Cherries top the bill thanks to Phil's winner
- Josh Smith
Phil Billing’s finely-taken goal earned AFC Bournemouth victory at the Cardiff City Stadium as Scott Parker’s team climbed to the Championship summit.
Billing’s low drive from 25 yards found the bottom corner of the net after 54 minutes to settle a keenly-contested encounter in favour of the visitors.
The Danish international’s fourth goal of the season saw the visitors head back across the Severn Bridge with a third win in eight days, following victories over Barnsley and QPR.
And it was no more than Parker’s team deserved, the Cherries rewarded for their enterprise and endeavour as they dominated for long periods.
The visitors created a number of other presentable chances but also had to defend for their lives at times as Cardiff pumped long balls and mule-like throws into their box.
It was the club’s first league win against Cardiff in South Wales since goals from Mark Stein and Richard Hughes saw them run out 2-1 victors in 2000.
Chances were at a premium during a cagey first half with the Cherries denied when Cardiff goalkeeper Dillon Phillips saved from Ryan Christie.
Mark Travers was relatively untroubled as the Cherries defence coped well with a series of long balls forward.
A stirring second-half display from the Cherries saw them defend and go close to adding to Billing's goal on several occasions.
Ben Pearson replaced David Brooks in the Cherries starting line-up as head coach Parker made one change following Tuesday’s thrilling 2-1 win against QPR.
Dominic Solanke, who netted against QPR, made his 100th appearance for the club on the ground he made his Cherries debut in February 2019.
Gary Cahill was forced to turn Leandro Bacuna’s dangerous low cross behind for a corner as Kieffer Moore looked to pounce before the Bluebirds striker was denied by Adam Smith’s tackle.
Curtis Nelson hacked away Jaidon Anthony’s cross after the young winger had been picked out by Lloyd Kelly and gone past Bluebirds goalkeeper Phillips.
Phillips then pouched a low drive from Christie following some neat build-up play from the Cherries involving Solanke.
Billing had the ball in the net in the 20th minute, only to see his effort ruled out for a foul before Christie fashioned the first noteworthy chance midway through the first half.
The Scotland international, fed by Jefferson Lerma, stepped in from the left flank before seeing his angled drive from 20 yards parried for a corner by Phillips.
And after Anthony’s corner had been cleared, Christie was booked for a foul on Mark Harris as the hosts looked to mount a quick break.
Travers atoned for a poor clearance by smothering Moore’s effort before Lerma fired wide from 25 yards having been teed up by Billing.
Jordan Zemura’s delicate cross created the first opening of the second half with Solanke climbing to meet his cross, only to see his header strike Harris.
And after Billing had reacted quickest to meet the loose ball, his header looped the wrong side of the crossbar.
Cardiff had a penalty appeal waved away after Harris had gone to ground under a challenge by Kelly before Aden Flint blocked Lerma’s shot.
Billing made the breakthrough when he beat Phillips with a low shot from 25 yards, the Dane finishing with precision into the bottom corner.
The goal owed much to some slick build-up play involving Smith and Christie, their sublime exchange of passes near the touchline completely carving open the Cardiff defence.
Another effort from Billing flashed past the upright as the Cherries went in search of a quickfire second goal.
And after Lerma had been felled by Ciaron Brown, Billing’s thunderous free-kick was acrobatically beaten away by Phillips.
Billing then burst through on the left-hand side of the 18-yard box, only to fire well wide of the target when well placed.
Cardiff substitutes Joel Bagan and James Collins combined to fashion a chance, the latter heading the former’s cross past the post in the 77th minute.
Moore’s tumble failed to convince referee Joshua Smith to point to the spot before Sean Morrison hit the crossbar with a header, although he was offside.
Solanke clipped an effort past the post after meeting Anthony’s cross before Billing’s piledriver was nodded behind for a corner by Morrison.
AFC Bournemouth: Travers, Smith, Cahill, Kelly, Zemura, Lerma, Pearson, Billing, Christie (Rogers, 88), Anthony (Mepham, 90), Solanke (Lowe, 88).
Unused subs: Brooks, Marcondes, Stacey, Nyland (g/k).
Booked: Christie, Lerma, Smith.
Cardiff City: Phillips, Sang (Colwill, 61), Morrison, Flint, Nelson, Brown (Bagan, 73), Vaulks, Pack, Harris (Collins, 61), Moore, Bacuna.
Booked: Harris, Nelson, Brown.
Unused subs: McGuiness, Bowen, Ng, Smithies (g/k).
Referee: Joshua Smith.