Bristol City U21s thrash Cardiff City U21s as Stefan Bajic makes debut in goal

Bristol City U21s vs Cardiff City U21s Bristol City U21s vs Cardiff City U21s
Bristol City U21s vs Cardiff City U21s
Young Robins played a Severnside Derby at a wet High Performance Centre on Tuesday afternoon.

Bristol City U21s’ unbeaten campaign continued with a resounding win over Cardiff City U21s on Tuesday afternoon, 5-0.

After five wins in six this season, the Young Robins may be on course to match their success of last year’s Professional Development League 2 campaign, when they reached the final of the competition for Category 2 academies.

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Young forwards Tommy Backwell and Sam Bell grabbed a brace apiece to see off the local rivals from down the M4, with Antoine Semenyo watching brother Jai playing for the Bluebirds. Dylan Kadji added another from long range in the second half.

Joe Low captained the side again as the rain was persistent, and the hosts inflicted a battering on the second-string side from the Welsh capital.

Tale of the game:

Bristol City threatened early through Sam Bell and Seb Palmer-Holden, with the visitors unable to escape their own third without a strong challenge boxing Darren Purse’s side in.

Stefan Bajic, making a debut, saved Ollie Tanner’s low shot in the first 10 minutes, before the side in blue settled and the former Tottenham Hotspur transfer target soon won a foul in a dangerous area from Wales youth international Harry Leeson.

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Sam Bell then slid a 20-yarder the wrong side of the post following a great tackle by Tommy Backwell, as the rain teemed down.

On 17 minutes the opener: Backwell finished after a great cross from Leeson led to Palmer-Houlden heading against the bar.

Jack Leahy crossed after the hour mark, but Zac Bell, playing centre back intercepted - one of several occasions the on-loan Bath City man successfully leapt forward from the defensive line.

Just before the break it was two as Sam Bell won the ball in the final third, nipping in ahead of Xavier Banjamin, and burst forward to drill in the second at the near post.

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And seconds later the onlookers at the HPC were in raptures as Leeson crossed to Sam Bell for the goal of the game, the 20-year-old turning adroitly and drilling in low.

And there was still time for a fourth to crown the first half, as this time Palmer-Houlden won the ball in the final third, following a poor clearance from opposition goalkeeper Matt Turner, and though Sam Bell could not convert the low cross, Backwell could, after some neat control and a cultured finish that ended with Turner taking the ball into the net with him.

Cardiff City responded with two changes at the break: Tanner and Cameron Antwi replaced by Isaac Jefferies and James Crole. But it was to no avail, as instead Dylan Kadji pushed the score out to five, lashing into the top corner with half an hour left to run.

 Adam Low has stood out for the U21s side of late. Here he is against Birmingham City U21 on August 30. (Credit: Rogan/Fever Pitch) Adam Low has stood out for the U21s side of late. Here he is against Birmingham City U21 on August 30. (Credit: Rogan/Fever Pitch)
Adam Low has stood out for the U21s side of late. Here he is against Birmingham City U21 on August 30. (Credit: Rogan/Fever Pitch)

Sebastian Kristiansen could have seen worse than a yellow card after he slid in high onto Leeson, Low met a corner but Turner saved, and sub Marley Rose put in a delightful cross.

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However, there were no more goals, despite Palmer-Houlden curling just wide from 30 yards. Still, five goals against your local rivals is impressive work, and most certainly qualifies as a battering.

Players who stood out

Zac Bell did well from the centre of defence as Leeson impressed from right wing-back and (grabbing an assist and playing a pivotal role in the opening score), City playing a 3-4-1-2, with Josh Owers on the other flank.

Namesake Sam Bell grabbed two goals in the first half, as attacking midfielder Tommy Backwell did two - and both fully merited their goals, with all three forwards, along with Palmer-Houlden, savaging the Cardiff backline to continually stop the opposition playing out, and winning possession high up the pitch.

France U21s goalkeeper Bajic proved solid on the aerial ball, punching effectively at one point, but with few shots to save bar a close-range Tanner effort early on.

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Joe Low and Callum Wood repelled most opposition attacks and Owers was consistent filling in on the left. Kadji was menace in the middle and capped his performance with a superb smash into the top corner from range, while Omar Taylor-Clarke was a steady presence, recycling possession well and prompting several good passing moves in midfield.

Starting teams:

Bristol City U21s:

Bajic, Leeson, Owers, Wood, Bell, Low, Backwell, Kadji, Bell, Palmer-Houlden, Taylor-Clarke

Cardiff City U21s:

Turner, Semenyo, Davies, Kristiansen, Benjamin, Antwi, Colwill, Ashford, Wigley, Leahy, Tanner

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