The team started well after the long journey to Wales but the game changed in the space of four minutes in the first half.
First of all Michelle Green opened the scoring for Cardiff after a scramble from a free-kick and then the match-defining moment when Naomi Clipston's shot cannoned off the underside of the crossbar and was adjudged to have crossed the line for 2-0 by the officials. Goalkeeper Toni-Anne Wayne was then sent off for dissent.
Down to 10 players and 2-0 down, Spurs battled on until conceding a third to Kelly Aldridge eight minutes from time.
Jenna Schillaci was then denied from the penalty spot by home goalkeeper Laura O'Sullivan and an afternoon to forget was capped by Cardiff's fourth goal from Laura Williams in added time.
"We actually started well and looked strong early in the game, we knew we needed to start like that after the long journey in the morning," said manager Karen Hills.
"But we gave a poor goal away when we failed to clear our lines from a free-kick and two minutes later, disaster, we conceded the second, Toni-Anne was sent off and it was uphill from there, 2-0 behind and down to 10 players.
"Lucia Leon took over in goal and did really well, kept us in it until half-time and we competed well in the second half, we stayed compact defensively and Alex Keown and Jenna Schillaci were outstanding.
"We began to tire, conceded a third, then missed a penalty and conceded a fourth late on.
"It was one of those days, a bad day at the office and we'll move on."
Spurs take on Leyton in the London Cup at Cheshunt FC on Sunday (2pm).
Spurs Ladies: Toni-Anne Wayne, Mollie Kmita, Alex Keown, Jenna Schillaci, Lucia Leon, Shannon Moloney, Maya Via (Bianca Baptiste 46), Katie O'Leary, Avilla Bergin, Jenny Moore (Rosie Kmita 70), Leah Rawle (Riana Soobadoo 70).