Jubilant Bamba loses his shirt on day Warnock’s luck turned
Neil Warnock’s wife, Sharon, had told him this week his luck was about to change. As it turned out, fortune would shine particularly brightly on the manager’s favourite son: Sol Bamba.
This blood-and-thunder centreback, who calls Warnock his second father, won this pulsating clash in the dying seconds despite being offside moments earlier. The unlikely matchwinner then did the double over referee Martin Atkinson by escaping a booking, having ripped his top off amid scenes of jubilation. “The referee asked me if I took my shirt off and I said no,” he grinned afterwards.
Brighton manager Chris Hughton found the scenes less amusing. “The hardest thing to take is you are reliant on good decisions by officials and the last goal was shown to be offside,” he said.
Brighton were left defending for their lives after Dale Stephens was sent off after half an hour for a studs-up challenge on Greg Cunningham. Car- diff ’s makeshift striker, Callum Paterson, had earlier cancelled out Lewis Dunk’s sixth-minute effort.
“My wife doesn’t read tea leaves but she told me my luck would change last Thursday so I will have to get her a drink,” Warnock said afterwards.
“We are everybody’s favourites to go down, and we need three or four players in January, but we have come a long way in 18 months.”
Warnock’s only concern will be a broken nose for Sean Morrison, who looked dazed as he was substituted 10 minutes after a clash of heads.
For much of this game, Cardiff found themselves in the unfamiliar position of dominating. But it is the third time this season they have toiled against opposition reduced to 10 men and, after Newcastle and Huddersfield held out for 0-0 draws, the relief in securing a second home win was palpable.
The sending-off changed the game. Dunk, who may be about to win Bright- on’s first England international cap in 36 years, headed the opener in similar style to his strike against Everton a week ago, which also came from a neat delivery from Solly March.
Paterson levelled for the home side from close range after Kadeem Harris’s jinking run and cut-back was deflected by Gaetan Bong into his path.
The winner came after a frantic goalmouth scramble. Bamba attempted an overhead kick which hit a post. It was followed up by Paterson, whose effort hit the bar and then Bamba smashed home the rebound.
Despite their luck, Cardiff deserved this morale-boosting victory. Warnock said: “I didn’t even realise it was my 100th game until yesterday. Then it will be about my 70th birthday. But I don’t feel it and I feel really proud to be manager of this group.”
Treasure chest: Sol Bamba after his winner