Trevoh Chalobah’s second-half strike to cancel out Joe Ralls initial opener proved not enough as a late deflected effort from Junior Hoilett secured three points for Cardiff City in the Welsh capital.
After the dismissal of Jan Siewert on Friday evening, Mark Hudson took charge as Caretaker Head Coach for a trip to face arguably his most noteworthy former side in Cardiff City.
Hudson made a trio of changes as Trevoh Chalobah replaced Juninho Bacuna, Rajiv van La Parra replaced Lewis O’Brien and Isaac Mbenza was handed his first Sky Bet Championship start of the season in place of Elias Kachunga.
Town’s loan ‘keeper Kamil Grabara was thrust straight into the thick of the action within the opening two minutes, after a trademark long-throw from former Terrier Sean Morrison was initially cleared, Josh Murphy collected the ball on the left-hand side of the area and cutting inside, fired an effort that forced Town’s Polish ‘keeper into a tremendous diving save.
A clear change to the system was apparent for Mark Hudson’s side with Alex Pritchard now operating in the number-10 position behind Karlan Grant. Pritchard was to have Town’s first noteworthy chance as some patient build-up play culminated in an overlapping Trevoh Chalobah cutting it back to ‘Pritch’ who couldn’t quite position his feet correctly to break the deadlock.
The Town players in their fiery coral alternative strip were left aggrieved at an offside appeal that was waved away, presenting Neil Warnock’s side with a dangerous chance. Lee Peltier fired in a whipped free-kick from deep that was left by a Cardiff attacker - purported to be in an offside position and interfering with play - allowing Robert Glatzel to control and fire over from close range.
Town’s patient probing nearly paid dividends midway through the first half as Alex Pritchard played Rajiv van La Parra in behind with a pass between Cardiff’s defensive line. Van la Parra’s only real option of a cutback to Karlan Grant was quashed as he took the shot on himself and fired into the side netting on the angle.
Lee Tomlin was back in Cardiff’s starting line-up for the game and he hit back with a chance of his own. Driving at the Town defence, he played a one-two with Robert Glatzel before firing wide of the mark from the edge of the area.
Cardiff were growing into the game and had another dangerous chance as a cross was fired across goal to an unmarked Leandro Bacuna at the far post. Leandro – the brother of Town midfielder Juninho – fired over first-time on his left foot.
The increased pressure applied by the hosts would prove fruitful as they opened the scoring just before the break. Town failed to clear a set-piece effectively allowing Joe Ralls to pick up the ball on the edge of the area, drop his shoulder and calmly place the ball into the corner of Kamil Grabara’s net.
Town were left off conceding a second on the half-time whistle as the Bluebirds pressed forward and Joe Bennett blazed over the crossbar from inside the box.
Mark Hudson’s words at the break proved inspiring for Town as Trevoh Chalobah got the leveller.
The Chelsea loanee collected the ball on the edge of the area and patiently worked himself into a shooting position, powering past Alex Smithies with his left-foot and celebrating with a knee slide in front of the 500 or so Town faithful.
Half chances passed for both sides as Hudson made his first change on the 75-minute mark introducing Adama Diakhaby in place of Isaac Mbenza. With just moments later goalscorer Trevoh Chalobah – who appeared to have been nursing an injury - was replaced by Juninho Bacuna.
10 minutes remained and Cardiff were presented with a dangerous opportunity right on the edge of the area and dead central, with Tommy Elphick punished for a high foot. Omar Bogle stepped up and smashed his free-kick onto Kamil Grabra’s crossbar; with such a dangerous effort at a pivotal point in the game, it was a let off for Town.
The clock was ticking, and Mark Hudson used his third and final change of the evening; bringing on Fraizer Campbell to make his first appearance for his hometown Club.
Town’s search for a winner came in the form of Adama Diakhaby as he accelerated down the right-flank and cut back onto his left, firing a cross-shot across the face of goal that missed the target and wasn’t able to pick out a teammate.
Cardiff had a big chance in the closing stages as Omar Bogle held Christopher Schindler off from a longball and skewed his shot wide of the near post.
The frantic end to the game would end in defeat for Town. Substitute Junior Hoilett collected the ball on the left-wing, cut infield and fired home a deflected.
There was a late chance for a Town equaliser as Karlan Grant was slipped in behind the Cardiff defence and on the angle could only put his effort wide of the near post.
Attentions now turn to the next game that takes place in just three days as Town welcome Reading to the John Smith’s Stadium.
Town’s Team (4-2-3-1):
Kamil Grabara; Terence Kongolo, Christopher Schindler (c), Tommy Elphick, Florent Hadergjonaj; Jonathan Hogg, Trevoh Chalobah (Juninho Bacuna, 77’); Rajiv van La Parra (Fraizer Campbell, 84’), Alex Pritchard, Isaac Mbenza (Adama Diakhaby, 74’); Karlan Grant
Ryan Schofield, Jaden Brown, Lewis O’Brien, Elias Kachunga