DAVID Ngog gave Dougie Freedman a winning start as Wanderers boss – and then found himself sent off in a pulsating second half at the Reebok.
The new Whites boss appeared to have pulled off a tactical masterstroke sending on Martin Petrov and then Ngog from the bench shortly before the hour mark.
Craig Noone had given the visitors the lead just before the interval with a deflected effort – the only shot in target in a turgid 45 minutes. And it looked like it was asking a lot to haul the Whites back into a dreadful game.
But with the arrival of the two substitutes, the game exploded into life with just as much gusto as the fireworks that had been entertaining the fans prior to kick-off.
Ngog had one goal unfairly chalked out for offside after lashing home Chung-Yong Lee's clever ball but got the perfect revenge by winning the penalty that got his side level.
Replays showed that South Korean midfielder Kim Bo-Hyung kicked the striker's ankle as he wound up to shoot – leaving referee Tony Bates to award yet another spot kick at the Reebok.
Petrov stepped up to calmly stroke the ball into the bottom corner – but better was to come.
Ngog forced David Marshall into one excellent save at his near post, but as the Whites kept the pressure on from the corner, the Frenchman managed to divert Sam Ricketts' low shot to send the stadium into raptures.
Cardiff pressed hard for an equaliser and Noone had another shot deflected inches wide with three minutes left on the clock.
No sooner had Ngog forced Marshall into another scrambling stop as his night was ended early.
He had already picked up one yellow card for a trip on Aron Gunnarsson, but then clattered into the back of Neil Cowie to earn a second yellow inside six minutes.
Petrov could have settled nerves when he broke through on Chris Eagles' pass and chipped his effort over the keeper, only for Mark Hudson to make a clearance on the line.
But in a breathless last few moments, it was Cardiff keeper Marshall who nearly grabbed the headlines, forcing his opposite number Adam Bogdan into a reaction save in injury time to deny him an amazing equaliser.