Welsh Youth Cup. Cardiff 0 - 1 Swansea
I usually try not to be too critical when talking about our young players, but it's impossible not to be after suffering last night's game. As I arrived just as the game kicked off and I didn't see any programmes being sold, I am not sure of the identity of some in the City team, but what I do know is they we could still be playing now and we would not have forced the jack's keeper into a half decent save let alone scored!
The winning goal came completely out of the blue, but, even though it meant defeat, I was glad in a way because I had already made up my mind that I wasn't going to bother watching the what seemed inevitable period of extra time.
It was a night where nearly all of the best performances came from defenders - I thought our centrebacks did well (Matthews is a class act and gave a composed display in an unusual position for him) and the jack's right back impressed me.
I see our number 8 Ibi got a fair bit of praise from some who went to the game. It's the second time I have seen him in just over a week and he certainly is a stylish player. Nearly all of the creative play we saw from City came from him, but, like many in the team, he was brushed off the ball easily and he seemed to have trouble staying on his feet in the first half - it also needs to be remembered that we did not create a chance worthy of it's name all night.
Last week I watched many of last night's team give a good account of themselves in drawing with Birmingham's Academy team - last night they were beaten by a jacks team which certainly looked a bit older and more powerful than us, they were also, marginally, the better of two poor sides.
Report from Nigel Blues
It was a strange time to play a game - 7pm on a Sunday evening - but about 600 turned up with City fans at the Grange End of the Grandstand, a small band from Jackland at the Canton End and the Politburo - Ridders, Borley and Jones in the Directors Box.
Even with that meagre crowd, programmes sold out before kick-off so excuse me for not knowing all the names but as both sides lined up for the Welsh national anthem - in near complete silence, a contrast to how it will be at Wembley - it was already apparent that Cardiff's boys were a year or tow younger and an average couple of inches shorter than their Swansea counter-parts.
Swansea were mainly 18 year old and included their hot prospect Joe Allen in midfield. Cardiff, on the other hand, most of their senior Academy products several weeks ago and having already upgraded the likes of Aaron Ramsey and Darcy Blake to the senior were left with a group a year below the Jacks. The most popular player with the crowd - Walshie - was a Swans sub but recently released by Cardiff so warmed up with chants for him to do the ayatollah. The other Swansea subs were warmly greeted with the proverbial "you Jack b******s" by our kids in the crowd.
Employing a strange system that looked like 3-4-2-1, the neater passing and movement generally came from Cardiff but, much like watching the first team recently, City were completely lightweight up front and lack invention or punch in the final third. Swansea, on the other hand, were able to assert themselves going forward with a Big Number 9 who looked half-decent being the focal point of their attacks and Allen able to spray passes.
The closest City came was, perhaps, in the first 15 seconds as a dodgy looking Jack keeper - who almost dropped one mediocre shot into his own net 2nd half - kicked into an onrushing City player with the ball rebounding narrowly wide. City's only other effort at goal that half was an easy save as our Number 8, possibly a Somali player(?) who was the pick of our bench having a fine industrious game in midfield, made space but shot weakly. The half, and game, was characterised by City knocking it about comfortably but powerless to create where it really mattered. City's keeper, the Pole Erwin Sak, showed he has a great pair of hands and a decent boot but could do with a bit more height, much like the rest of our team.
A couple of other City players looked decent. Alun (or Aaron Morris) confirmed the good impression he made on me in the FAW Premier game vs Newport with a decent display as did our left-back James Bloom (son of The Echo's Mark) who looked composed and only played wayward passes late on. One of our boys who went off as first sub also played well. None however gave the impression that were close to the quality needed to join the first-team squad but, I guess, our players have another year or more to prove themselves unlike many of the Swansea contingent.
The game was going nowhere second half, you really couldn't see a goal coming. Cardiff tried to change things with Jon Brown, who has had recent first team experience, and Josh McGinness (our goalkeeper until Sak's arrival in January but now being tried as a forward!). Brown added pace but not much else, McGinness didn't really get much chance to shine.
And so we were set for extra-time, the only decision was whether to stay or whether you'd seen enough when, as the 4 minutes added time started, Swansea sent in an innocuous cross, Sak ran out and missed out in the crowd, the ball hit a Swansea head and rolled almost apologetically into City's unguarded net. In time honoured tradition, the scorer ran towards us doing the "swim away" action while the City crowd bayed what he was back at him. Lovely.
Final whistle went. Swans players celebrated crazy. Cardiff's boys fell to the pitch. We could go home.