|Gestede 8||Venue: Cardiff City Stadium
MILLWALL were beaten by a solitary goal in the Welsh capital as they ended 2012 with a second straight league defeat.
Rudy Gestede's eighth-minute strike proved to be the difference between the two sides and boss Kenny Jackett will have been left frustrated after watching his players spurn a host of chances.
Jackett's starting line-up showed three changes from the side that were beaten 2-1 by Barnsley, with Jimmy Abdou, Dany N'Guessan and Scott Malone coming in for Josh Wright, Liam Feeney and Chris Wood respectively.
The visitors had the first chance of the game in the third minute when Adam Smith glanced a header well wide from James Henry's cross.
Cardiff soon created an opportunity of their own when, after a quick throw-in, Peter Whittingham was given time and space on the edge of the area but his powerful drive was deflected behind for a corner by Shane Lowry.
The Lions were fortunate not to be punished for some slack defending on that occasion but there would be no reprieve in the eighth minute when Craig Noone breezed past Lowry before cutting the ball back for Gestede to tap home.
Noone curled an effort a yard wide after cutting in from the right wing and Craig Bellamy's dangerous cross-shot was cleared for a corner as the Bluebirds pushed for a quick-fire second goal.
But Darius Henderson then spurned two glorious chances at the other end to equalise – first guiding Liam Trotter's cross straight into the arms of David Marshall, before the Cardiff keeper made a reaction save to keep out his close-range header.
In the 26th minute, Noone's deflected cross looped into the path of Craig Conway on the edge of the area but the winger's ambitious first-time effort sailed over.
Henderson was determined to make amends for his earlier misses but fired a yard wide of Marshall's post soon after, before Henry's turn-and-shot from a similar distance also failed to hit the target.
Millwall were growing in confidence by this stage and it took a heroic block from Cardiff captain Mark Hudson to keep out Lowry's venomous strike from the edge of the area.
Minutes later, Hudson nearly made it 2-0 but Forde somehow managed to parry the defender's close-range thunderbolt.
On the stroke of half-time it was Marshall's turn to make a save, this time to keep out Danny Shittu's effort from a corner.
Cardiff came flying out of the traps at the start of the second-half and should have doubled their advantage when Bellamy cut the ball back to Jordan Mutch inside the area, but his low shot was deflected wide by Abdou's flying block.
In the 55th minute, Dany N'Guessan turned in midfield before sliding a through-ball into the path of Henry who, with just the keeper to beat, inexplicably blasted over the bar.
N'Guessan's shot was then held by Marshall before, from Henry's lofted cross, Henderson sent a looping header towards goal but the ball dropped onto the roof of the net.
With the Lions committing more and more bodies forward, inevitably they became vulnerable to counter-attacks and they were nearly hit with a sucker punch when Bellamy beat the offside trap but he lobbed over.
Bellamy turned provider for Noone soon after, feeding the winger as he raced clear down the right wing, but Forde made a smart save to tip his effort around the post.
But one goal proved enough for the Bluebirds, who maintained their five-point lead at the top of the table.
Cardiff City: Marshall, McNaughton, Hudson, Turner, Taylor, Conway, Whittingham, Gunnarsson (Mutch, 45+2mins), Noone (Cowie,73mins), Gestede (Helguson, 78mins), Bellamy. Subs not used: Lewis, Cowie, Connolly, Kim, Mason.
Millwall: Forde, A.Smith, Lowry, Abdou, Shittu, Beevers, Malone (Feeney, 18mins), N'Guessan (Batt, 64mins), Trotter, Henderson, Henry. Subs: M.Taylor, J.Smith, Wright, Osborne, Dunne.