U23 Match Report | Cardiff City 0-2 Ipswich Town
Cardiff City's U23 side fell to a 2-0 home defeat on Tuesday, as Ipswich Town's two second-half goals proved the difference in a competitive PDL clash.
After several weeks away from league action, the Bluebirds fielded a youthful starting lineup, including U18 players James Crole, Tom Davies and Josh Rippon.
Captaining City from the heart of their defence was Oliver Denham, who took the captain's armband from James Connolly following his departure for a loan spell at Bristol Rovers last week.
Denham did well throughout the opening passages of play, keeping the visitors' early attacks at bay with a series of intelligent interceptions and tackles.
Without any major chances for either team in the opening 15 minutes, play slowed a little following an intense start. The newly-returned Sam Bowen - who was lively in the middle of the park - had the first big chance of the day, though his smart lobbed effort went just too high and over the crossbar.
Keenan Patten had a brace of quickfire opportunities on goal, though his distanced shot went wide along with a good header that he won from a corner-kick.
Crole's hard work also very nearly paid off in the final minutes of the first half. The striker was played through beautifully by Patten, and though his shot in a one-on-one beat 'keeper Antoni Bort, the ball cannoned off the near post.
Following the interval, Ipswich Town upped the pressure from the off, as George Ratcliffe was called upon twice in quick succession to deny the visitors. The 'keeper firstly left his area to make a crucial intervention, later diving to stop a low curled effort in its tracks.
Cameron Humphreys took the lead on the hour mark, striking from the edge of the area. Though Ratcliffe got fingertips to the shot, the ball found its way in at the far post, putting City behind.
Calls for a penalty kick for City were waved away minutes later, after James Crole was seemingly brought down inside the area, having broken through on goal.
With ten minutes left, Bailey Clements doubled the lead with a strike from inside the area. Despite City's attempts at a late comeback, they were unable to get on the scoresheet against the visitors, and were defeated at home for the first time this season.
U23 FINAL SCORE: CARDIFF CITY 0-2 IPSWICH TOWN
Cardiff City: Ratcliffe, Jones, T. Davies, Denham, Bakare, Rippon, D'Almeida, King (Colwill 71'), Crole, Patten, Bowen (Jefferies 46'). Subs not used: Coomer, Luthra, Kenniford.
Ipswich Town: Bort, Andoh, Stewart, Armin (Smith 89'), Clements, Humphreys, Alexander, Ward, Morris, Siziba (Curtis 71'), Yengi (Hughes 53'). Subs not used: Ridd, Agbaje.
Following the final whistle, U23s Manager Darren Purse discussed the result to his first match in charge:
"First of all, I'm disappointed with the result," began Purse. "However, there are positives to be taken from the match.
"Keenan Patten was excellent in the game. It was always going to be a match of fine margins, and I thought that in the first half we had the better of the chances.
"They struck us with their first on the counter, and I think they stepped onto it a little better than us in the second half. We had that penalty decision that went against us at 1-1 too, so of course it's disappointing to lose.
"There is plenty to work on, with plenty of positives to look at. It's all about developing the players and getting them ready for their next steps.
"We had a lot of U18 players involved today, so from that point of view it's great to see them have that opportunity. It was a tough game against a good side, and ultimately what's happened in the final third for both sides is what's affected the result today."