Cardiff City's U21 development side continued their impressive run of late, defeating fellow in-form side Colchester United, 3-2, at Leckwith Stadium.
The Bluebirds went into this match four points and one place behind their opponents in third spot, with a game in hand. It was Kevin Nicholson's men who started the stronger team, taking the lead nine minutes into the match. Rhys Healey with some clever movement to evade his chasing defender, before firing across Colchester 'keeper James Bransgrove. Healey's low shot looked destined to nestle into the bottom corner, with Theo Wharton ensuring the ball hit the back of the net at close range, with away defenders readying to clear Healey's attempt.
The two teams traded blows in the first half of a competitive game. Colchester's Jack Curtis testing Luke O'Reilly in the Cardiff goal after quarter-of-an-hour while the lively duo of Healey and Wharton looked to double City's advantage at the other end.
The away side will have been delighted to go in level at the break, and they achieved this in some style. Charley Edge with a superb dipping free kick with just a minute remaining in the first period, beating O'Reilly low to his left.
John McGreal's side went one step further just minutes into the second half, taking the initiative and the lead after the restart. Dangerous striker Femi Akinwande with a superb run and low finish to put Colchester ahead.
Unperturbed by this set back, the young Bluebirds immediately went on the attack with central defensive duo Jordan Blaise and Rollin Menayese both going close on the 50 minute mark. Blaise's initial header was cleared off the U's goal-line, with Menayese's follow up going just wide of the mark. Nicholson's men didn't have to wait too long for their levelling goal though, Kadeem Harris firing past Bransgrove on 61 minutes to level this tightly poised match.
With 20 minutes to go, former U's loanee Healey looked to have been fouled inside the penalty area only for referee Mark Russell to wave away the Cardiff appeals. Just two minutes later though, and the Bluebirds were rightly awarded a spot kick as David Tutonda was felled. Healey stepped up, and while Bransgrove got a hand to the shot from 12-yards, he couldn't keep out Healey's effort - this goal a deserved reward for the young City striker after a fine showing throughout.
Although Colchester pressured in the final few moments, they were unable to breach the young Cardiff defence for a third time. City recording an important win in this Professional Development League Two South match that moves them to within three points of the top two.
FINAL SCORE: CARDIFF CITY 3-2 COLCHESTER UNITED (Wharton 9', Harris 61', Healey 73'; Edge 44', Akinwande 48')
Cardiff City: O'Reilly, Rees, Blaise (Baker, 66), R. Menayese, Tutonda, Patten (Humphries, 90), Veale, Southam, Wharton (Bird, 66), Healey, Harris. Subs Not Used: Wakeman, Abbruzzese.
Colchester United: Bransgrove, Vincent-Young, O'Donaghue (Wilson, 66), Harrison (McKeown, 76), James, Olufemi, Sembie-Ferris, Bailey (Deadfield, 45), Akinwande, Edge, Curtis. Subs Not Used: Pollard.
.Cardiff City Player HD on Monday - highlights from all U21 matches can be found on Ipswich Town's U21 side also defeated Cardiff City