Brighton 2-2 Cardiff

A late Sam Vokes equaliser maintained Brighton and Hove Albion's unbeaten league start to 2012 as Cardiff City halted their Championship slump.

Cardiff striker Joe Mason opened the scoring, calmly slotting in from close range after the Seagulls could not clear Don Cowie's cross.

Ashley Barnes prodded in an equaliser from Craig Noone's cross but Albion were level for less than 90 seconds.

Peter Whittingham's wonder strike, however, was cancelled out by Vokes.

The Wales striker denied the the Welsh team a first away win of 2012 with 90 seconds remaining in normal time as Vokes tapped in Barnes' cut-back after Liam Bridcutt's deep cross.

Brighton remain a point and a place above play-off chasers Cardiff in seventh but the last-gasp leveller prevented Malky Mackay's men moving back into the top six.

Brighton were protecting the longest unbeaten run in the Championship, a sequence which now stands at 11 games thanks to substitute Vokes' fourth goal during his loan spell with the Seagulls.

Gus Poyet's men should have taken a 15th-minute lead when Craig Mackail-Smith wriggled free in the penalty area but his effort was well saved by Cardiff keeper David Marshall.

Mackail-Smith then hit a free-kick over while Gonzalo Jara hit a post following a Bridcutt free-kick as Cardiff sat back and absorbed long spells of Brighton pressure.

Then the Bluebirds, who had lost four of their last five league games, took the lead against the run of play as Mark Hudson found Mason in the area.

The Republic of Ireland youth international evaded two defenders before stroking the ball wide of Brighton keeper Peter Brezovan and into the corner of the net for his ninth goal of the season.

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Poyet hails Albion fighting spirit

Barnes had been denied twice in a matter of seconds by Hudson and Marshall but the striker, who scored twice in the in October, levelled with an improvised strike.

Noone, a , was allowed time to cross from the left and picked out Barnes, who leapt to poke home his 12th goal of the season from close range.

Whittingham restored Cardiff's lead almost immediately as a ball broke loose on the edge of the box from Mason's corner and Whittingham clipped a 20-yard shot with the outside of his left foot into the top right-hand corner of Brezovan's net for his 11th goal of the season.

Vokes' clinical, poked equaliser rescued Brighton a deserved point and Poyet's men are now the only team in the English league to remain undefeated in 2012.

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