By 90Min
April 19, 2019

It was a game that the phrase 'relegation six-pointer' was invented for.

Cardiff City travelled down to Brighton on Tuesday night with their team in the final relegation place, to take on the side one place and five points above them in the league table.

With just four games to go for Neil Warnock's side after this, victory for the home side would all-but end the visitor's hopes of survival. The gap would have stretched to eight points, with Brighton having played one game less – giving them the opportunity to extend that to 11. Cardiff would have only 12 more points to play for.

Instead the home side capitulated at the Amex Stadium for the second time in four days.

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A 5-0 hammering by Bournemouth at the weekend was followed by an insipid 2-0 defeat against the side just below them. Brighton have now won just three Premier League games since they beat Crystal Palace 3-1 at home at the beginning of December.

Their last win in the top flight was against the same opponents, in the reverse fixture at Selhurst Park in the second week of March.

Since then they have played four times in the league and lost all four.

They have not scored during that run.

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That inability to put the ball in the back of the net is the main reason why they find themselves in the mess they are in. Only two teams have scored fewer than them this season, Huddersfield Town and Cardiff. Both are in the bottom three.

Last season only three teams scored fewer than them. This is not a new problem, and yet it is one manager Chris Hughton remains unable to fix.

Their strong defence kept them up last year – no side in the bottom half of the table conceded fewer goals – but in the end, the defence can only do so much. Goals bring confidence to a team and instil fear in the opposition.

As the goals have continued to dry up, so has the belief. With teams having no need to fear Brighton's attack, their defence has come under even more pressure. Now the cracks are starting to show.

Bruno Saltor Grau

Lewis Dunk and Shane Duffy have been an excellent centre back partnership since Brighton got promoted last season but they cannot continue to repel wave after wave of attacks against high-quality opposition.

In short, Brighton have to start attacking more. They had the majority of the ball on Tuesday night but mustered only two shots on target all evening. Last season's player of the year, Pascal Groß, was substituted just four minutes after Cardiff went two goals to the good.

Having scored seven goals in his first year in England, he has managed just two in this campaign, and that Hughton felt they were more likely to score with Groß off the pitch says everything about how he has played during his second campaign.

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Duffy, a defender, is the club's joint-second highest scorer this season with five strikes. 

Only 35-year-old Glenn Murray has more, with 13 in all competitions, and he has only scored once in the league since the end of January.

Hughton has to find a way of building his team's confidence and getting his strikers scoring regularly.

If he cannot do that, and do it quickly, they may find themselves trying to find the back of the net in the Championship once again next season.

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