U21 Match Report | Cardiff City 2-1 Reading
Cardiff City U21 impressed as they got back to winning ways at Cardiff International Sports Stadium with a 2-1 win over Reading in the Professional Development League.
Tom Davies and Jack Leahy were on target for City to secure the win in a performance which featured solid defending against the Royals.
A nicely worked move inside the first three minutes saw a cross from the left hand side get through the City box where Basil Tuma’s header was sent over the bar from close range.
A dangerous chance six minutes in as Reading won a free kick on the edge of the Bluebirds’ box. However, Rashawn Scott couldn’t successfully negotiate the wall.
After struggling to find much of the ball in the opening ten minutes of the fixture, Darren Purse’s men upped their intensity all over the pitch, giving their all to create chances through interceptions and latching onto loose passes.
After a slow start to the match, City’s best attack of the opening half came on 21 minutes through a clever overlap from James Crole, who was utilised by Caleb Hughes before coming across his man smartly. Tom Davies was there at the near post to flick Crole’s smart low cross into the back of the net to open the scoring.
Moments after the goal, the Bluebirds looked to double their lead, Crole once again down the right hand side playing through Isaac Jefferies for a two-on-two attack, though his first time effort flew narrowly over the bar.
Following the opener, Reading looked to open up more as they sought their equaliser before the interval. A chance came from nothing when a long ball was misjudged by Matt Turner, but the 'keeper made up for his error, doing enough to send Tuma’s shot wide from a tight angle.
Rishawn Scott came close to a visitors’ equaliser once again when he was able to send a bending effort off the underside of the crossbar from 25 yards.
City’s impressive first half defending continued late into the half when the Royals' final chance of the half was once again dealt with by the backline’s last ditch defending, led by Xavier Benjamin.
Noel Hunt’s Reading side once again had the most of the ball in the opening minutes of the second half, a quickly taken corner leading to a chance for Louie Holzman who fired into the side netting.
The Royal’s search for an equaliser continued into the hour mark when Claudio Osorio had his first chance of the game but once again the City defence remained strong and defended the six-yard area.
Counter-attacking play was demonstrated successfully on 74 minutes when Crole released a fresh Morgan Wigley from the bench, beating the defenders before leaving a two-on-one chance. Wigley deserved the plaudits as he cut inside to lay off to Leahy to score his second of the season into an empty net.
The Bluebirds’ two-goal lead didn’t last long, however. Reading broke forward to pull a goal back when substitute Adrian Akande beat the hosts’ centre back pairing to slot home on 79 minutes.
As the clock wound down past 90 minutes Jahmari Clarke kicked out at Cameron Antwi with a late challenge for which he was shown a straight red card.
FINAL SCORE: CARDIFF CITY 2–1 READING
Cardiff City: Turner, Semenyo, T. Davies, Clay (Kristiensen 75’), Benjamin ©, Antwi, Jefferies (Wigley 66’), J. Colwill, Crole, Leahy, Hughes (Kenniford 75’). Subs not used: Macnamara, Thomas.
Reading: Boyce-Clarke, Abdel Salam, Leavy, Senga, Holzman ©, Kanu, Camara, Scott, Clarke, Osorio, Tuma (Akande 64’). Subs not used: Tambang, Rowley, Green, Campbell.
Following the match, City U21 head coach Darren Purse reflected on the performance of the young Bluebirds.
"The first half was good despite us showing them too much respect early on," Purse began. "Once we stepped on them and put more pressure on we got on top and we deserved to go into the break one up.
"Coming into the second half it was a complete opposite to at their place when they dominated the first half and, but as always there’s plenty to work on; plenty of positives and negatives.
"I was happy with our resilience, a small mistake got them back into the game and I think we can struggle managing games whether in front or behind, but that’s all about development.’
"We were looking to play with a bit more possession but they pressed higher and we have to deal with that, which is disappointing. With people like James Crole and Morgan Wigley up top, and Jack Leahy playing in the pocket they can hit teams on the break with their pace and I was happy with the composure Morgan showed as did Jack to finish it off."