Brighton & Hove Albion manager Chris Hughton voiced his clear disappointment towards game-changing decisions made at the Cardiff City Stadium this afternoon, as Sol Bamba’s late goal snatched all three points.
After Dale Stephens received a controversial straight red card for a challenge in the first half, Bamba fired home in the closing stages to deny the Seagulls a point in Wales.
Hughton saw both incidents after the match and believes that mistakes were made in reducing his team to ten men and allowing Bamba’s dramatic goal to stand.
He said, “We’re frustrated and angry because when you’re down to ten men for such a long period of time, you certainly warrant getting something out of the game.
“There are two big decisions — the first one is the red card and I think that particular challenge can go any way. What Dale [Stephens] has done is give the referee a decision to make.
“I’ve certainly seen worse with the studs showing very early. There’s not great contact with the player — some referees wouldn’t have given it, some would have done, and that bit I understand.
“What I find harder to understand is, particularly at that stage of the game, a linesman that’s in the position he’s in getting that one [Sol Bamba’s goal] wrong.
“We’ve seen it on numerous occasions and he’s in an offside position. That’s the frustration and anger. For me it’s a comfortable and easy decision to make.”
Albion defended well to keep the game level after Stephens’s 34th-minute dismissal, and Hughton felt his team had done enough to deserve a share of the spoils before Cardiff’s cruel winner.
“When you’re down to ten men for that period of time, you know it’s going to take a battling performance.
“We know they’re a direct team and they were always going to put us under pressure, but I can’t remember many clear chances in 90 minutes and that’s how well we’ve done to compete.
“We had opportunities of our own to break their lines — Jose’s [Izquierdo] shot, if it’s not as central, would have given us a chance.
“We had a lot of corners to deal with and we dealt with them very well, but on their winning goal the linesman has made a mistake.”
Lewis Dunk headed the Seagulls into a sixth-minute lead, scoring his second goal in as many games, and with the defender now heading off on international duty with England, Hughton believes the 26-year-old can take confidence with him.
“Lewis Dunk has come out of this well — he’s got a goal for us and I think he was very good today.
“He can use that and be confident enough going into the England squad knowing that he thoroughly deserves it.
“He’s a player that’s worked hard at his game and has matured over a period of time. He’s put in the type of displays that’s got him the recognition he deserves.”