthy delay as Guy Demel received treatment in his own area after an aerial collision with Roger Johnson in the six-yard box. Defender George McCartney then replaced him after being stretchered off by medics.
As the twenty-five minute mark approached Peter Odemwingie showed some individual brilliance to evade four West Ham defenders, before producing a perfectly waited cross to Noone, only to see his effort deflected over the cross bar.
City very nearly took the lead just after the half hour mark. Kim Bo-Kyung made an excellent run from the halfway line to the opposition penalty area before hitting the crossbar with his deflected shot, before the ball came agonisingly close to creeping over the line. Instead Spanish keeper Adrian gathered the ball and a free kick was given after Campbell’s attempt to knock the ball across the line was deemed to be a foul.
Cardiff were starting to get a strong foothold in the game and were starting to test United’s resolve. After some strong build up play Craig Noone forced Adrian to save low to his left.
With forty minutes on the clock City saw an attempted long pass strike referee Lee Mason’s head. With that lucky break West Ham broke forward and made use of their fortune - A driven cross from Matt Jarvis found its way to the on rushing Carlton Cole who neatly finished passed Marshall.
The unusual sight of ten minutes of added time was announced at the end of the half but City did not take advantage of this lengthy period and went into the break with a one goal deficit.
HALF TIME: CARDIFF CITY 0 – 1 WEST HAM UNITED
City manager Solskjær introduced Craig Bellamy into proceedings at the expense of Peter Odemwingie. The former Welsh International was right in the thick of it as his in swinging free kick found the head of captain Hudson who’s flicked on effort could only be diverted over the crossbar.
Matt Jarvis went close for the visitors, after receiving the ball between two Cardiff defenders his shot could only be dragged wide of the far left post.
Cardiff were increasing the pressure on Sam Allardyce’s men and that pressure nearly came into fruition with fifty-eight minutes gone. The ball was played wide to Bellamy who presented Campbell with a brilliant timed pass, only to be denied by a great reaction save from Adrian.
This promising spell of play kicked the Cardiff City Stadium into life. City saw a large portion of possession and also saw Whittingham have a shot on target, before the midfielder again knocked on the door after some intricate feet inside. Once again the West Ham stopper collected the ball.
With City still looking to claw back the deficit Solskjær made his second change of the afternoon. Gary Medel made way for Magnus Eikrem to make his Cardiff City debut.
Welsh international Jack Collison showed some fine individual play as he created a chance for himself after an impressive turn on the edge of the eighteen-yard box. Luckily for the Bluebirds’ faithful his effort sailed over the bar.
Shortly after saw the comeback of Andy Carroll for the Hammers. However, the Hammers were soon down to ten men as James Tomkins received a second yellow card for a high boot on Fraizer Campbell.
The third and final Cardiff City substation saw striker Andreas Cornelius enter the field and Mark Hudson exit. This attacking change saw Cardiff camped around the West Ham area as they looked to make the breakthrough against the ten men.
City were producing efforts such as a long distance strike from Bellamy but could not quite create the chance that would evade Adrian. Eikrem very nearly made the dream debut with only five minutes of normal time remaining when the ball broke to him ten yards out. On the half volley his powerful strike once again saw it go straight into the grasp of Adrian.
With City pushing forward they were left exposed at the back and very nearly paid the price. Stuart Downing’s neat bit of trickery saw him get the better of Whittingham and the resultant cross was only inches away from meeting the head of the onrushing Mark Noble just five yards out.
With four minutes being held up by the fourth official City once again had an attacking free kick. A poor delivery saw City recycle it and maintain possession before Kim struck a half volley from distance, once again straight at the West Ham goalkeeper.
Cardiff were committing men forward and once again, before West Ham broke on the counter attack late on. Mark Noble struck the ball hard and low under City stopper Marshall to double the lead and claim all three points.
FULL TIME: CARDIFF CITY 0 – 2 WEST HAM UNITED
Teams - Cardiff City: Marshall; Theophile-Catherine, Hudson (C) (Cornelius 78), Caulker, John; Whittingham, Medel (Eikrem 65), Kim, Noone; Campbell, Odemwingie (Bellamy 45). Subs not used: Lewis; Turner, McNaughton.
West Ham: Adrian, Tomkins, Jarvis, Rat, Collison (Diarra 75), Taylor, Noble (c), Demel (McCartney 17), Downing, C.Cole (Carroll 72), Johnso. Subs not used: Maiga, Diame, Jaaskelainen, J.Cole.
Goals: Cole (42), Noble (90)