GULLS THWARTED BY A SEA OF BLUE
Chance to reach top is wasted
CHRIS Hughton reckons Brighton were not at the races as they blew their chance to go top of the Championship table.
In a rather dull affair at the Cardiff City Stadium, Glenn Murray thought he had given the Seagulls the lead in the 79th minute, but his would-be goal was disallowed after referee Roger East pulled play back for a foul.
The result stretches Brighton’s unbeaten run to 13 games, which has pushed them to within a point of leaders Newcastle.
But a downbeat Hughton said: “There is a bit of disappointment. We played against a resilient Cardiff side who made it difficult for us. We could not break them down.
“I’d say over the 90 minutes, we were the better side and the onus was on us to break down a tough defence.”
Joe Bennett nearly gifted his former club the lead when Sam Baldock dispossessed him in the box, but Brighton’s leading goalscorer Murray failed to connect with his strike partner’s squared pass.
In a quiet first half, Jiri Skalak’s free-kick from 20 yards out hit the wall, but when it came back to him, his powerful effort went just wide of Ben Amos’ goal.
Cardiff started the second half well and could have been in front when Sol Bamba headed wide from just three yards out, following an inviting Joe Ralls cross.
And in the latter stages of the game, when second-placed Brighton applied even more pressure on a firm Cardiff defence, Bluebirds keeper Amos came to the rescue to beat away a ferocious Baldock strike.
Brighton had to play out injury-time with ten men as Gaetan Bong picked up a second yellow card after a cynical trip on Kadeem Harris.
Brighton have not lost for nearly three months and yesterday’s setback – a draw against a struggling bottom-three side – is only a minor one, according to Hughton.
He added: “There are more places than Cardiff where I’ve come away disappointed. They will make it very hard for teams to come here.
“After a game like this there are the disappointments, but the positives are another clean sheet, and a run that’s kept us going.”
Cardiff remain in the relegation zone but the draw moves them up to 22nd in the table – and more importantly a point away from safety.
It was also a first clean sheet in 18 matches for the relegationthreatened Welsh club.
But Bluebirds boss Neil Warnock says he won’t emulate Leicester manager Claudio Ranieri by rewarding his defenders with pizzas for a rare shutout.
He said: “No, because we’ve been owed a few clean sheets.
“The lads are having a night out. But I don’t think [Joe] Bennett would’ve enjoyed his night out if Brighton had scored early on.
“We had to work really hard and there wasn’t anyone who didn’t give everything and we knew we had to because they’re such a good team.
“Brighton rip people apart and we had to be well organised and catch them on the break when we could.
“I thought the players did exactly what we’ve been working on all week.
“The midfield held their ground and young Kadeem did well.”
SEEING RED: Brighton’s Gaetan Bong is sent off HANDS UP: Glenn Murray look dejected after his ‘goal’ is disallowed