It was a horrible day on and off the pitch for Brighton and their fans, as Cardiff reduced them to their knees. It was always going to be a hard game, but treacherous conditions in the Welsh capital made it a lot harder. Fair play to Cardiff, they handled the conditions the better, and made the most of the few chances they had although they were gifted them from the Albion defence.
On a rainy, cold and blustery afternoon, this game was going to be settled by the team who could adapt to the adverse weather better than the other, and in this case it was the home team. Cardiff had a chance to go up early on when Peter Whittingham had his free-kick well saved by David Stockdale. However, Whittingham got the better of Stockdale the next time, after a wonderful pass from Stuart O’Keefe towards Whittingham, allowed the Cardiff man to control the ball before stabbing the ball into the net through Lewis Dunk’s legs and past Stockdale. Brighton went further behind a few minutes later; Stockdale’s clearance hit Dunk and was gathered by O’Keefe, he played a ball to Lex Immers who crossed the ball to Anthony Pilkington and after cutting inside of Dunk, he struck the ball which dipped under the diving Stockdale to double the home sides lead. Brighton had a half-chance to get one goal back, when Inigo Calderon curled a ball just over David Marshall’s crossbar from 25 yards. However, Cardiff took full advantage of some unlucky defending when Immers pounced on a ball which fell loose after a tackle from Connor Goldson, Immers nipped in before Calderon to score Cardiff’s third. Bobby Zamora, who had been quiet throughout the first half, had a chance before half time to give Brighton some hope in the 2nd half, but his attempt from a Jiri Skalak crossed went wide. Into the 2nd half, and Immers nearly made it 4-0, after Pilkington touched the ball down for him, and after jinking past Goldson, he curled the ball agonisingly wide of the post. Brighton managed to get the goal, which could get them back into the game; Tomer Hemed passed the ball out wide for Skalak, and the Czech’s cross was perfect for Dale Stephens to get his head on it, to guide it past Marshall into the far corner. Brighton nearly got a second soon after; Anthony Knockaert received the ball on the wing before playing the ball into Skalak, who cut the ball back to the penalty spot, but no one was there, but the clearance only went as far as Knockaert on the edge of the box, but his hit his shot over the bar when he needed to keep it low. Cardiff got the next, decisive goal when Goldson fouled Pilkington in the area which allowed Whittingham to step up and score his 2nd of the afternoon.
Stockdale (5); At fault for the second goal, with the clearance, then being beaten too easily by Pilkington, but I’m positive he won’t let a bad game affect his confidence, and will be back making match-saving saves once again.
Bruno (6); The only bright spark in a lacklustre defence; wasn’t afraid to move forward with the ball, and kept his side of the pitch relatively untroubled.
Goldson (5); Some say harsh for the penalty, but it was as clear as you get; slow to react to danger in the first half and might be in a position where he will be the one to sit out for the returning Greer.
Dunk (5); Like Goldson, it wasn’t his best game, but because of all the previously bad games beforehand, everyone is quick to slag him off. He is young and will make mistakes, it’s all in the process of learning and he will gain valuable experience from it.
Calderon (5); Targeted throughout the first half, and rightly removed at half-time.
Knockaert (6); Some-what quiet first half, but exploded into life in the second, with some neat passing and some great runs.
Sidwell (5); Not a great game for the on-loan Stoke man, easily beaten in midfield and struggled to make anything of the ball when given it.
Stephens (7); Well taken goal, and was generally, in my opinion, the best player on the pitch; precise passing on a tricky surface and did what he could to cut out dangerous looking attacks.
Crofts (6); Average first half, much like all the players, but much better in the second with his general all-round play.
Skalak (6); Handed his first Albion start, and was quick to prove how good of a signing he can be once settled in; took on defender and crossed the ball well, only mishap would be his tracking back, which left Calderon vulnerable
Zamora (5); Hard game for the striker, not much to feed on and missed one of the best chances of the game.
Hemed (6); On for Sidwell, look like an immediate threat and set up Skalak for the cross which led to the goal.
Rosenior (6); On for Calderon, and sured up the left side of the pitch. Attacked a lot which gave Cardiff problems, and will be set to start on Tuesday.
Baldock (5); On for Zamora, worked hard chasing the ball but nothing came of it unfortunately.
Cardiff City - Brighton; Whittingham (16), (66pen), Pilkington (19), Immers (30); Stephens (55)
Att; 14,143 (Brighton Att. Not Known)