By Tim Hodges at the Amex.
Brighton & Hove Albion 2 Cardiff City 2
The Albion came from behind twice, to grab a vital point at the Amex. Keeping them unbeaten in the league in 2012 and just outside play- off places on goal difference only.
Ashley Barnes and substitute Sam Vokes where Albion’s scorers, in a match the Seagulls dominated for long periods.
Gai Assulin came in for his first start in Albion colours and helped the home team keep possession for long periods. But it was the marauding Gonzalo Jara Reyes who caught the eye.
The Chilean international picked up a loose ball from a corner and unleashed a shot which fizzed along the ground and fell to Craig Mackail-Smith, who appeared almost surprised to receive the ball. It was an almost identical situation to Mackail-Smith’s goal at Doncaster on Saturday, but sadly for Albion this time the goal-keeper made a great save.
Jara Reyes movement both on and off the ball is top class. It is little wonder Gus Poyet pulled out all the stops to get him back from West Brom, for a second loan stint.
Mackail-Smith went close from a free kick soon after, that skimmed the cross bar.
Albion were gradually getting on top, and as Liam Bridcutt delivered a free kick Jara Reyes cut inside one defender, and hit a powerful shot which hit the post and bounced to safety.
Cardiff’s McNaughton was the Welshman’s best attacking outlet in the first half, he,like Reyes got in good positions to deliver crosses, but these easily dealt with by Peter Brezovan in the Albion goal.
Early in the second half everything changed for the Albion. Cowie lofted a ball into Albion’s’ penalty area, and Mattock tried to tried to over complicate his clearance, Mason then nicked the ball off his foot avoided challenges from Greer and El Abd , and slotted the ball past Brezovan to put the Welshmen in front.
Poyet responded like never before. Almost immediately Mackail – Smith, the rather subdued looking Abdul Razak and fellow his loan Assulin were all replaced by Vokes, Noone, and eternal Amex hero, Will Buckley.
The response was almost instantaneous. Noone ran at the Cardiff defence soon after taking to the pitch and create the chance for Barnes to have a snapshot which Bluebirds keeper Marshall pushed away for a corner.
Whatever Noone was doing on the left, Buckley was doing on the right. As he steamed down the touch line Cardiff defender Turner, brought him down with a crude elbow right in front of the family stand. A yellow card was light punishment.
Cardiff were well and truly on the back foot, as Bridcutt fed Vokes, who tuned free of the defender and hit a good strike from a tight angle , which Marshall did well to hold.
But it was Noone who provided the most effective contribution of Albion’s replacements, clipping in a cross, which Barnes met with a deft, volley with the outside of his boot, to put the Albion level at 1-1.
The Amex crowd nor the Albion players can have had too much time to catch their breath, when Cowie put a corner in the Seagulls six yard box. Not for the first time this season Brezovan’s punch was not quite strong enough, and Whittingham volleyed Cardiff back in front, and the visitors led 2-1.
It was exciting stuff. Navarro played in Barnes but he shot well wide with outside of his boot. Then Barnes had a chance from a corner which somehow Marshall managed to paw over.
As Albion went in search of a second equaliser so captain Greer, and at times Adam El Abd got forward. The latter also did a great job on Liam Lawrence stopping the Cardiff debutant getting a foothold in the match.
But it was Greer, who striding forward picked out Barnes; he in turn side footed the ball into the path of Vokes, who rammed it home for 2-2.
Despite a scare for Albion in injury time, when McNaughton got clear of Reyes and Miller fired over, a draw seemed a fair result.
Vicente a possibility for Saturday.
After the match Gus Poyet told Brighton & Hove news that the now fully fit Vicente Rodriguez could feature from the start against Portsmouth, as he offered something different.
Poyet also conceded the performance of substitutes would give him a further selection headache for the next match.
Albion: Brezovan; Jara Reyes, Greer, El-Abd, Mattock; Bridcutt, Razak, Navarro; Assulin, Mackail-Smith, Barnes. Subs: Calderon, Buckley, Vokes, Noone, Ankergren.
Cardiff: Marshall; McNaughton, Hudson, Turner, Taylor; Whittingham; Cowie, Lawrence, Gunnarson, Mason; Miller. Subs: Kiss, Conway, Blake, Vuckic, Heaton.
Referee: Roger East.