A promising performance from the Bluebirds ended with a late sucker-punch as Charlton dispatched a penalty to win 2-1 at Cardiff City Stadium.
A beautiful afternoon at Cardiff City Stadium kicked off with the Bluebirds displaying much endeavor, dominating the early exchanges; Craig Noone’s pacey attempt from the edge of the area stopped by Charlton goalkeeper Stephen Henderson.
Whittingham delivered an inviting free-kick that Sean Morrison was inches from meeting as City kept the pressure on high. Conor McAleny then had a driven effort blocked with Charlton’s first real foray into the City half – a driving Gudmundsson run - thwarted by Lee Peltier.
The only blemish in the opening half-hour was Aron Gunnarsson’s removal due to injury. Joe Ralls – exceptional in the midweek fixture against Rotherham – took to the field in replacement.
A high pressing game was proving fruitful as City’s two front men continually harried Charlton’s back line, forcing the visitors to play the long ball. With Morrison and Manga defending stoically, the Addicks were unable to get anywhere near Moore’s goal, though similarly Cardiff had not produced much in the way of goal-bound attempts.
An inch-perfect through ball by Peter Whittingham found Peltier but his cross was cut out as City continued to assert their dominance in possession. Cardiff finished the half with McAleny pulling the trigger from twenty yards but Henderson was equal, diving low and palming away.
DESERVED BLUEBIRDS LEAD
After taking a knock in the first half, Charlton goalkeeper Henderson was replaced by Marko Dmitrovic. Mirroring the first forty-five, McAleny’s driving run epitomised Cardiff’s superiority and it wasn’t long before the Bluebirds made their possession count.
Craig Noone cut in from the right flank and offloaded to Lee Peltier, who in turn found Joe Ralls. The midfielder then spotted Noone’s burst into the box and picked out his teammate with a perfectly weighted through ball. The City winger floating a dangerous cross across the face of goal that Kenwyne Jones knocked down for Federico Macheda to finish an exquisite team move.
Athletic made their second substitution of the afternoon with Chris Eagles coming on for Christophe Lepoint and the lively ex-Manchester United wide man instantly threatened with a low drive that Moore met with both hands.
Conor McAleny left the field to be replaced by Matthew Kennedy and the youngster didn’t take long to make an impact, his low cross from the right met by Macheda; this time the Italian’s headed effort was met by Dmitrovic.
As the game ended the final stages, Charlton found their feet with a succession of shots that were blocked by the home side. Guy Luzon made his final substitution - Simon Church entering for Frederic Bulot - as the away side won a corner. Moments later, City were dealt a sucker punch as the ball bounced around the area before Tony Watt placed home to equalise.
With affairs even the match took a more competitive tone, Cardiff’s response a well-worked passing move that led to Joe Ralls’ drive, flying just over the crossbar. Alex Revell replaced goal-scorer Federico Macheda with the home side pushing for a second - though Charlton were looking increasingly dangerous.
With five minutes to play Charlton were awarded a penalty, Sean Morrison adjudged to have fouled Simon Church. Yoni Buyens dispatched from twelve yards to hand the lead to the Addicks. Cardiff continued to press with high energy late on in an attempt to salvage a point but Charlton held firm to earn a third consecutive win.
FINAL SCORE: CARDIFF CITY 1-2 CHARLTON ATHLETIC (Macheda, 56) (Watt, 74; Buyens, 87)
Cardiff City: Moore, Peltier, Ecuele Manga, Morrison, Connolly, Gunnarsson (Ralls), Whittingham, Noone, McAleny (Kennedy), Jones, Macheda (Revell). Subs Not Used: Wilson, Fabio, Doyle, O’Keefe.
Charlton Athletic: Henderson (Dmitrovic), Gomez, Berg Gudmundsson, Bulot (Church), Buyens, Solly, Fox, Johnson, Cousins, Watt, Lepoint (Eagles). Subs Not Used: Bikey, Diarra, Vetokele, Lennon.