U21 Match Report | Cambrian & Clydach Vale vs. Cardiff City
Cardiff City’s U21 side secured their place in the Second Round of the Nathaniel MG Cup on Friday night following a dramatic finale to a tense match in Clydach Vale.
The Bluebirds found themselves quickly under pressure from the hosts, who pressed when in possession and took their lead with seven minutes played. Tim Parker headed home from a good cross past the reach of Jake Dennis, putting Cambrian ahead with their first big chance of the evening.
End to end action followed the opener, with City swiftly chasing the lead. Morgan Wigley and James Crole paired well up top for the young Bluebirds, with City eager to utilise their pace whenever space was created.
As the half continued, Wigley created City’s first clear-cut chance for the visitors, bursting into the area before unleashing a powerful shot which was tipped onto the post, with Cian Ashford only able to hit his rebounded effort high.
The visitors deserved their goal when it came around the half-hour mark, though the nature of the equaliser was fortunate for City. Ashford’s low cross was met by an unsuspecting Cambrian defender, whose touch sent the ball over the goal line and drew the Bluebirds back level.
Completing their comeback, City took the lead as the first half entered injury time. Ashford, again key to the goal, was at the end of a swift City counter-attack which began with Jake Dennis bravely leaping to claim a cross inside his area. Isaac Jefferies received Dennis’ thrown pass, catching the hosts off-guard before Ashford was able to break into the area and dispatch clinically.
Holding out throughout the second half, the Bluebirds worked well to keep possession and minimise chances for the hosts on the counter. Caleb Hughes’ free-kick gave City their biggest chance of the half, as he struck well from 25 yards, only for the ‘keeper to get fingertips to the effort and send it out for a corner-kick.
With 15 minutes left, Cambrian threatened with a series of good chances made. Their greatest saw the ball shot towards the far post, where Josh Beecher instinctively pulled off a terrific goal line clearance to keep City ahead, rightly earning congratulations from his ‘keeper.
The hosts drew level with moments remaining, as Ceri Morgan’s cross went unmet and rolled in at the far post. Unable to respond, the match went straight to penalties.
Winning the shoot-out provided more late drama, as City came back to win after missing two of their first three efforts. Drawing it into sudden death, Will Spiers’ strike proved enough to secure his side’s place in Round Two, as the hosts failed to find the back of the net.
With a youthful U21 side – featuring a number of first and second-year scholars throughout a competitive match in Clydach Vale, the young Bluebirds secured their place in the Second Round of the Nathaniel MG Cup.
FINAL SCORE: CAMBRIAN & CLYDACH VALE 2-2 (3-4 on penalties) CARDIFF CITY
Following the penalty shootout, U21s Manager Darren Purse discussed his side’s performance:
“Whether you win, lose or draw, it’s all about the learning experience,” began Darren. “The reason that we’ve entered this competition is that we enjoy that it means that the boys now have a game that they have to play to win.
“By hook or by crook, we’ve walked away with a win. In penalties anything can happen and it’s a flip of a coin. Some of the boys had never played in front of a crowd before, and you could tell from early on. We didn’t deal with a lot of what we were up against early on, but giving credit to the boys, in the second half we were a lot better. That’s the learning curve of it.
“There’s lots of things that we need to work on, and lots of positives to take from tonight. Whatever would have come from tonight, we knew it would be a brilliant experience for the boys.”