U21 Match Report | Cardiff City 4-3 Swansea City
Cardiff City produced a remarkable 4-3 win over South Wales rivals Swansea City at Cardiff International Sports Stadium in the Professional Development League.
A first half brace from James Crole was later added to by a goal from Isaac Jefferies and a stunning late winner from Jack Leahy to secure victory for the young Bluebirds against the 10-man Swans.
City made three changes from their win over Reading last week, with Joel Bagan coming in at left back for last week’s goalscorer Tom Davies. Jac Clay and Jefferies also made way for Sebastian Kristensen and Ollie Tanner.
After an end-to-end start, Crole beat the offside trap for a a one-on-one with Remy Mitchell in the Swansea goal, and, with all the time in the world, calmly slotted into the top corner for his third goal of the season, giving Darren Purse’s men the advantage inside 10 minutes.
After 21 minutes, Joel Colwill intercepted a sloppy pass from the Swans midfield and played a through ball to Crole, who got the first touch ahead of the keeper to take the ball away from goal.
Mitchell rushed out and clumsily brought the striker down, giving away a spot-kick. Crole doubled his goal tally and City’s lead, slotting the spot kick into the bottom left-hand corner.
The referee awarded another penalty just three minutes later, after a quickly-taken corner caught the hosts by surprise, and a shot struck Xavier Benjamin’s arm inside the area.
Joel Cotterill converted the penalty off the inside of the post, but the events which followed overshadowed the Swans’ goal. Josh Thomas was instantly dismissed for hitting out at Matthew Turner in the City net, following a coming together immediately after the goal.
However, despite their numerical disadvantage, Swansea were able to score a second before the break, Wasiri Williams, who had missed a free header earlier in the first half, rose highest from a corner to head past Turner and level the game at 2-2.
Lincoln McFayden had a chance to give the visitors the lead on the brink of half-time, though Turner did well to keep out his initial effort. The ball rebounded back to McFayden off the crossbar, but his first touch sent the ball over the bar with an empty net just six yards ahead of him.
After the interval, Williams gave Swansea the perfect start to the second half, netting his second goal of the afternoon from another corner on 52 minutes. Rising highest at the back post from a Ben Lloyd corner, the defender nodded home to give the visitors the lead.
With several new faces coming off the City bench, the Bluebirds were able to get back into the contest later in the half. Isaac Jefferies made an instant impact after coming onto the pitch; Colwill continued his gritty performance in midfield by winning the ball back and fed Jack Leahy, who sent a brilliant through ball into the fresh legs of Jefferies.
The forward made no mistake with his finish, calmly sending the ball into the bottom corner to level the game at 3-3.
With 10 minutes left on the clock and tension rising, Wales youth internationals Cotterill and Lloyd combined for the Swans in a chance to take the lead again, but Turner made another good save to prevent a potential Swansea winner.
With four minutes remaining, Leahy added to his earlier assist with a moment of brilliance. Good pressure from Morgan Wigley allowed City to regain the ball, and, with a yard of space ahead of him outside the area, Leahy found the top corner with his curling effort from 25 yards to give the Bluebirds lead.
At the end of an entertaining encounter, the final whistle signalled that the South Wales derby spoils would stay in the Welsh capital, with the U21 side joining their U18 and Women counterparts in sealing victory over the Swans this season.
U21 FINAL SCORE: CARDIFF CITY 4–3 SWANSEA CITY
Cardiff City: Turner, Semenyo, Bagan (Davies 59’), Kristensen (Wigley 66’), Benjamin ©, Antwi, Tanner (Jefferies 66’), J. Colwill, Crole, Leahy, Hughes (Conte 59’). Subs not used: Dennis.
Swansea City: Mitchell, Joe Thomas, Williams, Abdulai, Cooper ©, Ogbeta, Whittaker, Cotterill, Josh Thomas, Lloyd, McFayden. Subs not used: Jones, Hughes, Wilson, Bony, Ludvigsen.