Cardiff City’s U23 side claimed a point against Severnside rivals Bristol City at Cardiff International Sports Campus on Friday, with Nathaniel Mendez-Laing scoring his second goal in as many games as he stepped up his recovery from injury.
James Waite got proceedings underway for the Bluebirds, but it was the visitors who got the first chance of the game. Joe Morrell latched onto a stray clearance from Lloyd Humphries, but his right-footed strike from outside the area didn’t test Hall, with his attempt drifting over the crossbar.
Jarred Harvey’s side created their first notable chance in the seventh minute, when Nathaniel Mendez-Laing – playing only his second game since returning from injury, picked up a loose ball following a challenge on skipper Loïc Damour. Nathaniel Mendez-Laing then made a powerful run to the edge of the area, before trying his luck from distance, but the attacker’s strike fell just wide of Jojo Wollacott’s goal.
It took the hosts just eighteen minutes to break the deadlock, through the ever-involved Mendez-Laing. It took a trademark stepover from the wide man to beat his Bristol City counterpart on the right-flank, before adjusting his feet to fire home a right-footed low effort, which seemed to take a deflection before finding the back of the net.
The Bluebirds almost doubled their lead just six minutes later, when midfielder James Waite found himself in enough space to attempt an audacious chip over the oncoming Wollacott. His effort looked destined to end up in the Bristol City goal, but it took a last-ditch clearance off the line from Tom Harrison to keep Cardiff City’s lead to a single goal.
Wollacott made two excellent saves in the space of a minute to fend off further pressure from Jarred Harvey’s side, first making a great low save to prevent Tyrone Duffus’ header, and the second to stop James Waite’s attempt following yet another bombarding run.
Duffus was forced off through injury late on, with Jake Evans replacing the midfielder in added time, but Cardiff City played out the remaining minutes of the half and went into the break a goal ahead for their considerable efforts at Cardiff International Sports Campus.
Bristol City opted to make one change at the break, replacing Chris Tuner-Williams with Jayden Ali. Bell got the second-half underway for the visitors, and it was the Robins who went closest early on, Bailey Wright tested Hall with a well-placed header from a corner in the 51st minute. Jazz Richards was brought off just a minute later, with Ryan Pryce taking the place of the Wales international.
Jake Evans was unfortunate not to have doubled City’s lead from distance – the substitute picked the ball up in a central area before unleashing a powerful strike on his right-foot which had Wollacott all but beaten, but the opposing keeper was rescued by the post.
Cardiff City continued to push for a second goal that would all but seal the game. They almost managed to capitalise on an efficient counter attack with seventy-six minutes gone through Jamie Veale – his shot looked set to test the keeper but was deflected away from goal.
For all their considerable efforts, the Bluebirds were handed a massive blow in the 82nd minute. Tom Richard managed to fire past Matt Hall after latching onto a pass from Marcus Day, levelling the scores with just eight minutes left to play.
Cameron Coxe was shown a red card for a late challenge just five minutes later, meaning that the Bluebirds had to see out the remaining few minutes with ten men. Harvey’s side stayed resilient to ensure that they picked up a point to maintain their unbeaten run, with their performance possibly warranting more than a single point.
U23 FINAL SCORE: CARDIFF CITY 1-1 BRISTOL CITY
Cardiff City: Hall, Richards (Pryce 54’), Martin, Humphries, Brown, Bodenham, Mendez-Laing (Veale 63’), Damour (C), Coxe, Waite, Duffus (Evans 45’). Subs not used: Burwood, Evans, Veale, Wootton.
Bristol City: Wollacott, Turner-Williams (Ali 46’), Soady, Hegeler, Harrison, Wright (Webb 75’), Day, Morrell, Rees (Richard 53’), Bell, Pearson. Subs not used: Buse, Williams.