Date: 20th February 2013 at 6:32pm
Written by:

Albion displayed their clinical side as they pulled off a potentially season defining result, overcoming league-leaders Cardiff on their own patch.

Having weathered an early storm, Andrea Orlandi opened the scoring just before half-time to hand the Seagulls an unlikely lead. Further backs-to-the-wall defending followed after the break, including some inspired saves from Tomasz Kuszczak – before Leonardo Ulloa wrapped up the win with a late second.

During a frantic start, Wayne Bridge created the first half-chance, finding space down the left before crossing for Leo Ulloa, but the Argentine couldn’t find the right connection to turn it towards goal. The hosts then came closer, as Kuszczak was forced into action, parrying away a 25-yard curled effort from Peter Whittingham.

As Cardiff continued to crank up the pressure, Craig Bellamy then struck the bar as his shot from wide squirmed under Kuszczak, bouncing onto the ground and onto the woodwork. During a brief respite, Matt Upson did well to chest a free-kick into the bath of Ulloa, but the striker’s half-volley was smartly beaten away by David Marshall.

Up the other end, Albion once again had Kuszczak to thank for keeping them level, as the Polish stopper reacted superbly to deny Bellamy after the Welshman had latched onto the end of a weak back-pass from Dean Hammond. After pin-balling around the box, the ball again fell to Bellamy but his snap-shot was also kept out by the unbeatable Pole.

Adam El-Abd and Liam Bridcutt teamed up to deny Aaron Gunnarsson from close range, whilst Craig Noone, quiet against his former employees, could only manage a tame effort for the Bluebirds. Albion were playing very much on the counter, in typical away-from-home fashion, and you always sensed they might punish the hosts’ profligacy.

Indeed, somewhat against the run of play and near-enough on the stroke of half-time, David Lopez expertly picked out Orlandi from the right wing, with the ex-Swansea man arriving late to cleverly despatch a flicked finish into the far corner past Marshall.

Poyet’s men managed to subdue the Welsh outfit in the early stages of the second half – Gunnarsson central to the only chance of note as he fired comfortably over. Albion diced with death on the hour mark as El-Abd’s barge on Bellamy was adjudged to have been just outside the area – much to the annoyance of the Cardiff crowd.

Fraizer Campbell found himself on the end of some decent service, first heading wide, and then clearing the bar from close range after Matt Connolly had crossed from the right. As Cardiff continued to pepper the Albion goalmouth, Kuszczak yet again showcased his shot-stopping brilliance, tipping over Craig Conway’s fierce drive from distance.

The Seagulls defended admirably in the face of more Cardiff pressure, as the hosts continued to pump deliveries into the box – one long-throw from Gunnarsson pin-balled between legs before trickling just wide of Kuszczak’s goal.

Bellamy skewed an effort wide, before Albion threatened on the break through Buckley – the pacy winger latching onto Gary Dicker’s precise through-ball, and firing towards goal from a tight angle, but Marshall was equal to it. And on 90 minutes, Ulloa killed off the contest – much to the relief of the 900-strong Seagulls faithful.

David galloped away down the right, carrying the ball to the byline, before cutting back for Ulloa – the Argentine’s first-time strike deflected up off a defender and nestled into the back of the net to secure a precious 3 points for his side.