Town undone by Manga first-half goal in a game of few chances at Cardiff City Stadium
The Bluebirds’ defender was left alone to head in from a corner and while Town had plenty of possession and chances through Freddie Sears and Ben Pringle, the equaliser wouldn’t come.
The defeat leaves Town four points off the Play-Off places with a game in hand, with Blackburn the visitors to Portman Road on Tuesday night.
Cole Skuse and Daryl Murphy returned to the Town side after injury, with Luke Hyam preferred to Jonathan Douglas in midfield. Michael Crowe hitched a lift with the Town media staff to the game as a late replacement for virus victim Dean Gerken.
Freddie Sears forced Simon Moore into a save in the first minutes with a shot from the edge of the box that the ‘keeper gathered at the second attempt, Murphy then trying to find Sears after cutting inside from the right.
Town started the better and from Ben Pringle’s corner, Moore came under pressure from Murphy but Matthew Connolly cleared the loose ball with his ‘keeper grounded.
It was the Bluebirds who opened the scoring though on 18 minutes and in such a simple fashion, Peter Whittingham’s corner headed in by the un-marked Manga.
Christophe Berra responded for Town with a header wide from Pringle’s corner, the Scotland international then having to do his defensive duties to clear from Whittingham’s cross.
Bart Bialkowski had to be quick off his line to head clear as Anthony Pilkington looked to get on the end of a ball over the top of Tommy Smith, Skuse then finding Pringle with an excellent pass, his cross skimming in front of the waiting Murphy six yards out.
Murphy headed wide under pressure from Connolly, then Berra did enough to deflect Whittingham’s wickedly hit free-kick away from danger.
Murphy again caused problems for the Cardiff defence with his power, Moore just doing enough to clear with a punch at full stretch, the ‘keeper then falling on the ball as Murphy was first to Pringle’s corner to bring the first-half to an end.
Brett Pitman replaced Kevin Bru at the break, Moore immediately in the action for Cardiff to pluck a Luke Chambers cross out of the air.
Whittingham’s clever touch forced a corner for the home side, Bialkowski holding firm and from the break, Pitman’s header fell for Pringle but his left foot strike flashed wide from a good opening.
Town were inches away from an equaliser just before the hour, Berra’s ball forward wasn’t dealt with and caused confusion in the box but Scott Malone cleared off the line.
Pitman saw a shot deflected for a corner as Town enjoyed a spell of pressure on the Bluebirds’ goal, Smith’s header across goal hacked clear as Sears looked to take advantage.
Malone blasted just over after the best move of the match on 65 minutes, taking Lex Immers’ backheel in his stride before firing at goal from the edge of the box.
Berra’s foul on Pilkington following an excellent pass from Whittingham gave Cardiff’s free-kick magician a chance 20 yards out but Bialkowski got his angles right to save from Whittingham.
Luke Varney replaced Pringle for the last 20 minutes, the injured Whittingham leaving the action at the same time with Aron Gunnarsson coming in.
Bialkowski tipped over Pilkington’s header, the striker then volleying over from the corner as Cardiff looked to tie up the points.
Murphy blitzed a right foot effort high and wide from the angle before Mick McCarthy played a final card with Ainsley Maitland-Niles replacing Smith for the last five minutes but Town couldn’t find that elusive goal.
Cardiff: Moore, Peltier, Connolly, Manga, Malone, Noone, O’Keefe, Ralls, Whittingham (Gunnarsson 73), Pilkington (Dikgacoi 82), Immers. Subs not used: Wilson, Morrison, Zohore, Lawrence, Ameobi.