SCOUT'S REPORT: BRIGHTON
DOMINANT CITY SUCKERED AT HOME
City slipped to only their second home defeat of the season on Tuesday night against Brighton.
Despite controlling the best part of the game it was the visitors who took the lead two minutes before the break through Andrea Orlandi.
And after controlling the flow of play and peppering the visitors' goal after the interval, striker Jose Ulloa pulled off a copycat feat in stoppage time to secure the points.
Cardiff, playing their second home game in three days, saw Ben Turner return to the line up in place of young Ben Nugent as the only change to Saturday's eleven. Brighton, four points adrift of the play-off places, were looking to end a nine match unbeaten run for City that has included seven wins, the last being a 2-1 victory against Bristol City. The reverse fixture saw Craig Noone still playing in Brighton colours, and ended 0-0 in a tightly fought contest.
Brighton kicked off attacking the Canton End, almost immediately gifting away possession. Craig Bellamy's first touches of the ball won a free kick from twenty yards, and the Welsh international drilled it low. The ball ricocheted and Connolly shielded it well to win a corner, Whittingham unable to beat the first man. Brighton were pressing well, and were showing signs of their trademark on the floor football. Ex-England international Wayne Bridge sent an early searching cross, but Taylor comfortably dealt with it. Bridge then delivered a more testing ball after exchanging passes with Orlandi, but Marshall comfortably collected a tame effort.
Bellamy's famed work rate forced Brighton into a blind clearance that Taylor collected, the left back carrying the ball deep into the box before cutting back to Noone, the winger's low effort collected by Kuszczak. David then found his self with acres of space to run into, but an outstanding tackle from Mark Hudson dispossessed the midfielder. The Brighton crowd, in good voice, initially thought they were one up following a good delivery from Bridge but referee Keith Stroud had already blown for a push on Turner.
Brighton had enjoyed a good spell of possession without threatening, but on nineteen minutes the Cardiff started to threaten themselves. Peter Whittingham received the ball twenty five yards out, sending a curling effort to the near post that Kuszczak had trouble dealing with, and moments later Bellamy drilled a low effort from just inside the area that the ex-Manchester United keeper only partially saved, the ball rebounding up onto the bar. El-Abd was booked on twenty three minutes for throwing the ball away after Bellamy again closed down Kuszczak, forcing the goalkeeper into conceding a throw.
At the other end, Ulloa had a golden opportunity following a headed knock down from a Seagulls free kick, but the new signing's central effort was parried excellently by Marshall. Hudson received a booking for a foul on the edge of the Cardiff area, but Brighton's free kick was wasted by ex-Swansea man Orlandi, who send his effort well wide. Not long after, Brighton handed Bellamy a one-on-one from a poor pass back, but Bellamy's attempt to round Kuszczak was well read by the former Watford man, who parried away. Bellamy had a second bite of the apple on the turn, but his shot was awkward and Kuszczak again saved.
Whittingham picked out Noone from the centre circle and the winger's first touch set Bellamy up for another effort, the striker audaciously attempting a thirty yard volley that dropped just wide of the Brighton goal. Noone then went one better with a visionary chip to Bellamy who delivered low, forcing Kuszczak to concede a corner. Whittingham crossed to the back post but Cardiff were penalised for pushing in the box upon delivery.
The pace of the Cardiff attack again undid Brighton as Noone released Bellamy on the left who took the ball to the by line before cutting back to Noone, but the winger's effort was tame. The rebound fell to Gunnarsson and his deflected effort fell wide amidst shouts of handball.
As the second half drew to a close, Cardiff's hard work was undone. Out of the blue, Dean Hammond played the ball to David on the right wing and his delivery was perfect, Orlandi turning the ball in with his right boot.
GOAL: CARDIFF CITY 0 – 1 BRIGHTON & HOVE ALBION (Orlandi, 44 mins).
Cardiff were not left with much time to respond, and the referee's whistle brought the first halves proceedings to a close after two minutes of stoppage time.
HALF TIME: CARDIFF CITY 0 – 1 BRIGHTON & HOVE ALBION
The second half saw no changes, and the first effort of the match fell to David, his low shot falling comfortably wide of Marshall's post. A Cardiff counter attack spearheaded by Tommy Smith was halted when he was brought down by Seagulls captain Liam Bridcutt, the skipper receiving a booking. Cardiff absorbed pressure well before Whittingham volleyed a lofted through ball over the top to Campbell, the striker's pace leaving the Brighton defence in his wake but the delivery aimed at Bellamy was collected by Kuszczak.
Substitution Cardiff: Craig Conway on for Craig Noone (52 mins)
Craig Conway replaced Noone in a like for like switch, and immediately looked dangerous cutting in twice from the left. Cardiff were enjoying the majority of possession, and Whittingham had a low drive deflected, Gunnarsson's follow up effort flying over the bar. Cardiff were then denied a penalty for a foul on Bellamy that seemed to be in the box, Stroud adjudging the incident to have happened inches outside. The free kick was well defended and a second attempt at delivery by Whittingham was cleared.
On the sixty first minute Conway cut inside from the left and fired a right footed shot from twenty five yards that looked certain to nestle in the top corner but Kuszczak was again equal, tipping the ball onto the bar. A few minutes later, Conway tried for the other corner from a similar position with a lobbed effort, but again the shot bounced off the top of the woodwork.
Substitution Brighton: Gary Dicker on for Andrea Orlandi (70 mins)
A defensive substitution saw the attacking Orlandi replaced by holding player Dicker. Conway was enjoying his time on the left, winning a corner with three around him, and the aftermath of the corner left Kuszczak with a booking for dissent. Brighton were defending in numbers as the match entered the final fifteen minutes but Cardiff were displaying good vision to try to unlock the Seagulls defence, interplay between Smith, Connolly and Whittingham leading to a low cross from Connolly, Cambell firing just over. Gunnarsson's long throw caused chaos in the box, and what could have been Brighton's best attack of the second period was swiftly cut out by Hudson, alert to the counter.
Gunnarsson was next to try his luck, collecting the ball outside the box firing a low drive that Kuszczak saw late, but the goalkeeper had been in inspirational form all night, saving well to his left. With seven mnutes on the clock, Whittingham was felled on the edge of the box, as Mackay brought on Helguson.
Substitution Cardiff: Heidar Helguson on for Fraizer Campbell (84 mins)
Whittingham's free kick hit the wall, and not long after the captain tried his luck, Hudson hitting a rasping drive that again, was deflected. Cardiff were completely dominating possession but an organised Brighton defence were dealing with the pressure as Bellamy summed up Cardiff's evening in front of goal, side-footing an opportunity wide after being picked out by Hudson. Six minutes of injury time were added as the game started to stretch, Brighton picking opportunities to counter as Cardiff piled forward. The game was wrapped up when David capitalised on a misplaced pass, crossing to Ulloa who had the time to pick a shot, his effort deflecting off Buckley and deceiving Marshall.
GOAL: CARDIFF CITY 0 – 2 BRIGHTON & HOVE ALBION (Ulloa, 90 mins + 3)
Substitution Brighton: Forster-Caskey on for Will Buckley (90 mins + 4)
Whittingham had a long range collected by the excellent Kuszczak as the referee blew up, leaving Cardiff with only their second defeat at home this season.
FULL TIME: CARDIFF CITY 0 – 2 BRIGHTON & HOVE ALBION