U21 Match Report | Cardiff City 0-1 Millwall
Cardiff City’s U21 side were narrowly defeated by the Lions on Tuesday afternoon.
City started a youthful lineup, featuring several First Year Scholars including Dakarai Mafico and Alyas Debono.
The young Bluebirds found themselves under pressure from the visitors early on as Millwall searched for an early lead. However, early attempts were foiled as both Jake Dennis and Freddie Cook put in some great blocks and saves to keep scores level early on.
While City were limited to attacking on the counter in earlier phases of play, the challenge grew at the quarter-hour mark, as Debono for sent off for a heavy challenge on the half-way line.
Millwall looked to capitalise on the advantage straight afterwards, as Tom Leahy sent a low cross flying across the face of goal, though the pass went unmet and out for a goal kick.
While the hosts held their shape for much of the remainder of the first half, the visitors managed to put themselves ahead with a few moments remaining ahead of the interval.
Leahy’s header from close range got beyond the reach of Dennis, breaking the deadlock late in the first half.
City began the second half looking rejuvenated as they quickly went looking for an equaliser. Tanatswa Nyakuhwa’s cut-back shot from ten yards out flew inches over the crossbar early on, with the young Bluebirds passing quickly and with attacking intent, pressing aggressively when out of possession.
Another notable chance for City occurred not long afterwards, as Dakarai Mafico linked up terrifically from the left-hand side of City’s back line. Bursting forward with the ball at his feet, he made his way into the box before crossing to Japhet Matondo, whose initial shot was blocked. Winning the ball back, Mafico drew the foul near the goal line, winning City a free-kick in a good position.
Tom Leahy sent an effort high and wide with 15 minutes remaining, striking with his first touch from a low cross.
The Bluebirds were given one final chance with a few minutes of the match remaining, as Tanatswa Nyakuhwa was brought down inside the Millwall area. However, ‘keeper Ethan Wady went the right way with Nyakuhwa’s strike, and saved to deny the late equaliser.
Despite a battling performance, the youthful Bluebirds were narrowly defeated in Leckwith by the more experienced Millwall side.
FULL-TIME | CARDIFF CITY 0-1 MILLWALL
Cardiff City: Dennis, Spiers, Mafico, Edwards, Debono, Cook, Kenniford, Barton, Johnson, Matondo, Nyakuhwa. Subs: Thomas, Perrett, George, Kpakio, Phillips.
Following the final whistle, U21 Coach Matthew Bloxham - who led the Bluebirds throughout the encounter - reflected on the performance.
"When you look at the bigger picture, we've given experiences to a lot of First Year Scholars," began Matthew. "Coming into the team today against the PDL's top team at the moment, it was always going to be difficult, and that was compounded after a good start by the red card.
"We asked our players to show bravery on the ball and compete out of possession against physically superior and more experienced players. I thought that we stayed in the game and created moments, and we really had a go later on after we made some changes.
"We created the opportunity and had the penalty, which unfortunately we didn't take today, but it's a learning curve for the players and hopefully one that they can take on further from this experience.:"