Match Reports

Match report: Albion's kids are alright!

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Moder and Zeqiri strike as young guns progress in Carabao Cup.

By Bruce Talbot • 24 August 2021

Andi Zeqiri ran straight to the Albion supporters to celebrate his first goal for the club.
  • Cardiff City 0, Albion 2

Albion’s youngsters produced a performance to be proud of as they knocked out Championship side Cardiff City in the Carabao Cup.

Jakub Moder and Andi Zeqiri scored their first goals for the club in the Welsh capital as an Albion side whose ten outfield players had an average age of 20.5 showed maturity beyond their years against a Cardiff side unbeaten in the second tier so far this season.

Three more teenagers entered the fray in the second half and Albion had other chances to score while Jason Steele, the most experienced player in the side at 31, made some good saves when called upon.

It was hard to pick an Albion man of the match with so many eye-catching performances all over the pitch. Watching academy manager John Morling and under-23s head coach Andrew Crofts must have been very proud with what they saw on the night.

As expected, Graham Potter rang the changes with a completely different starting XI compared to Saturday's 2-0 Premier League win over Watford. There were first-team debuts for Marc Leonard and Antef Tsoungui in defence while a youthful bench included under-18s Odel Offiah, Evan Ferguson and Andy Moran.

Cardiff's squad also included four Academy graduates but there was an experienced core including former Crawley striker James Collins.

By Paul Hazlewood
Jakub Moder gave Albion the lead after nine minutes.

Despite their lack of first-team experience, there was a confidence about Albion's early play and it was rewarded with a superb goal on nine minutes.

It was hard to decide what was best, the 30-yard pass by Enock Mwepu that beat Cardiff’s offside trap or the composed finish by Moder as he ran on and fired confidently past Alex Smithies.

It was just the start Albion needed. They passed the ball confidently, stood up to the physical challenge Cardiff offered at set-pieces and could and probably should have added to their lead by half-time.

Haydon Roberts' raking pass from just outside the Albion D released Zeqiri in space on the left but from a difficult angle he shot wide. A minute later Steele’s clearance landed on Mwepu’s feet on the right and he teed up Taylor Richards, who blazed over.

By Paul Hazlewood
Andi Zeqiri went close to giving Albion a two-goal lead in the first half, but struck just wide.

Cardiff offered little before the break. Steele back-pedalled to push Perry Ng's deflected strike over the bar and Collins headed wide just before the break but Albion had been the better side.

Cardiff came out with much more intent at the start of the second half. Ryan Wintle stabbed the ball just wide without knowing too much about it from Ng's cross but, having survived a spell of pressure, Albion doubled their lead on 55 minutes. Moder had just been denied by Smithies after he was played in by Richards when moments later Moises Caicedo rode a challenge and released Zeqiri in the box and the Swiss striker fired low past Smithies.

By Paul Hazlewood
Andi Zeqiri marked his first start of the season with his first goal for the club.

Collins should have pulled one back when he met Josh Murphy’s powerful cross with a header which bounced up off the crossbar and although Cardiff were pressing more Albion threatened on the break. Smithies made a superb save to keep out Marc Leonard’s shot after he was picked out in space 15 yards out by Mwepu.

Albion brought on three more debutants in 17-year-old Andy Moran, Odel Offiah, 18, and 16-year-old Evan Ferguson, who replaced the limping Mwepu with ten minutes to go.

Steele made a good reflex save to keep out Aden Flint’s far-post header from Will Vaulks’ corner then got down to deny Kieffer Moore. Albion negotiated six minutes of stoppage time and Steele clawed away an effort from Ng but Albion can look forward to tomorrow night’s third-round draw.

Albion: Steele ©, Leonard (Moran 67), Tsoungui, Roberts, Karbownik, Caicedo, Alzate, Richards (Offiah 67), Moder, Zeqiri, Mwepu (Ferguson 81).

Subs: Walton, McGill, Furlong.