Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Match Report: Cardiff 1 Brighton 3

Albion produced a stellar away-day performance to crush Cardiff City - who boasted a 100 per cent record in league and cup going into the game - and register the club's first win in the Welsh principality since 1984.
After an excellent 1-0 win at Portsmouth on Saturday, Albion stepped up a gear in Wales, with arguably their best performance of the Poyet era. Two goals from Ashley Barnes - either side of half-time - and another from debutant Will Hoskins put Albion in total command, before a late consolation penalty from Peter Whittingham.The Seagulls started in the same confident style that saw them triumph at Portsmouth on Saturday - with the midfield four of Liam Bridcutt, Gary Dicker, Romain Vincelot and Matt Sparrow showing great composure from the off and no fear of passing the ball against one of the top Championship sides in recent seasons.Vincelot and Barnes both saw marginal offside decisions go against them. Vincelot's effort drew a superb save from David Marshall, while Barnes thought he had sprung the home side's trap as he lashed a stunning volleyed effort into the net.Cardiff turned up the heat after the half-hour mark as the lively Robert Earnshaw, Kenny Miller and Craig Conway all tested Casper Ankergren in quick succession. Earnshaw and Miller tried their luck from distance, but it was the former Dundee United man Conway who went closest.Having popped up in space inside Albion's area, he was denied by the big Dane spreading himself and making a superb save. It was a vital stop from Albion's keeper to keep the scores level, as the Bluebirds threatened to take control.

However, Albion took the lead a few minutes later after a terrible error by home right-back Kevin McNaughton; his loose cross-field pass was intercepted by Barnes, who unleashed a ferocious drive which nestled in the bottom left corner of the net, leaving Marshall with no chance.

It was the perfect tonic for Albion, scoring just before half-time and they nearly doubled their lead early in the second half thanks to a great piece of opportunism from Craig Mackail-Smith. The hardworking Albion striker robbed Anthony Gerrard just inside his own half, played a clever one-two with Barnes, before charging into the box and firing a shot against Marshall's right-hand post.

Mackail-Smith's industry gave Barnes the chance for his second second. The former Peterborough man showed great energy to make up ground on Mark Hudson and nick the ball off the Cardiff man. He then turned to cut inside the home defender, and after Hudson clipped the Albion striker's heels Referee Keith Stroud had no hesitation in pointing to the spot. Barnes stepped up to send Marshall the wrong way for 2-0.

Cardiff boss Malky Mackay immediately brought on French striker Rudy Gestede in place of Earnshaw, who for all his running, had caused Albion few real problems. Gus Poyet sent on Alan Navarro and Hoskins in place of Sparrow and Vincelot. Hoskins wasted little time in opening his Albion account, latching onto Mackail-Smith's pass and slotting cleverly past Marshall.

Cardiff grabbed a consolation in the 90th minute, after referee Stroud awarded a second penalty, for what looked a soft decision against captain fantastic Gordon Greer. He was adjudged to have pushed his fellow Scot Miller. Whittingham stepped up to score, but that did little to take the gloss off a stunning display in South Wales.

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