U21 Match Report | Cardiff City 2-1 Barnsley
Cardiff City's U21 side earned their first victory of the league campaign with an impressive 2-1 victory over Barnsley on Friday afternoon.
In front of a crowd of home supporters at CCS, City took the lead twice during the second half to eventually claim all three point son offer, with Cian Ashford scoring before assisting Freddie Cook's winner late on in the Welsh capital.
The visitors were quick to impose themselves on the match throughout the early moments of play, and threatened early on when a shot from close range put 'keeper Jake Dennis under pressure. Dennis impressed, however, by blocking the shot at point-blank range, tipping the ball over the crossbar and out for a corner-kick.
Moments later, Daniel Barton made a brace tackle at the edge of the City area, sliding in to dispossess the visitors right as they encroached upon entering the box. Making the right connection, Barton quickly took the ball and began a counter-attack.
Cian Ashford and Morgan Wigley combined well throughout, playing well off each other to create a series of chances before the end of the opening 45 minutes. At the other end, Freddie Cook and Dylan Lawlor put in solid defensive work, putting their bodies on the line to deny more shots and keep the visitors at bay.
Following the interval, City struck nearly right away as Ashford scored a goal worthy of his performance. The forward was played through with a chipped pass, and headed it downwards before striking home on the half-volley, putting the hosts ahead.
While the visitors levelled five minutes later, an energised City side turned the run of play against the Tykes, with substitute Will Spiers making a number of mazy runs ending in the final third, creating numerous chances for the hosts.
Ashford added an assist to his goal in the final few minutes of play, as his perfectly-weighted corner-kick found the head of Cook, who headed home powerfully without breaking a stride in his run.
Holding on for the remainder, City deservedly came away the victors following a match-defining second-half display at CCS.
FINAL SCORE: CARDIFF CITY 2-1 BARNSLEY
Cardiff City: Dennis, Semenyo (Spiers 46'), Beecher, Lawlor, Cook, Giles (Johnson 75'), Ashford, Barton, Wigley (Crole 66'), Nyakuhwa, Twose (Mafico 81'). Subs not used: Thomas.
Following the final whistle, U21s coach Matthew Bloxham - who led the young Bluebirds during the match - discussed the performance at CCS:
“I’m delighted with the performance,” began Matthew. “We started with six U18 players today, so it was a really young U21 side, and they’ve gone and done everything that we’ve asked them to.
"They’ve done it against a more mature team, and in the way that we want to play. We want to try to be more dominant and to impose ourselves on the opposition, regardless of age or experience, and for large periods of the game we did that.
“After the first half, we came in a little disappointed not to be up by a goal, because we did play some really good stuff.
"In the second half, we wanted to be more aggressive in the press and with the ball, to showcase what we’re about. We wanted to go and give the boys the opportunity to play higher up the pitch, and show more threat, and they carried out the game plan well.
“We played with around three formations through 45 minutes, and executed every one of those as we wanted. We’ve got boys stepping up from the U18 side, a First Year Scholar and another player who has joined us after playing for the First Team in the Carabao Cup earlier this week.
"Everyone took responsibility and performed well as a group. We know that if we do that more often throughout the season, then we’ll come away with more positive results.
“Playing in front of a crowd is something that they have to get used to, both when it’s good at home and adverse away. Adapting to that will certainly help with their development, and the Club has allowed us a great opportunity to play at CCS in front of a home crowd.
"Hopefully the fans have walked away today having enjoyed what they saw.”