Cardiff City threw away a 2-0 lead, and almost recovered a 5-2 deficit, last night, eventually losing 5-4 at Charlton Athletic. The result is a third consecutive away defeat, and sees Malky Mackay's side slip to third in the Championship table.
The Bluebirds started the night in top spot. And it looked as though that position was safe, as they raced into a two-goal lead. Heidar Helguson's header from a corner put them ahead in the fourth minute, and Joe Mason doubled their advantage after 24, lashing home after Ben Turner had hit the bar.
Charlton were level by half-time though. First, Cardiff 'keeper David Marshall dropped a long ball, giving Johnnie Jackson the simplest of tasks. Jackson then headed in from close range after abject marking from a corner.
Those were two goals in the last six minutes of the first half, and Charlton got three more in the first 20 minutes of the second. Dale Stephens' long-range free kick found the net, Danny Haynes headed in, and Rob Hulse looked to have made the game safe with another header.
Cardiff rallied strongly as the game reached 90 minutes, with Craig Noone and Aron Gunnarsson on target. Noone then had a chance to snatch a dramatic point, but his effort flew narrowly over the bar.
– Malky Mackay, Cardiff City Manager
You can't legislate for individual errors. We started really well and played as good as we have played away from home this season. Then David Marshall drops one he would normally gather and Johnnie Jackson will never score an easier header. And if Marshall loses a goal from 50 yards again I will be amazed, he had been fantastic this season. We lost our shape after that and players who have been consistent all season started doing things they wouldn't normally do. But I have a group of payers that have been incredibly consistent this season and we need to make sure we go out there on Saturday and stop the individual errors - four goals could have been avoided tonight because of that. Teams go through runs in this league and we are on that at the moment.
– Chris Powell, Charlton Athletic Manager
It was an entertaining evening and a real lift for us, especially at home, as home is where you really want to get your points in front of your fans. The crowd could quite easily have turned at 2-0 down but I felt they dragged us through and our support was superb.
Cardiff have an 100% home record in the Championship this season, but a second defeat on the road in four days - and a fifth in all away from home - has seen them fall just behind Crystal Palace and Middlesbrough in what promises to be an enthralling promotion race. The Bluebirds have a chance to regain top spot when they welcome Hull City - currently level on points and just one point them - to the Cardiff City Stadium on Saturday afternoon.