City’s valiant development side fell to their first league defeat since February with a 3-2 away loss at Queens Park Rangers on Monday afternoon.
The home side kicked this match off in some fashion, opening the scoring within ten seconds of the start. John Brayford caught by the pace of Rangers attacker Mo Shariff with the young wingers cross met perfectly by the in-form Tom Hitchcock.
Despite falling behind so early on, the young Cardiff professionals soon got into their strides and some fantastic one touch football gave former Plymouth Argyle man Joe Mason a chance in front of goal. The towering ‘R’s’ keeper Aaron Lennox produced a fine save to deny Mason and City an equalising goal.
It was this free flowing and fast paced football that saw Cooper’s side level the tie after seventeen minutes. Kadeem Harris’ low cross was lashed into the back of the QPR goal by Rhys Healey to equalise for Cardiff.
The hosts managed to regain the lead just three minutes later in fortuitous fashion. Michael Petrasso beating the City offside trap before poking the ball beyond keeper Simon Moore. The young forwards attempt bouncing back off the Cardiff upright and perfectly into the path of Hitchcock who tapped into the back of the net.
A second goal came for the away side on the half hour mark and it was Healey who continued his impressive goal-scoring start to the campaign, the young striker opened up his body to make space before shooting across QPR keeper Lennox and into the back of the net.
City will have felt unfortunate not to receive an opportunity to take the lead from the penalty spot in the second half as Healey was felled inside the penalty area with referee Steven Bates waving play on despite contact on the Cardiff forward. Healey did find a way past Lennox for a third time after seventy minutes with the young striker heading towards goal and past the QPR keeper; Healey’s effort couldn’t beat the home defence though as Rangers cleared, denying him a hat-trick goal.
The match’s all important fifth goal finally came on seventy five minutes with the home team taking the lead for a third time. A direct through ball over the top beat the young City defence with Michael Petrasso running on and poking the ball over Moore and into the empty net.
Some fantastic footwork from Rhys Healey in the host’s penalty area almost brought about a third equaliser for Cardiff. The Manchester-born forward wasn’t phased under intense pressure from four QPR defenders in the box, beating each man before curling a brilliant effort towards goal that was equally matched by the exquisite save from Lennox.
They went even closer to equalising two minutes later with Mason and Brayford showing their experience to split the home defence apart. Brayford returning the ball to Mason just inside the Rangers penalty area with the strikers powerful strike cannoning off the crossbar and to safety.
A first loss of the season for City’s development side at arguably their hardest away opponents of the campaign. City will look to bounce back from this defeat next Monday when they host Brentford, kick-off at Cardiff City Stadium is 7pm.
Cardiff City: Moore, Brayford, Owen, Kiss, Oshilaja, Williams, Wharton, O’Sullivan, Healey, Mason, Harris. Subs Not Used: Massaro, Bell, Bowen, Southam, Amondarain.
Goals: Healey (17, 30)
Queens Park Rangers: Lennox, Magri, Kpekawa, Diakite (Monthe, 58), Ehmer, Sandles-White, Shariff, Sutherland, Hitchcock, Ephraim (Carreiro, 68), Petrasso (Fitzpatrick, 78). Subs Not Used: Lumley, Pattie.
Goals: Hitchcock (1, 20), Petrasso (75)