Brighton 1 Cardiff City 1. Match Report

Last updated : 03 November 2004 By Matt Gabb

An 81st minute Lee Bullock headed goal secured a 1-1 draw at Withdean Stadium but dropped City back into the Championship's bottom three. It was scarce reward for The Bluebirds in a game they dominated from first whistle to last.

Brighton are one of the few sides who threaten to keep City in this division. Their promotion to the Championship was a surprise whilst finances are severely restricted with the club forced to play at inadequate Withdean - whilst they continue battling politicians to build a new stadium. Most pundits believe they will do well to stay up, they remained three points above Cardiff but looked a vastly inferior team who will do well to retain that.

City carved the game's first chance inside 5 minutes as Peter Thorne spotted Kuiper, Brighton's Dutch keeper, off his line and just cleared the bar with a speculative chipped effort. On 11 minutes, disaster struck with City conceding against the run of play in The Seagulls first attack.

A hoofed ball, nodded out by Gabbidon but former Bluebird Charlie Oatway reacted first
and sent the ball to the midget Leon Knight whose shot squirmed over the line despite gallant attempts by Warner and Gabbidon to stop it.

That was the half-time score but it was a travesty. City were in full control whilst the home side relied on direct counter-attacking football. The Seagulls survived initially due to a lack of quality and penetration by City in the final third but then extreme bad luck and one bad miss.

Joe Ledley was the leading light. The 17year old making his full debut was the only change from the side that defeated Rotherham at the weekend with Paul Parry injured and grabbed the opportunity in style. His cross near goal landed on the roof of the net on 20 minutes, a half-hour header meeting a free-kick was denied by a great Kuipers save. The resulting corner saw Kuipers punch away but Ledley's returned left footer cleared him and was headed off the line. Right on half-time, a superb Ledley header smashed off the bar.

In the middle of those efforts, Peter Thorne also had a shot cleared off the line whilst Alan Lee, for the second game in succession, wasted the best opportunity of all when clear one-on-one with the keeper. This time, he miscued his shot wide, an awful miss.

City started the second period as the first half had closed. They were on top, taking the game to the home side, playing all the football but failing to score. Ledley, now fading after his sizzling start, shot at Kuipers, Kav had an effort deflected wide and Thorne's effort was saved.

On 65 minutes, the disappointing but hard working Alan Lee was replaced by the lazy and even more disappointing Andy Campbell. On the agonies went well into the final quarter. McAnuff got into good position but also shot straight at Kuipers, Thorne headed across goal, Campbell put wide in front of goal.

Finally, on 81 minutes, City finally got the goal they deserved after Andy Campbell won a corner. From that, Lee Bullock superbly headed home from distance as the ball was delivered to the far side of goal.

Knight caused controversy from the restart and the wee man, the home side's only threat and somehow who would be an asset to City, threw himself to ground when perfectly challenged by Vidmar. Vidmar reacted and joined Gabbidon and Willams as 2nd half bookings.

City remained the superior team and bossed the game to the very end but never quite created an opportunity for a winner.

Their late earned point was scant reward, it was certainly more deserved than Brighton's. It kept City out of the bottom three. Defeat would have seen City back in the bottom three but the point kept them in 20th. Wolves won to go above City and Forest drew to stay above us. Crewe, Rotherham and Gillingham all lost.

Cardiff's need for a goalscorer gets ever more urgent. The club have to reflect how they dominated, create so many chances but only scored once and that was a late equaliser. The performance was good but the result and league placing remain disappointing.

Report from FootyMad

An inspired substitution by Brighton-born boss Lennie Lawrence against his hometown club earned Cardiff a well deserved away point.

Lawrence brought on Lee Bullock in place of Joe Ledley in the 75th minute of a match dominated by the Welsh visitors.

Bullock had only been on the pitch for six minutes when he met Gary O'Neil's corner with a header which looped over Brighton keeper Michels Kuipers.

It was the least Cardiff deserved after falling behind in the 10th minute to Leon Knight's first goal from open play for Brighton since April.

Knight, fed inside the Cardiff area by Dean Hammond, scored with an angled left-foot drive which keeper Tony Warner got a hand to but could not prevent from crossing the line.

It was one-way traffic towards the Brighton goal after that as Cardiff pursued the victory they required to move above their hosts in the table.

Teenager Ledley, making his full league debut, will wonder how he did not celebrate his big night with a goal.

The midfielder could have scored a hat-trick in the closing stages of the first half. His back header from a free-kick from O'Neil forced Kuipers into a full length save at the expense of a corner.

When the corner was cleared to Ledley just outside the box, his shot was knocked off the line by Dan Harding.

