Sky Bet Championship: Bakary Sako winner sees Wolves to 1-0 win over Cardiff
Last Updated: 01/03/15 5:04pm
Wolves boosted their Sky Bet Championship play-off hopes as Bakary Sako's strike gave them a 1-0 win over 10-man Cardiff and spoiled Vincent Tan's return to the Welsh capital.
Kenny Jackett's men have now won four of their last five and are coming on strong at just the right time of the season as they target back-to-back promotions.
Cardiff, who had Peter Whittingham sent off midway through the second half, have now taken all three points in just one of their last eight home games and may have left their Malaysian owner wondering why he made the trip.
Tan's attendance was his first at a Cardiff game since the defeat to Chelsea on the last day of last season.
The Malaysian received a warm reception from supporters prior to kick-off and was resplendent in blue following his decision to reverse the controversial rebrand.
But, with that off-field issue taken care of, there remains much work to do on it as a committed but guileless Cardiff came up short.
The Bluebirds had made a bright start, buoyed by a first win in nine at Wigan in midweek.
Eoin Doyle had an early penalty shout turned away after a challenge by Dominic Iorfa, while Sean Morrison headed over from Whittingham's corner.
Wolves, despite their recent free-scoring form, struggled for fluency and the likes of Benik Afobe and Sako were having little impact.
But, when former Arsenal striker Afobe found space for the first time, Cardiff were ruthlessly punished.
Afobe got away from Craig Noone and found Rajiv van La Parra and, when his cross came back off Bruno Manga, Sako was on hand to put the loose ball into the bottom corner.
The goal came slightly against the run of play but Wolves were soon on the front foot again. Sako drove forward and played in Afobe, the striker's shot was saved by David Marshall and La Parra could not convert the rebound.
Cardiff responded with a purposeful opening to the second half, with top scorer Kenwyne Jones heading inches wide from another Whittingham corner.
At the other end, Marshall again kept Cardiff in the mix with a brilliant stop to deny Afobe, who had been played in by Aron Gunnarsson's woeful back-pass.
Then came Whittingham's moment of madness.
Cardiff had been furious that Dominic Iorfa had avoided a second booking for a wild tackle on Noone, but, when Whittingham hacked down his replacement Matt Doherty, referee Robert Madley had no hesitation in dismissing the veteran Bluebird for the first time in his career.
It looked a long way back from Cardiff, but they came within inches of an equaliser when Tomasz Kuszczak missed a straightforward take and the ball rolled goalward off Sean Morrison, only for the ball to be scrambled clear.
Kuszczak flapped again as time ran out, but Richard Stearman spared his blushes by clearing Jones' header.