FA Youth Cup 3rd Rd triumph for City's U18 squad
Cardiff City's apprentices booked their place in the fourth round of this season's FA Youth Cup with a hard fought 1-0 victory over Charlton Athletic at the Valley.
The hosts enjoyed a strong first half, with England U19 international Karlan Ahearne-Grant pulling the strings for the Addicks scholars.
It was a better second period for City's U18 side, coming out in determined fashion and they deservedly took the lead with just five minutes remaining. Central midfielder Jamie Veale was given space to run following substitute Will Taylor's clever pass, Veale using his time to set and fire home an unstoppable 25-yard drive, giving Charlton keeper Dimitar Mitov no chance of saving.
Time ran out as the Addicks attempted to find a way back into the match with coaches Matthew Bloxham and Jarred Harvey leading Cardiff's apprentices into the fourth round, where they will meet Burnley in an away tie set to take place at the end of January.
Cardiff arrived at the Valley knowing it would be a difficult encounter against a strong Addicks side including England U19 International forward Kerlon Ahearne-Grant. City's apprentices set out for this battle with a 4-3-3 formation, wingers Abdi Noor and Elvis Menayese supporting top-scorer Eli Phipps in attack while there were places on the substitutes bench for current U16 players Scott Coughlan, Lewis Baldwin and Mark Harris.
The first chance of the match fell to the hosts following Regan Charles-Cook's strong run down the left side, supplying the ball for Ademola Lookman to fire over the crossbar from an acute angle after 12 minutes. While the hosts enjoyed the majority of possession in the opening period, they struggled to carve out a real opportunity with the Cardiff City defence holding strong. Home captain Aaron Barnes delicate through ball almost found Brandon Hanlan in the box, but the forward couldn't stretch far enough to make contact with only Joseph Massaro to beat. Massaro was called into action after 32 minutes, but the young City shot stopper was more than equal to playmaker Ahearne-Grant's shot from 20-yards.
Pacey winger Noor almost made the Addicks pay for their wasteful play just a minute later, beating his defender during a mazey run on the left side before dragging a low shot just wide of goal. City began to grow into this match more and more in the final fifteen minutes of the half, Phipps with a delightful through ball for Elvis Menayese, who in-turn set for Lloyd Humphries to try his luck from 20-yards with his shot deflecting just wide of Dimitar Mitov's left post.
The best chance of the half came for the Addicks with just three minutes to the break. Wide midfielder George Lapslie with an accurate cross that perfectly found the head of Ahearne-Grant but he diverted the ball well over from close range. Charlton had one further chance before the break through defender Ezri Konsa, though he also nodded over from less than five yards out. The strong first half defensive display from Cardiff meant it was goalless at the break, despite the hosts controlling possession and having two good opportunities to score late on.
HALF-TIME: CHARLTON ATHLETIC 0-0 CARDIFF CITY
Substitution - Cardiff City: Eli Phipps replaced by Jake Watkins (45 mins)
Bloxham and Harvey made a half time change, with Jake Watkins entering in place of Phipps - E. Menayese moving into the centre of attack following this change with Watkins taking up a spot on the right side of attack for the final 45 minutes. The half began tightly, with neither team wanting to give up possession. Massaro denied Ahearne-Grant once more after an hour, moments before Noor's effort was saved by opposition keeper Mitov.
Substitution - Cardiff City: Lloyd Humphries replaced by Will Taylor (63 mins)
Substitution - Charlton Athletic: Brandon Hanlan replaced by Joshua Umerah (66 mins)
The Charlton keeper needed to be alert after 69 minutes to deny Jamie Veale's curling free kick, tipping the ball wide of goal. From the resulting corner, defender Ashley Baker almost stunned the Valley with a delightful turn-and-volley that eventually landed on the roof of the goal. Baker impressed at full-back, having to show restraint and discipline in each challenge following an early booking.
This end-to-end match continued with Massaro doing well to push away a strong shot from Charlton winger Lookman before City U18 captain Robbie Patten tried his luck from 30-yards with the ball going over with little under 15 minutes left on the clock and the deadlock yet to be broken. The hosts tired noticeably in the second half, with Cardiff showing a bigger attacking threat. This didn't stop the Addicks creativity though, a clever quick corner kick giving Charles-Cook the opportunity to shoot at goal but he could only curl the shot wide after 79 minutes.
It seemed as if the Cardiff goal was leading a charmed life after 83 minutes, Lookman's driven ball taking a number of deflections on the way through a packed penalty box, ending up going just a couple of yards wide of goal. It would have been an unfortunate goal to concede, but there was nothing fortunate about the only goal of the match which finally came with five minutes remaining.
Defender Rollin Menayese rising highest under pressure to head clear in the middle of the park seconds before substitute Will Taylor's neat pass freed midfield partner Jamie Veale. Veale had ten clear yards between him and the nearest home defender, but took just two strides with the ball before unleashing an incredible 25 yard drive that flew off his right boot and into the top right corner of Mitov's net much to the delight of his teammates and coaches. It was a goal worthy of winning any cup tie.
GOAL!!! CHARLTON ATHLETIC 0-1 CARDIFF CITY (Jamie Veale, 85 mins)
Substitution - Charlton Athletic: Alex Kelly replaced by Samuel Bone (87 mins)
While Charlton tried to score and take the match to extra time, City were comfortable in the final five minutes of regular time and during the four minutes added on. The defence of Baker, Rollin Menayese, Sam Williams and Dylan Rees dealt with everything thrown at them during this match with maturity and confidence, and deserve a lot of credit for the clean sheet achieved by Massaro.
FULL TIME: CHARLTON ATHLETIC 0-1 CARDIFF CITY
This impressive cup win has seen City rewarded with a trip to Burnley in the fourth round of the FA Youth Cup, currently set to take place in late January. Full details to be confirmed in due course.
Charlton Athletic: Mitov, Barnes, Edwards, Yao, Konsa; Charles-Cook, Kelly (Bone, 87), Lapslie; Lookman, Ahearne-Grant, Hanlan (Umerah, 66). Subs Not Used: Beeney, Bokciu, Bangura-Williams.
Cardiff City: Massaro, Rees, Baker, R Menayese, Williams, Humphries (Taylor, 63), Veale, Patten, E Menayese, Noor, Phipps (Watkins, 45). Subs Not Used: Coughlan, Baldwin, Harris.