Lambert strugglers are on the right Trac
DON’T put your shirt on Cardiff City staying in the Premier League – unless belongs to Sol Bamba.
If he could pull this one out of the bag
dodge a yellow card, then anything is possible.
The Bluebirds defender whipped off his top seconds after he had unzipped Brighton – but managed to avoid a booking when he told a porkie so big that it would keep Melton Mowbray pie-fillers in work for years.
Bamba revealed referee Martin Atkinson had asked him if he had removed his shirt and he denied it – a strange miss by the official given how referees are normally so quick to brandish yellow cards, even if the motive is a respectful message to a deceased owner.
Yet a week after Leicester’s Demarai Gray was booked at the same ground – for revealing a tribute on his shirt to Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha – Bamba escaped, a reprieve as surprising as the result.
The victory appeared highly unlikely until the Ivory Coast defender smashed the ball into the roof of the net as the clock ticked into added time.
Bamba has often said his manager Neil Warnock is like an old-school father figure, so it was fitting the Cardiff boss admitted Bamba’s mistake when Brighton took the lead made him an angry dad.
“In the old days, I’d have taken the cane out!” said Warnock. “But you’re not allowed to do that now.
“We worked on it every day this week – defending from free-kicks – and then how long did it take? Six minutes.
“But I’m so pleased for him. He’s come here on a free transfer and from day one, he and Junior Hoilett have been super for me.
“I’m delighted for him, it’s no more than he deserves. He’s so wholehearted.”
Bamba’s winner meant Cardiff claimed only their second victory of the season – and it was the first time they had come from behind since winning at Brentford back in March.
Brighton’s opener for Lewis Dunk was soft but they conceded an equaliser to Callum Paterson and then lost Dale Stephens to a reckless red card 11 minutes before half-time.
Cardiff’s laboured approach play – with the exception of Kadeem Harris – looked as if it would mean a third successive draw in matches against opponents reduced to 10 men.
But then Bamba waved a big flipper of a right foot after the ball had pinballed around the box.
Warnock said: “Harris has been our best player in training for the last six weeks.
“I didn’t think I’d ever play him if I’m honest at the start of the season but I’ve changed my mind
“He has just been an absolute breath of fresh air for us.”
The air was a bit staler for Brighton boss Chris Hughton, whose team gave up points from a winning position for the first time this season.
He had few gripes over Stephens’ sending-off – some you win, some you lose – but was angry that Bamba’s goal was not ruled out for offside.
“I understand they’ve got decisions to make but what you want them to do is make the big decisions correctly,” said Hughton.
“I understand the sending-off, some would give it, some wouldn’t. But on the winning goal he is offside and for me that’s not a difficult decision.
“We have a linesman in a very good position when the ball comes back in so I am more angry with the second decision than the first one.”
Cardiff have moved out of the relegation zone before this season, only to fall right back into it. But Warnock’s side have now taken six points from four games and the blue tide may be turning. PAUL LAMBERT believes Ipswich are going in the right direction, despite letting the lead slip at Reading.
The Scot was taking charge of the Tractor Boys for only the second time and was six minutes away from his first win.
And despite his side remaining bottom of the Championship table, Lambert felt the first-half performance showed promise.
“It was frustrating because the first half was as good as I’ve seen. We were fantastic and we should have been three or four goals up,” he said.
“It never materialised but I’m proud of the way they have performed, they’ve given me everything in the time I’ve been here.
“We were comfortable and then we lose a poor goal. We were sloppy.”
The game got off to a pulsating start with three goals in the first 10 minutes. Ipswich went ahead after five minutes when Gwion Edwards blasted home from the edge of the area.
Reading hit back two minutes later when Yakou Meite volleyed home a Sam Baldock cross from close range. But the visitors restored their lead in the 10th minute when Freddie Sears was quick to react to a mix-up in the Reading defence.
The home side offered little in the first half but Mo Barrow forced Bartosz Bialkowski into a stunning point-blank save in the 53rd minute.
And the Royals levelled six minutes from time when Meite headed in a Leandro Bacuna cross.
Reading boss Paul Clement said: “I think the point was fair. The first half we were really bad.
“Ipswich were fighting, running, their spirit was great and we were like rabbits in headlights.
“In the second half the players reacted well to what I said and played with the right spirit.”
■HEART AND SOL: Bamba is ecstatic after hitting winner Readers Offer - just £17.00!