. . . from the Cardiff City Stadium
The Swans Under-21s suffered a disappointing defeat in the capital as Cardiff City earned a deserved victory.
The hosts dominated the first-half and the Swans had David Cornell to thank for keeping them in it with a string of fine saves.
Cardiff took the lead through Craig Conway’s powerful strike, before Jesse Darko doubled their lead shortly after.
The visitors pulled one back through a Danny Graham penalty, but it wasn’t enough for Kris O’Leary’s side.
Cardiff: Elliott Parish, Luke Coulson, Declan John, Theo Wharton, Ben Nugent, Deji Oshilaja, Kadeem Harris (Jesse Darko, 20), Nathaniel Jarvis, Etien Velikonja, Stephen McPhail, Craig Conway.
Swans: David Cornell, Jazz Richards, Darnel Situ (Henry Jones, 50), Scott Tancock, Dwight Tiendalli, Lee Lucas (Josh Sheehan, 14), Kemy Agustien (Liam Shephard, ht), Kurtis March, Gwion Edwards, Rory Donnelly, Danny Graham. Subs not used: Oliver Davies (GK), James Loveridge.
Danny Graham returned to action after a back injury forced him to miss the Barclays Premier League trip to Southampton on the weekend.
Midfielder Kemy Agustien also started following his brief substitute appearance at St Mary’s on Saturday.
David Cornell started in goal, while Jazz Richards took his place in the back four alongside Dwight Tiendalli, one of the three over-aged players allowed.
Kristian O’Leary’s team went into the game on the back of successive wins over Barnet and Ipswich in recent weeks.
The home side started brightly under the lights and had the game’s first chance after two minutes as Craig Conway’s free-kick sailed over the bar following a clumsy challenge on Kedeem Harris.
Just a minute later and Etien Velikonja beat the offside trap, but he saw his left-footed shot curl a fraction wide of Cornell’s right-hand post.
The Swans were taking a while to get into their stride and were dealt a blow after just 14 minutes when Lee Lucas went down after an aerial challenge. After lengthy treatment, the youngster was stretchered off.
However, the chances kept coming for the hosts and they came close when Conway’s corner was met by Deji Oshilaja, but his effort was palmed away by Cornell.
They had an even better opening on the half-hour mark as substitute Jesse Darko was put through, but Cornell was equal to the task once more after the striker’s attempted lob was thwarted.
The Swans ‘keeper had to be at his best again a few minutes later as Velikonja saw his header parried away before his follow up was also superbly kept out by the youngster.
Swansea’s best opening of the half fell to Rory Donnelly, but the young striker’s tame effort failed to trouble Elliott Parish in the Cardiff goal.
Half-time: Cardiff 0 Swans 0
The Swans made one change at the break as Kemy Agustien was replaced by Liam Shephard, with Jazz Richards moving into midfield.
And the half started as the first period ended with Cardiff going close once more as Darko’s shot was blocked before Velikonja somehow skewed the follow up over the bar.
But the Swans were dealt another injury blow just moments later as Darnel Situ came off second best in a challenge and had to be replaced by Henry Jones.
O’Leary’s men then managed to get a foothold in the game without creating any real chances in front of goal as their passing rhythm returned.
However, that was short lived as Cardiff’s dominance returned once more and they were rewarded for their positivity when they took the lead on the hour mark.
Jesse Darko did superbly to hold off two challenges as he led a counter-attack and after the ball was sprayed to the left and Craig Conway, the former Watford man, cut inside before firing an unstoppable shot that arrowed into the top left hand corner.
That goal gave the hosts even more confidence and they came close to doubling their lead just three minutes later when Stephen McPhail’s free-kick was tipped onto the bar by Cornell before Nathaniel Jarvis headed against a post from Conway’s cross.
But they weren’t to be denied and a second goal duly arrived with 15 minutes to play as Jesse Darko took advantage of a slip at the back to coolly slot past the keeper.
Danny Graham then saw a header comfortably saved by Parish before the striker pulled one back for the Swans from the penalty spot. Gwion Edwards raced into the box and after being brought down by Ben Nugent, Graham sent the keeper the wrong way to reduce the deficit.
The Swans then come agonisingly close to a late equaliser as Donnelly cut in from the left flank before seeing his shot come back off the crossbar with Parish well beaten.