Johann Berg Gudmundsson's 88th minute long range strike meant City were forced to settle for a point against 10-men Charlton Athletic at the Valley on Boxing Day.
Tom Adeyemi opened the scoring after 12 minutes, Aron Gunnarsson's long throw into the penalty area nodded on by Ben Turner with Adeyemi rising highest to head home his first Cardiff City goal.
Charlton's Boxing Day looked to have taken a further nose dive on 33 minutes when Callum Harriott was sent from the field of play for a dangerous challenge on Craig Noone but a valiant second half display from the Addicks saw them claim a late share of the spoils thanks to Gudmundsson's effort.
Russell Slade named four changes to the Cardiff City side, with Declan John making his first start of the campaign at left back while Sean Morrison, Tom Adeyemi and Kenwyne Jones were also included in the starting eleven. Kadeem Harris, Bruno Ecuele Manga, Kiko Macheda and Fabio each taking up spots on the substitutes bench.
It was defender Morrison who went close with just six minutes on the clock, meeting Peter Whittingham's lofted free kick with Addicks keeper Neil Etheridge gathering the ball well under pressure.
City showed aerial dominance throughout the first half and this paid dividends after 12 minutes as Cardiff took the lead in the English Capital. Aron Gunnarsson's specialist long throw nodded towards goal by towering defender Ben Turner with Tom Adeyemi reacting quickest to head the ball past Etheridge.
GOAL!!! CHARLTON ATHLETIC 0-1 CARDIFF CITY (Tom Adeyemi, 12 mins)
Gunnarsson and Adeyemi were at it again just a minute later, this time Kenwyne Jones nodding the ball on for Adeyemi but he could only direct the ball wide with a right footed shot.
The impressive start from Cardiff continued throughout with Le Fondre finding Kenwyne Jones with a delightful through ball on 17 minutes, Jones looked destined to score a second goal for the Bluebirds only for the assistant referee to flag late for offside.
The hosts struggled against City's diamond midfield in the first period, and their task of finding a way back into the half got even more difficult on 33 minutes as Callum Harriott was sent from the field of play. Harriott with a dangerous challenge on wide midfielder Craig Noone, with referee Mick Russell showing no hesitation in sending Harriott off.
RED CARD: Callum Harriott (Charlton Athletic, 33 minutes)
With 38 minutes on the clock, Romanian forward George Tucudean's attempt was pushed wide by David Marshall at close range. Charlton's only real chance of the first period, with Cardiff deservedly leading at the break.
HALF TIME: CHARLTON ATHLETIC 0-1 CARDIFF CITY
Cardiff came out for the second half trying to score an early second goal and finish the match off, Aron Gunnarsson's low shot saved by Etheridge on 52 minutes. The hosts showed incredible strength in attempting to fight back with 10 men, Johann Berg Gudmundsson's shot well saved by Marshall just a minute later.
The Addicks went even closer on 54 minutes, George Tucudean's back heeled effort from Gudmundsson's corner deflecting wide of goal off the base of the goal post.
Double Substitution Charlton Athletic: Jackson and Gomez replaced by Vetokele and Onyewu (59 mins)
Gudmundsson showed how dangerous he could be to the Cardiff defence as Charlton's momentum continued with twenty-five minutes remaining, striking the outside of the goalpost with a 30-yard free kick.
Substitution Cardiff City: Le Fondre replaced by Harris (69 mins)
Bob Peeters' team cannot be accused of a lack of heart, fighting hard to level the match despite being a man down in the second period. Gudmundsson continued his impressive performance, forcing Marshall into two further saves after 71 and 76 minutes.
An end-to-end second half, Tom Adeyemi almost secured victory for Cardiff with a second goal on 86 minutes. Ben Turner with a superb ball from the back to Adeyemi, who managed to find his way past Chris Solly but his shot was well saved by Etheridge. This chance was to prove even more important just moments later.
The hosts finally found a way past David Marshall with just two minutes remaining. Gudmundsson picking his spot from 25-yards, and unleashing a superb strike to equalise for Bob Peeters team. Undoubtedly a disappointment to the travelling Cardiff support, but arguably a deserved levelling goal with Charlton in the ascendency in the second half.
GOAL!!! CHARLTON ATHLETIC 1-1 CARDIFF CITY (Johann Berg Gudmundsson, 88 mins)
Substitution Cardiff City: Adeyemi replaced by Ralls (88 mins)
Following this second goal, neither side seemed happy to settle for a point. Harris put in a mature performance since coming on, but his effort from Gunnarsson's pass drifted just wide of goal. Addicks top scorer Igor Vetokele probably should have won it with the last kick of the match, running through with only David Marshall to beat but he managed to blaze the effort well over much to the relief of the Cardiff defence.
FULL TIME: CHARLTON ATHLETIC 1-1 CARDIFF CITY
Charlton Athletic: Etheridge, Solly, Gomez (Onyewu, 59), Ben Haim, Bikey-Amougou, Gudmundsson, Buyens, Jackson (Vetokele, 59), Cousins; Harriott, Tucudean. Subs Not Used: Pope, Wilson, Bulot, Ahearne-Grant, Fox.
Cardiff City: Marshall, Brayford, Turner, Morrison, John, Gunnarsson, Whittingham, Adeyemi (Ralls, 88), Noone, Le Fondre (Harris, 69), Jones. Subs Not Used: Moore, Fabio, Connolly, Manga, Macheda.