A Peter Whittingham brace helped the Bluebirds to an impressive 4-1 victory over promotion rivals Brighton & Hove Albion.
A BLISTERING START
The match began with some heated tackles coming in from both teams, with City’s Stuart O’Keefe receiving a yellow early on. A challenge on Tom Lawrence soon afterwards resulted in a Cardiff free-kick on the edge of the box. Peter Whittingham stepped up, and brought a fine save from David Stockdale.
With sixteen minutes on the clock, the Bluebirds found the back of the Brighton net. An inch-perfect pass from the advancing Matthew Connolly found Whittingham inside the area, and he slotted the ball into the bottom left-hand corner with the outside of his foot.
Only minutes after the restart, Anthony Pilkington doubled Cardiff’s lead. The forward beat Inigo Calderon on the edge of the box, before unleashing a superb shot which bounced past Stockdale and into the net. The City fans roared their team on, as a clever run from Pilkington almost brought a third.
The opposition fought their way back into the match, and came close to an equaliser through Calderon. A spectacular David Marshall stop denied the full-back, as he tipped the ball over the crossbar.
On the half hour mark, Lex Immers got Cardiff’s third. An incisive pass from Joe Ralls found Whittingham, whose touch saw the ball fly off Conor Goldson, and into the path of Immers. The loanee slid in to prod the ball home for his second Cardiff strike. Another January acquisition, Tom Lawrence, came close to his first strike in City colours, after his mazy run ended with a powerful shot, which was stopped by Stockdale.
The Bluebirds picked up where they left off after the half-time break, with Immers bending a shot towards goal, which wasn’t too far away from the target.
COMEBACK CANCELLED OUT
Albion breached the Cardiff defence after 55 minutes, with Dale Stephens the scorer. He applied a deft header to Jan Skalak’s cross, which beat David Marshall to give the Seagulls a glimmer of hope. Brighton began to work their way into the match, with plenty of possession in the Cardiff half.
However, the Bluebirds defence held firm, and soon City restored their three goal lead. Some superb passing led to Anthony Pilkington finding space in the box. He knocked the ball past Goldson, before he was impeded by the defender. The referee pointed to the spot, with Whittingham taking the ball under his arm. City's number seven smashed the ball into the top right hand corner via the crossbar, for his second of the game, and his 88nd Cardiff strike overall - overtaking John Toshack's record.
After an impressive showing, Lawrence was replaced for the final few minutes by Kenneth Zohore, who nearly grabbed himself a goal. He latched onto a long pass, fought off Bruno Saltor before drilling his shot wide of the far post. Nevertheless, the final whistle confirmed an important three points for the Bluebirds, who travel to the Riverside on Tuesday to face fellow promotion-chasers Middlesbrough.
FULL TIME:CARDIFF CITY 4-1 BRIGHTON & HOVE ALBION
(Whittingham 16’ & 66’, Pilkington 19’, Immers 30’, Stephens 55’)
Cardiff City: Marshall; Fabio (Peltier 56’), Ecuele Manga, Connolly, Malone; Lawrence (Zohore 84’), O'Keefe, Ralls, Whittingham; Pilkington (Gunnarsson 73’) Immers.
Subs not used: Moore, Oshilaja, Dikgacoi, Saadi.
Brighton & Hove Albion: Stockdale; Bruno, Goldson, Dunk, Calderon (Rosenior 45’); Knockaert, Sidwell (Hemed 45’), Crofts, Stephens, Skalak; Zamora (Baldock 67’).
Subs not used: Maenpaa, Greer, Murphy, Kayal.