Cardiff City 2 Brighton 0 Match Report

Last updated : 23 February 2005 By NigelBlues

The 2-0 score - goals in the opening 20 minutes via a Peter Thorne penalty and James Collins' head - effectively finished the contest before it ever started.

It made the remainder of the game a non-event with The Bluebirds happy to cruise home, The Seagulls had no opportunity to crap on City. This lot were made to look toothless, powerless and clueless. Brighton's football was less attractive than Camilla Parker-Bowles. Had City kept their tempo, I felt Brighton could have been hit for 4 or 5 but they didn't and, this time, who cared?

A win was the sole requirement and it's now 5 out 6 which makes you realise how the same players let themselves, and us, down so badly by winning a measly 4 of their 26 Championship games before this run. City stayed 19th but now enjoy 7 points advantage over relegation placed sides with just 14 games to go. Instead, perhaps we can starting looking up instead. We're within 4 points of the 6 sides above us and a mid-table spot, that seemed ridiculous pre-Christmas. And if play-off teams slip up, we'll catch them too and be in the Premiership next season ... amazing what a few celebratory Brains Darks can do to your mind sometimes!!

Thankfully, City were able to name an unchanged side to that which more than matched West Ham but missed their chances before losing 1-0 at Upton Park in the final minute. The thankful bit came as James Collins produced an Easter miracle one month early.

John Toshack did a lot right for Wales this week but one mistake was dropping Ginge from the seniors to be Under 21 Captain for the night. It looked compounded when Collins was stretchered to hospital with a suspected broken ankle with a 2 month absence feared. Next day came better news that it was severe bruising but a fortnight out still seemed likely until Collins trained on Friday and not only played but scored the vital second goal too. What a guy.

With cruel irony, Robert Page - promoted from Cardiff City reserve to Wales senior captain in midweek - was the man predicted to take Ginge's place but news emerged that he damages knee ligaments and is out for 8 weeks instead. It's a funny ol'game as someone probably once said.

The line-up were Alexander, Weston-Gabbidon-Collins-Barker, Langley-Kavanagh-Inamoto-McAnuff, Lee-Thorne. Subs were Bullock, Ledley, Vidmar, Warner and Williams.

If Brighton were a song, it would be "against all odds". Not just because it is as naff as the way they played but it sums up how they're doing. Victims of an unscrupulous owner, they lost their Goldstone home, their way and almost their existence. Saved by fans but the club remain stuck at the barely acceptable 6,000 capacity Withdean whilst fighting council and government for a new stadium. Despite all these disadvantages, the club have made the Championship courtesy of beating the Wurzels in last season's play-off giving all City fans a good laugh over the West Country folk again.

Most predicted them for an immediate relegation with an average squad that they have inadequate resources to improve but the team and club continue to surpass expectations. By scrapping out results, they came to Ninian Park 1 place but 4 points above City and unbeaten in their last 4 away games with draws at Leeds, Wolves plus QPR and a win at Sheffield United.

Their side today in a 5-3-2 formation were American 6' 5" keeper David Yelldell on loan from Blackburn, a defence of Reid-Butters-Virgo-Hinshelwood-Mayo, midfield with Nicolas-Carpenter-Jones and Knight and McCammon in attack.

Two of the midfielders were ex-City were Chippy Carpenter and local boy Nathan Jones who never made it as a Bluebird so moved away. It could have been an entire midfield of ex-City players but skipper and ex-jailbird Charlie Oatway was serving time again, a suspension on this occasion for a recent red card. The strike force was Little and Large, 5'5" Leon Knight and 6'3" Mark McCammon. Many City fans thought Knight was a possible replacement for Earnie with a similar stature and a lower division track scoring record (27 goals last term) but he hasn't cut it in the Championship with just 4 this season, 3 of them being penalties.

With Wales egg chasing on the telly and the day being cold and chilly, the crowd was just 11,345 with the odd 345 probably being close to the number who travelled from the South Coast. As the teams came out and the game started, a micro-climate hit Ninian Park as a mini monsoon took over with rain lashing down the pitch in powerful winds and many getting a soaking.

It only lasted about 5 minutes but that was a hell of a lot longer than any threats of Brighton winning the game. Nathan Jones, his pretty boy looks getting ruined by the weather, cracked 2 left footed efforts wide - one narrowly wide, the other well wide - for the visitors but once the sun came out, so did City. With clever use of the flanks to pull Brighton about, Inamoto and Kav taking over midfield with some relish, Gabbs and Collins able to leisurely clean up and start City's moves, the opening period seemed to be played entirely in the Brighton half.

Jobi fired over, Inamoto went wide, moves were denied by interceptions but you could sense a goal wasn't far away and it came on 14 minutes. Inamoto won a tackle, broke down the right, hit a cross that Alan Lee met with a stunning edge of area header in which he showed superb reactions to meet a ball and turn it on goal. Yelldell could only watch the ball smack off his crossbar but with Richard Langley about to meet the ball as it came down, Mayo got the wrong side of him and shoved him away. Penalty.

Yelldell filled his goal but PETER THORNE is such a good penalty taker, you wonder why he's never taken them before this season. Calm run up, deliberate trickery to commit the keeper who went one way, Thorney guided the ball the opposite direction and 1-0 thank you very much.

Three minutes later it was 2-0. Rhys Weston surged down the right and was brought down, Kav swung over a beautiful free kick to the far post around the 6 yard box where JAMES COLLINS lost his marker and guided a header downwards that reared up high into the Canton Stand net. It's been a valid complaint that Collins and Gabbidon can get more goals for City, let's hope this starts something.

