Brighton returned to the top of the table, with a hard fought win over Cardiff, to also extend their cushion back to the play-offs to 11 points. It was by no means an easy ride for The Seagulls, with the visiting Bluebirds trying every time-wasting ‘technique’ in the book, from slow goal-kicks to changing throwers at the last second. In the end, karma had its say and Brighton walked away with the 3 points.
The game started of in less than lively fashion, although Tomer Hemed had a good chance early on, but dragged his shot wide of Allan McGregor’s goal. The flow of the game was always being interrupted with Cardiff slowing everything down, disturbing Brighton’s rhythm. Brighton’s inability to make simple passes allowed Cardiff to have some glorious chances midway through the half; first Joe Ralls hit the side netting from a Junior Hoilett cutback. Sean Morrison had a header well saved by David Stockdale after a Ralls free-kick. Hoilett had an effort well saved too, after the ball pinged to him from a deflection. Inbetween the Cardiff chances, Anthony Knockaert went close with a free-kick, which just went wide of the post. Solly March had a pile-driving shot saved by McGregor in a half of little chances for the Albion. Into the second half, and Brighton could of taken the lead just minutes into the half, when March’s cut back from the byline was met by Hemed, but he dragged his shot wide, with Knockaert lurking behind him had he missed the chance. Shane Duffy came close to scoring his first home goal for the club, but his flicked header went just wide. With the game faultering, Chris Hughton brought on Ollie Norwood, who made an immediate impact; his pass into Hemed allowed the Israeli to take the ball on the turn, before unleashing a sweet strike past McGregor from just inside the edge of the box. Knockaert could have made it two not soon after, but his effort was just over the bar after a mazy run through the Cardiff defence. Final whistle went, and Brighton returned to the top of the Championship, and are in firm control of their promotion destiny; it would take a real ‘balls up’ from here to stop them from being promoted this season.
Stockdale (7); Made some key saves, especially in the first half, but not much rot do in the second.
Goldson (7); Much braver at getting forward this time, and supported Knockaert very well. Maybe gave Hoilett a little bit too much respect when he attacked him.
Duffy (7); Marshalled Zohore very well, gave away a couple of free-kicks but won the majority of headers all over the pitch.
Dunk (6); Simple night for the stand-in captain, helped Duffy win the long balls from Cardiff, and was as strong as every defensively.
Pocognoli (6); Got forward a lot, but not as much from him as Friday night. Rarely troubled defensively.
Knockaert (7); Gave Cardiff nightmares all night with his agility on and off the ball, should of had a goal for his efforts.
Stephens (6); Pretty easy night for the central midfielders, with Cardiff backing of to the edge of their box, it was just a matter of picking the right pass.
Kayal (6); Pretty easy night for the central midfielders, with Cardiff backing of to the edge of their box, it was just a matter of picking the right pass.
Murphy (6); Missed a great chance in the opening minutes, but had a fairly decent night otherwise.
March (6); Created some nice chances, as well as his first half shot, which had McGregor flapping at it.
Hemed (7); Fantastic goal which sealed the win; had to work hard up top on his own, but was up to the task.
Norwood (6); Immediate impact with the assist, and was firm but calm when Cardiff pushed for an equaliser.
Sidwell (5); Replaced March, and slotted into the ’10’ role well.
Skalak (N/A); Last minute run out, to run down the clock.
BHAFC - CCFC ; Hemed (73);