Confidence-boosting victory for the young Bluebirds
Cardiff City’s U21 Development squad scored three goals in eight second-half minutes to complete a deserved victory over Sheffield Wednesday at Cardiff City Stadium in their first home league match of 2015/16.
U21 manager Kevin Nicholson handed starts to experienced professionals Semi Ajayi, Matthew Kennedy and Kadeem Harris for this match, while 17-year-old second year apprentice Rhys Abbruzzese was the youngest member of the Cardiff City squad.
Matt Penney had the first chance for the away side on three minutes, against the run of play, but his low strike was easily held by Luke O’Reilly in the City goal.
Kadeem Harris had a good opportunity inside the area after 28 minutes but his powerful shot was blocked by Owls defender, Will Dehaviland. Immediately from the restart, Matty Kennedy shifted inside and fired low at Brad McDonagh in goal, who turned the ball to safety.
The lively Kennedy delivered a wonderful cross, six minutes from the break, which was taken off the incoming Harris at the last second, the ball falling to Jamie Veale just outside the penalty area, who fired over. Soon after this opportunity, Harris used his pace to trouble the away defence once again down the left side, beating his man before firing inches away from goal. A strong showing in the first-half from the Bluebirds, who were unfortunate not to lead at the interval.
The second round
The visitors flew out of the traps in the second period with half-time substitute Warren Clarke coming close on the half-volley inside two minutes. The young Owls enjoyed their best spell of possession early in the half, but soon found themselves on the back foot once more as Harris responded for the Bluebirds with a testing shot. Tommy O’Sullivan, City’s captain had a fine chance close to the hour mark when the ball fell to him in the area but his low drive was expertly saved by McDonagh.
A deserved breakthrough
On 68 minutes, City finally broke the deadlock when substitute Theo Wharton headed into the roof of the net to convert Matty Kennedy’s corner kick. This opening goal was the least the hosts deserved, after an impressive showing in front of 192 in attendance.
The young Bluebirds didn’t have to wait long to get the second goal when Wharton brilliantly won the ball in the final third, before playing a one-two with long time midfield partner O’Sullivan, scoring low into the bottom left corner to double his and Cardiff City's tally.
It wasn't long before Nicholson's side were celebrating again when Rhys Healey netted, beating McDonagh at the second time of asking after the Owls ‘keeper saved O’Sullivan’s first effort.
The striker, who spent time on loan at Colchester United last season, had another chance went he showed some fine footwork to turn his marker, before firing at just over the crossbar. He then went closer still with a glancing header on 84 minutes.
The future City stars saw out the last minutes of the match, controlling possession to ensure they kept their three goal lead and clean sheet intact.
FINAL SCORE: CARDIFF CITY 3-0 SHEFFIELD WEDNESDAY (Wharton '68 & '74, Healey '76)
Cardiff City: O’Reilly, Barnum-Bobb (Rees, 79), Abbruzzese, Patten, Ajayi, Watkins, Kennedy, Veale (Wharton, 63), Healey, O’Sullivan ©, Harris (Roche, 86). Subs Not Used: Blaise, Coughlan.
Sheffield Wednesday: McDonagh, Booker, Wildin (Centano, 68), Edge (Clarke, 45), Dehaviland, Beatson, Stobbs, Wright (Brown, 77), Hirst, Meadows, Penney. Subs Not Used: Wallis, Duffy.