A superb Jamie Bird hat-trick helped Cardiff City U18 side to a 5-0 victory over Crystal Palace at Cardiff International Sports Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
The game started at a frantic pace with both James Waite and Mark Harris testing the Palace ‘keeper Oliver Patin early on. The visitors responded in the 14th minute with a chance of their own as Francis Baptiste’s low shot was comfortably held by Luke Wakeman in the Cardiff goal.
Jamie Bird broke the deadlock in spectacular fashion for the hosts, placing a free-kick perfectly into the top corner from the edge of the area, to give Cardiff the advantage inside the opening twenty minutes.
Striker Elvis Menayese couldn’t have gone much closer with his header from a corner in the 23rd minute as he clipped the outside of the post. Shot stopper Wakeman was then on hand to maintain the advantage as he dived at the feet of striker Baptiste with the City defence on hand to clear the rebound.
The next action came towards the end of the half, after an incident free period of play, when neat interchange down the City right saw winger Harris just miss front man Menayese’s pull back; and Waite’s follow up effort was blocked. This meant Bird’s free-kick was the difference at the interval.
A NEAR PERFECT SECOND-HALF
Immediately from kick-off, City charged forward and star man Bird struck a beauty of a shot into the top corner to double his and City’s tally. The pacey Harris then went close as he drove at the Palace back line; his driven shot was saved as he was shielded wide.
Things got better for City as James Waite tapped home Aidan Chappell-Smith’s pull back to make it three without reply. All of this action coming within the first ten minutes of the second period.
Lloyd Humphries then had a try from distance but his curling effort was held by Patin. It wasn't all Cardiff's way though, Wakeman was called into action once more as he parried Baptiste’s header. Fellow number nine Menayese also had a header saved from a corner, this time for the hosts.
Bird rounded off a fantastic individual display by securing the match ball. He finished a fabulous flowing counter attack by smashing the ball home from 18 yards. Substitute Ibi So Sani then made an instantaneous impact as he fired home from close range to finish of the scoring, securing a fine start to 2016 for the young Bluebirds in their first competitive match since the festive period.
FINAL SCORE: CARDIFF CITY 5-0 CRYSTAL PALACE
Cardiff City: Wakeman, Coxe (Kelly ’78), Abruzzese, Humphries, R.Menaysese, Young (Williams ’65), Harris, Waite, E.Menayese, Bird, Chappell-Smith (So Sani ’83). Subs Not Used: Coughlan, Parry.
Crystal Palace: Patin, Hossanah, Sturgess (Akiotu ’60), Phillips, Jalen, Woods, Wmeca, Bennett (Yeboah ’60), Baptiste, Flanagan, Lakilo. Subs Not Used: Macaden, Hogan, Omrore.