REPORT: BRENTFORD 1-2 CARDIFF
Cardiff City returned to South Wales with all three points from Griffin Park, defeating high flying Brentford, 2-1, despite ending the match with just nine-men on the pitch.
Difficult opening forty-five
It was an open first ten minutes with City looking to keep the ball against a Brentford side who had won their last three games at home, scoring eleven goals in the process. Jonathan Douglas did bundle the ball home for the Bees on nine minutes but the experienced midfielder's effort was ruled out following a foul on Simon Moore. Kiko Macheda tried his luck at goal from an acute angle two minutes later with Button saving well.
The away side were forced into an early change, Lee Peltier replaced by Joe Ralls on eleven minutes after an early knock.
Following on from Macheda's earlier effort, Craig Noone dragged a shot wide of goal on 18 minutes before curling over again five minutes later. These half-chances were arguably the Bluebirds best of a tough first half, the home side controlling possession.
Brentford were rewarded for their confident passing on 28 minutes, capitalising on a rare Simon Moore slip. The goalkeeper only able to push out Alex Pritchard's free kick from distance with Bees top scorer Andre Gray on hand to slot in from close range. The home side pushed hard for a second strike during the remainder of the half but were kept at bay by the City defence.
Determined Bluebirds fightback
Russell Slade's side returned from the half-time break reinvigorated with former Bees loanee Kadeem Harris introduced in place of Matthew Kennedy. Forward Kiko Macheda, looking for his third goal in three, was the first to shoot in the second half but his effort was blocked on 50 minutes. He was rewarded for a lively performance three minutes later with the equaliser.
Former Rotherham man Alex Revell met Craig Noone's cross field ball, attempting to nod it down to his strike partner Macheda. With David Button and Harlee Dean both ahead of him, it looked as if the Italian's chance was gone. Button grabbing the ball one handed, but a loss of balance and slight knock from Dean saw the ball drop straight in front of Macheda who easily slotted the ball home to level the game for Cardiff. Another moment of defensive confusion was to benefit the Bluebirds on 68 minutes.
Macheda looked to feed Revell as the front two combined once more, with Bees keeper Button firstly deciding to come for the ball before changing his mind mid run. Bluebirds striker Revell didn't need asking twice, with a delicate lobbed effort into the far corner of the goal from 25-yards turning the game in favour of the Welsh capital side.
Tough calls and late pressure
While the Bees impressive home form of late all but guaranteed a tough final battle for the Bluebirds, a red card for second half substitute Kadeem Harris made it even more of a herculean task. Harris was shown a straight red card following a fifty-fifty challenge with Alan Judge. Both midfielders sliding into the tackle, with referee A. Davies judging Kadeem's effort worthy of a sending off.
Mark Warburton's final change saw former City man Tommy Smith enter the field of play in place of Jake Bidwell - moving to a three man defence in the hope of pressuring the Cardiff goal. Smith was involved almost immediately, fouled on the edge of the box by Macheda, who had already been shown a yellow card but was given a final warning. Towering forward Kenwyne Jones ensured the ball stayed out of Moore's net with a superb headed clearance.
James Tarkowski had a strong chance to level for Brentford on 88 minutes, but was unable to direct his header on target much to the relief of the 1,500 Bluebirds supporters in attendance. City's lead looked even more tenuous a minute later as Macheda was shown his second card of the afternoon for a rash challenge in the middle of the park. The fourth officials board challenged Cardiff's resilience with six minutes added on for the nine men to battle against.
Despite their decreased numbers, it was City that had the first chance in time added on. Kenwyne Jones with an effort from just outside the area that flew high into the Cardiff City supporters. The hosts gave everything during injury time in an attempt to break down Simon Moore's goal for a second time but a combination of the former Bees stopper and his strong defence meant the advantage remained intact. The last chance of the game fell to Tommy Smith but his volley from the edge of the box flew inches wide of goal. Moore's lofted ball down field from the goal kick was met with a final blow of the whistle, Russell Slade's team securing a memorable third consecutive away win.
FINAL SCORE: BRENTFORD 1-2 CARDIFF CITY (Gray, 28; Macheda, 53, Revell, 68)
Brentford: Button, Bidwell (Smith, 81), Dean, Tarkowski, Odubajo, Douglas, Diagouraga (Judge, 67), Pritchard, Jota, Dallas (Toral, 79), Gray. Subs Not Used: Bonham, Craig, McCormack, Long.
Cardiff City: Moore, Peltier (Ralls, 11), Fabio, Ecuele Manga, Morrison, Whittingham, Gunnarsson, Noone, Kennedy (Harris, 45), Revell (Jones, 75), Macheda. Subs Not Used: Wilson, Malone, O'Keefe, Doyle.