The England Under-21 left-back came to Brighton's rescue again a minute later, clearing O'Neil's shot from the line after Kuipers had smothered at the feet of Jobi McAnuff.

Ledley could not believe his bad luck in first-half injury-time when he headed across from McAnuff against the bar.

Matt Gabb's match report:

Lee Bullock salvaged a point for the Bluebirds in a game which the away side should have won comfortably.

It was City’s fourth visit to the Withdean Stadium and not the most eagerly anticipated of matches. The awful view, facilities and the probability of a soaking, combined with the poor start we’ve had meant that only around 300 Bluebirds fans made the trip to the south coast to see the boys in action last night.

The ground is a mess – a small covered stand to the right of the away end, a bigger uncovered stand to the left which is built up from scaffolding, and then small “temporary” stands behind the goal which is where the away fans were sat. The athletics track around the pitch along with advertising etc., means that the view even of the near goal is dreadful. The poor bloke behind me left his glasses on the bus and had a running commentary of what was going on from his mate.

The capacity is around 6,500, but even that isn’t being filled these days. I spoke to a Brighton fan in the pub before the game who said the tickets aren’t selling out as they used to, and that everyone down there is very fed up with playing there. This was reflected in a flat atmosphere, and frequently the game was played in complete silence. It’s like watching a reserve game or pre-season friendly at times.

City’s team showed one change from the side that beat Rotherham on Saturday, with Joe Ledley deservedly given his chance on the left hand side of midfield.

Warner; Williams-Gabbidon-Vidmar-Barker; McAnuff-Kavanagh-O’Neil-Ledley; Thorne-Lee.

The game started slowly, with neither side being able to string more than a couple of passes together, and it was a surprise when LEON KNIGHT was played in and managed to squeeze the ball past Warner and then Gabbidon into the goal to give the home side the lead. The goal was down the other end of the ground, so it was very difficult to work out what had happened, but clearly the ball had crossed the line, despite Warner getting a hand to it.

City got straight back into the game and really should have got back into the game before half time, spurning a number of chances. Ledley could have had a hat-trick. A near post header turned away by the goalkeeper, a shot which was cleared off the line, and finally another firm header which rebounded off the crossbar. Desperately unlucky.

Alan Lee had the best chance of the half after being put through one on one with the goalkeeper but he placed his shot wide, and looks as low on confidence at the moment as Andy Campbell. We really do need to strengthen up front, at the moment Thorne looks like the only forward player who might score a goal, and he also managed to have a shot cleared off line after a swift McAnuff break forward through the middle.

Very frustrating stuff as the game moved on to the interval, as we went in a goal down despite being the better side for the majority of the first half. It reminded many fans of past games against Brighton at their ground, where we just couldn’t get the break and get a goal. The game wasn’t great though, lots of passes going astray with O’Neil seeming to be the only City player who could get the ball down and drive the midfield on.

Half time. Brighton 1 – 0 Cardiff City.

The second half continued much in the same vein as the first with City getting forward more than the Seagulls. The quality wasn’t as good though, with O’Neil seemingly letting the game pass him by and debutant Ledley tiring on the left. We were mainly restricted to shots from distance and it looked like the equaliser wouldn’t come. Brighton’s attacking efforts consisted of hoofs up the field for Knight and Virgo to chase.

Lawrence looked to change things around, with the tiring and out of sorts Lee going off for Campbell, and Ledley being replaced by Lee Bullock.

The equaliser game on the 81 minute mark, when one of O’Neils many excellent corners was met by LEE BULLOCK who looped a header over the top of Kuipers in the Brighton goal. It seemed to go over the keeper’s head and it was in the net! Mad celebrations on the away end, and relief all round that we had recovered something from the game. Lee Bullock always seems to pop up with a goal, a really useful player to have around with his ability to get into the box from midfield.

The game looked to be there to be won, but I think the players had already settled for a draw. Some excitement towards the end as Leon Knight dived in the box, trying to con the referee into giving a penalty. This sparked off a pushing and shoving match, with both sides having players booked. But inexplicably no booking for Knight. It really was disgraceful stuff and enraged the City fans who (for the first time all night) had a perfect view of the incident and berated the ex-Chelsea man with cries of “CHEAT CHEAT CHEAT”.

So a point, which sees City slip back in to the bottom three as Wolves won at home to Derby. We do still need to add to the squad; we are short of a striker, and will need some more experience in midfield after Robinson’s departure.

City move on now to an away match at Millwall on Saturday. The Lions have won their last three home games and will prove difficult opposition. Then after a Carling Cup match at Bournemouth next Tuesday, it’s back to league action with a double header at Ninian Park against Leicester and West Ham.