As a contest, that was pretty much it. Brighton didn't look good enough to score once, never mind twice just to peg us back. It was up to them to fight back and make a game of it but they just weren't good enough on the day for that to happen, credit to City for completely shutting them out however.

You felt City needed a third but it never proved to be necessary. Nearly came though when the impressive McAnuff side stepped a challenge after playing a short corner with Kav, his thumping edge of area rising drive thumped off the underside of Yelldell's bar with the keeper beaten by its power and precision.

That came on the half hour and the rest of the match was totally forgettable without anything much to write about either which at least saves me from rambling on.

Half-time whistle went with the Grange End tongue in cheek taunting Brighton fans and its town's infamous reputation with a chant of "you're bent and you're two-nil down" whilst the tannoy blared out the gay classic "I will survive" although Ali also played Simple Minds' Alive and Kicking to Brighton's fans for what they had achieved.


Brighton brought on two second half subs within 5 minutes of the restart and tried to push forward, playing the final few minutes with three in attack but they really never bothered City in the slightest. Knight produced their only effort on goal and even that gave Neil Alexander a routine low save. Alexander did take a couple of crosses smartly and rush out to smother a couple of through balls but, in all honesty, David Blunkett could have kept a clean sheet for City today and he wouldn't have needed a bell in the ball either.

City played totally within themselves, never needing to push on and Brighton seemed resigned to their fate so the game died with it.

Cardiff had a couple of second half chances but the closest they came was when a Brighton defender misdirected a header from a Langley cross and putting in a fraction wide. Inamoto cracked a couple of efforts wide too, he will feel disappointed that he didn't hit the target and get the third goal that would also have given City a zero goal difference for the season. In half chances, Kav and McAnuff fired wide and over as well.

The laugh of the game came when Inamoto was fouled but the ref didn't give him a free kick. Peeved by that, Inamoto chased back and when Leon Knight got the ball, Ini scythed him to the ground. As he did, Kav came over and did the high fives with Inamoto in front of the ref for his tackle.

Joe Ledley and Lee Bullock had run outs in the closing stages and the game with through the motions until final whistle.

In the final minute, Adam Virgo - plunged into attack - should have been sent off when he appeared to purposely elbow Collins. Booked late in the first half for chopping down McAnuff, you could see no other decision. The ref went to book him but appeared to realise that he had already booked the player and, depending on your view, either showed leniency or just bottled it.

We've remarked about a few poor teams visiting Ninian Park in recent times but I think Brighton were the worst of the bunch only because they didn't seem to have any real quality, ambition or passion about them. I don't think anyone expected City to win as easily as they did.

Perhaps the reason for that is the spine of the team is strong once more. In Gabbs and Collins on present form, we probably have the best centre half duo in the Championship. Kav just shaded Collins for man of the match and his pairing with Inamoto have given City strength, character and has us playing attacking rather than holding football.

There are areas that could be improved. In a solid defence, Rhys Weston continues to look the weak link with his distribution poor again and Richard Langley in front of him is not hitting the standards many of us would like to see. City are well balanced but we do look so much better on the left than right currently. In attack, Lee and Thorne just doesn't grip you as the future partnership for City. Lee must learn to get more direct and keep his feet in particular.

However it's just 1 defeat in 8 for City, 13 points from the last 18 and 5 clean sheets with just 2 goals conceded in the last 7 matches. That's a record to be proud about and happy with.

Report from FootyMad.

Peter Thorne and James Collins were enough to ease the Bluebirds to a crucial victory. Thorne despatched a penalty in the 16th minute and Collins doubled the lead from City's next attack.

The Bluebirds lost their sparkle in the second half, but Brighton, one of the poorest sides seen at Ninian Park this season, rarely troubled the home goal.

The Seagulls flew on to the attack in the first minute and Nathan Jones fired in a crisp daisy-cutter that City keeper Neil Alexander watched whistle past his post.

A mistake by Danny Gabbidon gave Jones another shooting opportunity but once again he pulled his shot wide.

City were awarded a penalty in the 15th minute when Guy Butters pushed Richard Langley in the box after an Alan Lee header had struck the crossbar.

Thorne strode up and comfortably lashed the spot-kick into the back of the net.

Brighton were all at sea and when they failed to clear a Graham Kavanagh free-kick from wide on the right in the 19th minute Collins leapt high to head into the roof of the net and double the lead.

On the half hour a cleverly taken corner by Kavanagh put Jobi McAnuff in space and his viciously struck shot rebounded off the crossbar with Brighton keeper David Yelldell well beaten.

Adam Hinshelwood was forced to head behind for a corner as the Bluebirds went straight on to the attack after the interval.

Brighton boss Mark McGhee made a couple of changes in the 51st minute with Gary Hart and Dan Harding joining the fray in an attempt to liven up what was a poor Brighton performance.

The changes did briefly perk up the visitors but Cardiff were soon back on the attack and McAnuff blazed a shot high and wide from a promising position.

Joe Ledley replaced the tiring Lee and McAnuff was pushed up front to partner Thorne, but with Adam Virgo now playing a forward role the visitors were far more of a threat.

After being booked in the first half VIrgo was luck to stay on the field after a final minute elbow on Collins that left the young City defender lying on the deck.

The victory means that Cardiff are now only a point behind Brighton but still have a game in hand.

External reports
Wales on Sunday
Western Mail