A review of a cold Tuesday night at the Amex as I watched the Bluebirds take on high flyers Brighton
On the back of an impressive three wins on the bounce, when the rearranged fixture was announced I was quick to jump on the opportunity in going to my second away game of the season.
It’s been well-documented our support has been by no means the strongest in recent years, and for a rearranged 400-mile round trip on a Tuesday night in January, Cardiff fans would be forgiven for sitting this one out for Sky Sports News. Though with assistance from SkyBet, a strong 489 turned out in fantastic voice at a stadium which must be said rivals some of the Championships best.
Brighton have settled into their 30,750-seater stadium after a turbulent 15 years – since the Goldstone Ground was sold off – which included numerous ground shares and near exit from the football league. The magnificent ground coupled with a side playing some attractive stuff at the summit of the table, looks ready to welcome the Premier Leagues best.
With current commitments meaning my away attendance has lapsed recently, I was revelling the pilgrimage South for a clash with two of the top three form teams in the Championship coming into the game. The first 45 proved otherwise, with Brighton camped in the Bluebirds half and winger Jamie Murphy coming close after 4-minutes, it looked to be a long evening.
This didn’t deter the away support and Cardiff did come close on occasion, most notably through Kenneth Zohore who broke through one-on-one only to fire it straight at David Stockdale. Many a time we would emerge on the halfway line and squander possession through a lack of options, bringing frustration to Joe Ralls as he was unable to pick a pass.
It’s understandable Warnock would field a defensive side against a team with the likes of in-form Knockaert and Tomer Hemed, who Cardiff managed to keep quiet with superb defensive displays from Sol Bamba and MOTM Sean Morrison. But the lack of an outlet to threaten the home side meant an onslaught that finally broke the deadlock on the 73rd minute, through a Hemed strike that new goalkeeper McGregor could have done better.
Warnocks hand was forced and Healy and Noone were introduced for Halford and an underperforming Hoilett. Cardiff’s best spell of the game then followed in between Brighton attacks where McGregor pulled off a fantastic save at point-blank range to keep a distant hope for Cardiff.
Numerous half chances ensued with Rhys Healy impressing following last week’s winner. Much of the ball flowed down the left with Kadeem Harris, but throughout the game delivery was lacklustre, a sign from a player lacking confidence and not utilizing the pace he possesses.
The final chance of the game saw a Craig Noone blocked shot that signalled the first loss in four for Warnock’s men. A one goal loss to probable automatic promotion contenders is no mean feat. Coupled with the lack of creativity against Burton and echoed in this game, a return for Peter Whittingham must be on Warnock’s mind.
A worthwhile trip with positives to be taken in the form of a defensive resilience that is really taking shape. But additions are desperately needed if Cardiff are to fulfil an ambitious top 8 finish.