FA Youth Cup Report | Crewe Alexandra 3-4 Cardiff City
Cardiff City’s U18 side progressed through to the FA Youth Cup Fourth Round after holding their nerve in a seven-goal thriller against Crewe Alexandra at Mornflake Stadium.
City came into the game on the back of excellent league form, sitting top of their PDL South group. The young Bluebirds had four players return from U21 duty last time out, whilst 16-year-old Alyas Debono was recalled to the U18 squad for the first time since the start of October.
Steve Jenkins' side made a bright start to proceedings, opening the scoring after ten minutes. Luey Giles' overlap on the left hand side led to a spill from the Crewe keeper, with Cole Fleming in the right place to tap home.
However, Fleming’s early goal was cancelled out by Crewe’s Matus Holicek one minute later.
An end-to-end battle continued for the rest of the first half, with some brilliant saves from Jake Dennis and possession being built from centre-back Morgan Lewis showing signs of positivity for the Bluebirds.
Japhet Mpadi got his first of the evening just before the hour mark, finding the bottom corner from 25 yards on the counter-attack to restore the Bluebirds' lead.
City looked to have put the game to bed when Lewys Ware created a carbon copy of Mpadi’s goal ten minutes later, giving the Bluebirds a 3-1 lead with just over 20 minutes to play.
The Alex continued fighting, and a headed goal from close range by Marquise Martins closed the gap with a quarter of an hour left on the clock.
In the latter stages, Mpadi scoring a well worked second to give City the advantage once again. Neat play between Will Spiers and Morgan Wigley down the right flank allowed Mpadi to coolly complete his brace.
The Railwaymen’s Holicek once again pulled one back with two minutes on the clock, before the final two reinforcements were able to see the game out for City with some crucial last ditch defending.
The Bluebirds will now face Oxford United in the Fourth Round of the competition in January 2023.
FINAL SCORE: CREWE ALEXANDRA 3–4 CARDIFF CITY
Crewe Alexandra: Flint, Bhatti, Sant (Woodcock 59’), Nolan, Kempster-Down, Crolla, Agius (Allport 70’), Lunt ©, Martins (Jatta 90’), Holicek, Webster.
Subs not used: Ziglam, Robinson, Williams, Vincent.
Cardiff City: Dennis, Spiers, Giles (Mpadi 38’) , Lewis ©, Debono, Kenniford, Fleming, Ware, Wigley, Jefferies (George 90+4'), Nyakuhwa (Biancheri 88’).
Subs not used: T. Jones, Thomas, Coomer, Twose.
Head Coach Steve Jenkins commented: “To come to Crewe and win 4-3 is a great result. We probably dropped a little bit below the standards we’ve set ourselves up to this point, but having said that, it was a terrific effort from the boys to find a way to win.
“I'm really happy with Alyas Debono - every time he’s stepped up now he’s getting stronger. It’s great for Japhet Mpadi too to come on and really make an impact getting his two goals after some time out. He’ll be delighted and hopefully give him that confidence to kick on in the new year.
“They’ll have a well earned few days off now. They need to rest up then re-focus for a really busy January period with games to fit in so that will be good. They’ll be exposed to a Saturday-Tuesday-Saturday routine.”
Following the game, Mpadi explained what the win meant on his return to the under-18 side.
“It was good to come on and create an impact for the team after six-weeks out.” He began. “Despite not showing the best performance, we did well to fight and hold onto the win.
“It felt good being out there again with the lads. I think hopefully I’ve set a marker now by getting two goals and helping contribute to a team performance and a win.
“It’s different to a league game, there’s more pressure - you have to win or you’re out, there’s no second chances. A cup run is what everyone is hoping for, it’s the dream, really. I think with the lads we’ve got, it’s definitely possible, but we just have to keep working hard.”