U23 Match Report | Cardiff City 4-0 Watford
Cardiff City’s U23 side scored four goals and kept a clean sheet in a comfortable win over Watford in the Professional Development League at Cardiff International Sports Stadium.
Max Watters’ second consecutive brace, along with goals from Mark Harris and Jonny Williams, plus a penalty save from Alex Smithies – helped the Bluebirds to three points.
U23 HIGHLIGHTS | CARDIFF CITY 4-0 WATFORD
Steve Morison made six changes from last time out as Taylor Jones, Smithies, Junior Hoilett, Lee Tomlin, Williams and Harris started.
City got off to a strong start, full of attacking intent and opened the scoring after five minutes. 22-year-old Harris poked into the net at close range.
The hosts looked very threatening in forward play and almost netted a second just seven minutes later. Winger Hoilett’s powerful cross took a deflection and almost snuck in at the near post.
Cardiff City were awarded a free-kick on the edge of the area with two minutes of the opening 45 remaining. Playmaker Tomlin stepped up and looped the ball over the wall, but it bounced out off the top of the crossbar.
The home side did score a second goal in the final play of the first-half. 21-year-old Watters produced individual brilliance to sprint from the halfway line with the ball and through on goal, before superbly finding the far bottom corner on the turn.
After the interval, the Bluebirds were quick off the mark and nearly added a third inside the second period’s opening minute. Forward Harris’ excellent effort was brilliantly saved by Dante Baptiste.
City scored a deserved third goal after 55 minutes. Striker Watters touched the ball into the back of the net from Tomlin’s free-kick delivery.
The Hornets were offered a chance to reduce their deficit to two goals with a penalty, two minutes past the hour mark. Tiago Cukur struck the ball towards the bottom corner, but stopper Smithies pulled off a great save to keep his side’s three-goal lead.
Cardiff City responded by finding a fourth goal just two minutes later. Welsh international Williams produced a composed finish under pressure, gaining his first goal in a Bluebirds shirt.
The hosts neared a fifth with 66 minutes played. Looking for a brace, Harris headed just wide in front of goal as the Bluebirds maintained their attacking pressure.
Despite both sides hunting for the next goal, another did not come and the Bluebirds took the well-earned three points.
U23 FINAL SCORE: CARDIFF CITY 4-0 WATFORD
Cardiff City: Smithies, Pritchard, Martin, Bowen, Jones, Bodenham, Watters, Tomlin (Kavanagh 63’), Harris, Hoilett, Williams. Subs not used: Stewart, Mayembe, Idowu.
Cardiff City’s U23 Coach Steve Morison and Sam Bowen shared their thoughts at Cardiff International Sports Stadium following City’s strong display and 4-0 win over Watford.
“It was great to get the win,” began Steve following the final whistle. “Our U23 players can learn so much from the game and that’s the best thing because we had a very strong team, especially going forward and we should be winning that match anyway.
“We’re really pleased to get the result, keep a clean sheet and score four goals. It was a really good afternoon.”
Sam Bowen was pleased with the victory and noted playing with six First Team players as being beneficial. He added: “It was a really good win. We all worked hard and our quality shone through in the end. There was a great mixture of players and for us youngsters to play with such experienced pros was a terrific experience. We’ll look to keep climbing that table and hopefully get a Play-Off spot.”