Cardiff City’s Development side will host Charlton Athletic in the Professional Development League 2 Play-Off Final after defeating Leicester City 3-2 at King Power Stadium on Tuesday night. The Final will be played at Cardiff City Stadium on Saturday, 11th May – kicking off at 3.00pm. ENTRY TO THIS FIXTURE IS FREE OF CHARGE – Please come one final match this season and cheer our future stars onto glory.
Deji Oshilaja helped inspire the City DVP side to the Final of the Professional Development League 2 Play-Off Final with two second half strikes.
An opening goal from England U19 defender George Taft gave the home side the advantage before his central defensive partner Sean McGinty levelled the game for City with a headed own goal.
The home side retook the lead during the second period with substitute Joe Dodoo lashing the ball in from the edge of the penalty area.
But the Foxes were pegged back for a second time with Oshilaja reacting first to a Joe Ralls corner with quarter of an hour left. The ever-present Oshilaja continued his heroics minutes later with a fantastic reaction in the box, turning on the spot before firing home to the delight of the travelling City fans and his coach Kevin Cooper.
Championship winning Ben Nugent returned to the City Development side for the first time since January for Play-Off semi-final with Leicester City at King Power Stadium, the twenty year old defender replacing regular right back Luke Coulson who has recently had surgery on injury. The inclusion of the towering Nugent meant Josh Yorwerth moved to the right back position while Etien Velikonja led the forward line following on from his first team appearance against Hull City.
The opening exchange between the two sides was somewhat tentative with neither Cardiff nor Leicester showing their true attacking prowess early on. Velikonja fired the ball over the bar from an offside position on eleven minutes before a Rhys Healey shot again failed to trouble Adam Smith in the home goal.
A well worked set piece on fifteen minutes gave the Foxes the lead with England U19 international George Taft rising highest to meet a Michael Cain free kick to give the hosts a one goal advantage.
GOAL! LEICESTER CITY 1-0 CARDIFF CITY (George Taft, 15 mins)
The first goal of the game came as a wakeup call for City’s development side who began pressing for an equaliser immediately. Velikonja’s volley went just wayward on sixteen minutes before two chances for Leicester’s Tom Hopper were well kept out by former Aston Villa goalkeeper Elliott Parish. George Taft’s aerial prowess again showed on twenty one minutes when his header caused the City defence real concern. While Cardiff managed to clear their lines on this occasion, the aerial work of Taft’s defensive partner Sean McGinty unfortunately proved decisive on twenty eight minutes. Luckily for Cooper’s men it was in their favour as McGinty’s attempted clearance from a delightful Declan John cross flew into the back of his own goal to level the tie at 1-1.
GOAL! LEICESTER CITY 1-1 CARDIFF CITY (Sean McGinty OG, 28 mins)
The home side very nearly regained their advantage within a minute of the restart. Midfielder Luke Hendrie showed great skill in finding space in the penalty area before driving the ball towards goal left footed. The shot beat City keeper Parish but the Leicester City trialist was denied by the bottom of the right hand post, with the ball cannoning to safety in the aftermath.
Another opportunity for the Foxes to reassert their lead came after thirty six minutes with forward Harry Panayiotou showcasing his keen eye for goal from a tight angle. The young forward scored for Leicester against Leeds United on his only first team appearance at the end of the 2011/12 season and his shot from an incredibly tight angle very nearly beat Parish at the near post.
City also had a real opportunity to go in at the break leading with former Gap Connah’s Quay striker Healey testing Adam Smith after breaking free from the home defence. Healey’s shot may have lacked power, but Smith had to be on full alert to keep the scores level and stop the low drive from creeping into the bottom corner.
HALF TIME: LEICESTER CITY 1-1 CARDIFF CITY
The away side started the second period stronger and very nearly carved an opening on forty eight minutes following a fine team move. The first shot fell to Kadeem Harris, with the former Wycombe Wanderers winger looking to add to the goal he scored against Barnet. Harris’ low drive looked as if it was going wide but with Smith flailing the ball ricocheted off Slovakian midfielder Filip Kiss and slipped just wide of the gaping goal leaving a relieved Smith the chance of regrouping to take a goal kick when the ball quite easily could have hit the back of the empty net.
The Cardiff City pressure continued following this early chance with the lively Etien Velikonja curling over from the edge of the penalty area after fifty six minutes. The forward ran onto a loose ball and whipped the ball left footed towards goal only to see his shot drift just over the crossbar. Another chance went begging for City when Kiss again broke from midfield, but his right footed shot went well wide of Smith’s goal.
Substitution LEICESTER CITY: Joe Dodoo replaces Harry Panayiotou (57 mins)
A Leicester City substitute changed the course of the game after sixty three minutes with Joe Dodoo seemingly turning the tie on its head. Despite the endless City pressure from the break, the home side headed towards goal with Dodoo running at Josh Yorwerth and Theo Wharton, but neither City player could anticipate what was about to come with Dodoo unleashing a low shot that flew from the edge of the penalty area and right into the bottom corner of Parish’s goal, leaving the goalkeeper stranded and giving his side the lead for a second time.
GOAL! LEICESTER CITY 2-1 CARDIFF CITY (Joe Dodoo, 63 mins)
Kevin Cooper’s team didn’t let this second Leicester goal dampen their spirits though and Velikonja probably should have done better with an opportunity of his own making on seventy two minutes. The forward robbed the Foxes defence out wide on the right and with the goal insight his scuffed shot flew wide with his team-mates in space. Although Velikonja will have been disappointed not levelling the game, the opportunity only became available because of an incredible piece of foresight from the striker.
Substitution CARDIFF CITY: Jesse Darko replaces Theo Wharton (75 mins)
City continually troubled the home side with driven set pieces and Joe Ralls had the opportunity to do so again on seventy nine minutes. The former Farnborough youngster’s driven corner was nudged into the back of the net via a deflection with Deji Oshilaja claiming the final touch in the crowded penalty area. A first goal of the season for Oshilaja who was City’s only ever present during the regular PDL 2 South season.
GOAL! LEICESTER CITY 2-2 CARDIFF CITY (Adedeji Oshilaja, 79 mins)
While Thomas Waite fully deserved the Cardiff City goal of the season award, had Kadeem Harris’ volley hit the back of the net the winger would have fully deserved an award of his own. A vicious right footed strike from the edge of the penalty area had Smith completely beaten but flew just wide of the left post.
Substitution LEICESTER CITY: Jak McCourt replaces Conor Clifford (84 mins)
With just minutes remaining both sides will have felt they still had every opportunity of pushing on to earn a place in the final. A stunning final blow came though on eighty six minutes with central defender Oshilaja showcasing an attacker’s instincts inside the penalty area, controlling the ball inside a crowded box before turning an lashing home an unstoppable drive to give City the lead for the first time.
GOAL! LEICESTER CITY 2-3 CARDIFF CITY (Adedeji Oshilaja, 86 mins)
Although Leicester tried to find a crucial equaliser in the final few minutes, the defiant City defence stood strong to clinch the win, and a place in the end of season Play-Off final.
FULL TIME: LEICESTER CITY 2-3 CARDIFF CITY
Cardiff City: Parish, Yorwerth, John, Nugent, Oshilaja, Kiss, Ralls, Wharton (Darko, 75), Velikonja, Healey, Harris. Subs not used: Richards (GK), Owen, O’Sullivan, Bell.
Leicester City: Smith, Anton, McGinty, Clifford (McCourt, 84), Sesay, Taft, Hendrie, Cain, Blyth, Hopper, Panayiotou (Dodoo, 57).Subs not used:Maduako, J Smith, Paratore.