A 79th minute strike from winger Yora Enzam was enough to earn a 1-0 win and a place in the fourth round of the FA Youth Cup at the expense of Blackburn Rovers.
The young Cardiff side went close to opening the scoring after twenty three minutes, Tom Burridge’s long range free-kick was perfectly met by Tom James whose header was pushed to safety by Blackburn keeper David Raya.
The away side showed their class in the first-half, keeping the ball well while forcing City back into their own half. Despite this pressure though, Rovers struggled to test City keeper Joseph Massaro as the Bluebirds defence stood strong.
The home side were unlucky not to open the scoring at the end of the half with two strong efforts - Yora Enzam headed over the crossbar on thirty eight minutes following some fine build-up play by Tyler Roche and Dylan Rees. Eli Phipps’ shot on forty three minutes looked destined for the back of the net from close range, but Raya somehow pushed the ball clear as Cardiff ended the half on top.
HALF TIME: CARDIFF CITY U-18s 0-0 BLACKBURN ROVERS U-18s
City came out for the second half in determined fashion, Burridge’s daisy cutting cross field ball reached Roche on the right wing with the pacey young winger beating his man before dinking a shot towards goal with in-form Rovers 'keeper Maya again denying the home side an opening goal.
Rovers’ best chance of the match came on sixty five minutes, with Cardiff fortunate to escape unscathed following a rare lapse of concentration in defence. Callum Harris found a way past the home defence but the midfielder was unable to divert home as City failed to clear the ball, cannoning back off Harris’ body, onto the post and out for a goal-kick.
City 'keeper Massaro was forced into a number of fine saves as the game entered its final third, the young City stopper denying Dean Rittenberg and Harris in quick succession as Rovers searched for the all-important first goal of the match.
It seemed as if it was the end of the match for Cardiff’s number 11 Yora Enzam on seventy four minutes, with the forward struggling to return to play after a tough challenge. Enzam shook off the injury though and returned to the field, with this proving crucial just a matter of moments later.
Enzam firstly struck the underside of the crossbar on seventy eight minutes after breaking in behind the Blackburn defence, he wasn’t to be denied for very long though as the game finally had its first goal on seventy nine minutes.
Substitute Abdi Noor showed how crucial he can be for Kevin Nicholson’s side with a defence splitting pass to the right for fellow sub Tom Pearson, before Pearson looked to return the favour to Noor with a low cross that the Blackburn defence failed to clear. The ball eventually fell to Enzam who set himself before firing low into Raya’s bottom right corner much to the delight of the watching 410 fans in attendance.
Enzam continued to trouble the away defence, Raya stopping the young Cardiff forward from bagging a second goal through a delicate lob on eighty three minutes. Yora’s heroics continued on the City goal line after eighty five minutes, Dean Rittenberg’s shot finding a way past Massaro but not Enzam who struck the ball to safety.
Bluebirds 'keeper Massaro worked hard to maintain his clean sheet in the final few moments as Blackburn searched for a goal to keep alive their hopes in the FA Youth Cup. The home side managed to hold on and seal their place in the fourth round draw following a hard fought win.
FULL TIME: CARDIFF CITY U-18s 1-0 BLACKBURN ROVERS U-18s
Cardiff City: Massaro, Rees, Tutonda, Burridge, C Watkins, James, Roche (Pearson, 74), B Watkins, Phipps (Noor, 63) Southam, Enzam (Patten, 88). Subs Not Used: Loveys, Veale.
Goals: Enzam (79)
Blackburn Rovers: Raya, Vicars, Doyle (Langford, 88), Bauress, Butterwick, Pierce (Cham, 84), Rittenberg, Wassi, Preston, Harris, Torres (Joel, 59). Subs Not Used: Williams, Lavelle.