Bishop Returns as U23s Draw With Cardiff
Monday, 5th Nov 2018 15:17
Teddy Bishop played 45 minutes as the Blues’ table-topping U23s extended their unbeaten run to 11 games by drawing 2-2 at home to Cardiff City, Town finding the net via a Ciaron Brown own goal and Ben Folami.
The Blues started brightly and Bishop, back in the side after his recent hamstring setback and in a midfield three with Idris El Mizouni and skipper Shane McLoughlin, saw a cross from the right cut out ahead of Kai Brown.
After a scrappy spell, right-back Barry Cotter, returning after recent spells out due to injury and illness, scuffed a shot well wide from distance on 13 and a minute later Town went in front.
After good work from Bishop, Jack Lankester and El Mizouni exchanged passes on the right of the box as the forward, on the right of a front three with Folami on the left and Brown down the centre, broke into the area. Lankester crossed low and Cardiff defender Ciaron Brown diverted past his own keeper.
However, the Bluebirds levelled in the 25th minute. A James Waite freekick from the left beat Toto Nsiala - the only senior player not on the way back from injury involved - and was met behind him by the unmarked Jack Bodenham, who headed back past keeper Harry Wright and into the net.
Town looked to restore their lead and on 28 El Mizouni found Brown on the edge of the box with a clever ball but the ex-Grays Athletic man shot over.
But a minute later, Cardiff went in front. Chris Smith, partnering Nsiala at the heart of the defence, lost control of a bouncing ball just outside the area and lunged in late on James Babatomiwo.
Referee Robert Whitton played a good advantage with the ball having reached Waite on the left of the box from where he hit a shot which deflected over the advancing Wright and under the bar. Smith was booked as the players lined up for the restart.
El Mizouni saw a shot blocked on 36, then six minutes later Brown had a good chance to grab an equaliser when Bishop’s freekick from the right reached him beyond the far post but Bluebirds keeper Matt Hall saved.
The half-time whistle went with Town not having threatened again and with Cardiff finishing the period the stronger side.
The Blues had just about shaded what had been a scrappy half having gained the lead until they rather gifted the visitors their two goals.
Having gone in front, Cardiff looked a more confident outfit, although Brown might have levelled for Town with his chance not long before half-time.
Bishop was replaced at half-time by Brett McGavin, presumably a planned change with the 22-year-old playing his first game after his latest spell out injured.
The academy product, watched by manager Paul Lambert and fitness coach Jim Henry, had shown glimpses of what won him a regular place in the side in the 2014/15 play-off season, and was involved in the goal, but looks like he’ll need a couple more U23s games before being considered for inclusion in the first team.
Left-back Bailey Clements scraped a shot from a tight angle to Cardiff keeper Hall seven minutes after the restart, then a minute later Lankester played a superb reverse pass into the path of Brown but a defender got across to slide the ball out for a corner.
Town had been second best since the restart but in the 68th minute they levelled. McLoughlin reached a loose ball ahead of keeper Hall and played inside to Brown, who turned against the post from 12 yards with a defender closing in.
The ball bounced out to Folami, just back from playing with Australian at the AFC U19 Championship in Indonesia, who tapped home.
Having got back on terms, the young Blues finally began to play with a spring in their step. On 70 Brown played a clever ball into Lankester’s path but the striker’s shot was saved by Hall down to his right.
Town were now starting to dominate and only a brilliant save from Hall denied El Mizouni from finding the top corner with a great strike from 25 yards. On 75 Lankester shot well wide from McLoughlin’s cut-back.
Cardiff began to threaten again at the other end and on 77 Cameron Coxe hit a well-struck shot which was blocked.
Corrie Ndaba replaced Clements for the final nine minutes, then a minute later Cardiff sub Lloyd Humphries nearly won it with a superb effort from 30 yards out which beat Wright but slammed against his left post.
At the other end, McLoughlin worked himself space before shooting over, prior to Wright doing very well to save Tyrone Duffus’s 87th minute header down to his right.
Soon after, Nsiala and Smith both narrowly missed a freekick coming in from the left but with the linesman’s flag raised.
The young Blues were unable to threaten again before the final whistle and a draw was a fair result with Gerard Nash’s side only fleetingly showing the sparkling form which has taken them to the top of the division.
Lankester was the stand-out performer, the 18-year-old having been a thorn in Cardiff’s side down the right throughout, while his set pieces were always dangerous. El Mizouni continued his impressive start to the season in midfield.
With Millwall losing 2-0 at Crystal Palace and QPR climbing above the Lions into second via a 1-1 draw with Coventry, Town’s U23s increase their lead at the top of the Professional Development League Two South to five points.
Among those watching were first-teamers Cole Skuse and Matthew Pennington with the senior squad not training today having trained at Playford Road yesterday.
U23s: Wright, Cotter, Clements (Ndaba 81), McLoughlin (c), C Smith, Nsiala, Bishop, (McGavin 46) El Mizouni, K Brown, Folami, Lankester. Unused: Marshall, Egan, Dobra.
Cardiff: Hall, McKay (Pryce 72), Coxe, Duffus, Brown, Bodenham, Wootton, Veale (c), Babatomiwo (Humphries 51), Waite, Evans. Unused: Burwood, Martin. Referee: Robert Whitton.
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