Sol Bamba scored a ninetieth minute winner to secure a hard-fought victory over the Seagulls.
The Bluebirds and Seagulls paid their respects pre-match as Cardiff City Stadium honoured the 100th anniversary of Armistice. We will remember them.
Neil Warnock made three changes to the side that faced Leicester City; Joe Ralls returned to the starting lineup in the place of suspended Harry Arter, Greg Cunningham came in for Joe Bennett and Kadeem Harris replaced Bobby Decordova-Reid in attack.
The visitors took an early lead at Cardiff City Stadium, netting after six minutes. Solly March delivered a free-kick towards the back post, where Lewis Dunk was positioned to nod home. His low header from close range left Neil Etheridge with no chance, giving the Seagulls an early advantage.
City recovered from their early setback and began to make inroads into the Brighton half. The Bluebirds grabbed an equaliser after twenty-eight minutes, with their first clear-cut opportunity of their half. Kadeem Harris burst forward from the left-flank, attacking the centre of the pitch before cutting into the right-hand side of the box. The winger’s clipped cross took a deflection off Gaëtan Bong, floating perfectly into the path of Callum Paterson, who stooped to head home his third goal of the season.
There was further drama six minutes later, when Albion were reduced to ten men. Midfielder Dale Stephens was shown a straight red card by referee Martin Atkinson, following a poorly-timed lunge on City’s Cunningham. Chris Hughton duly substituted attacker Solly March for midfielder Yves Bissouma, meaning that, despite dominating possession for the remainder of the half, Warnock’s men were unable to make their numerical advantage count before the half-time break.
The second half began in fairly quiet fashion compared to the first, but was almost lit up by a moment of magic just before the hour mark. The impressive Aron Gunnarsson fed Harris on the edge of the box, and the winger curled a wonderful dipping shot toward goal. His shot agonizingly struck the crossbar, before Josh Murphy fired over from the rebound. After a spell of set-piece pressure, Paterson went close to doubling his personal tally. He made the most of Glenn Murray’s hesitancy on the ball, using his strength to power in and nick the ball towards goal. Mat Ryan pushed away his close-range effort, though the referee had signaled for a foul by the Scot.
With nine minutes remaining, Etheridge was called into his first real piece of action since conceding. Jozé Izquierdo drove at the City defence and fired a shot which moved considerably on its way towards goal. Etheridge did well to pull out his trailing hand, sending the ball over the bar.
The Bluebirds looked to make the most of their extra man in the time remaining, with Víctor Camarasa testing Ryan. The Spaniard volleyed a strong effort from the edge of the area, which was initially dropped by the Australian goalkeeper, although he did well to recover and gather the ball from the advancing Sol Bamba.
As the clock ticked towards ninety minutes, City upped the ante once more, with Camarasa again testing Ryan. On this occasion, the midfielder’s effort from a well-worked corner routine brought a low save from the Albion stopper, forcing another City set-piece. Bruno Ecuele Manga’s blocked effort kept the pressure up with another corner kick, as the home fans sensed a winner was in the offing.
Another short routine led to the ball being launched into the box, with Manga’s header dropping at the feet of Bamba. The Ivorian flipped acrobatically and struck a bicycle kick which crashed against the foot of the post. Junior Hoilett and Paterson raced to meet the rebounding ball, with Paterson’s strike deflecting off Dunk and onto the crossbar. Amongst the ensuing scramble of players from both teams, Bamba kept his cool to storm in, smashing the ball into the roof of the net for his second goal of the season, sparking wild scenes of celebration around Cardiff City Stadium.
Brighton looked to steal an equaliser but the Bluebirds held firm, recording their second Premier League win of the season. Neil Warnock’s men will return to top-flight action after the international break, with a trip to Goodison Park next up, as City face Everton on November 24th.
FINAL SCORE: CARDIFF CITY 2-1 BRIGHTON & HOVE ALBION
Cardiff City: Etheridge, Ecuele Manga, Morrison, Bamba, Cunningham, Gunnarsson, Ralls (Decordova-Reid 76’), Camarasa, Harris, Murphy (Hoilett 72’), Paterson. Subs not used: Smithies, Peltier, Bennett, Damour, Ward.
Brighton & Hove Albion: Ryan, Montoya, Duffy, Dunk, Bong, Kayal, Stephens, Knockaert, March (Bissouma 39’), Izquierdo, Murray (Andone 63’). Subs not used: Steele, Bruno, Balogun, Bernardo, Gyökeres.