Report | Cardiff City U18s 2 Swansea City U18s 1
Swansea City Under-18s' opening Professional Development League South match of 2021 ended in defeat at the hands of Cardiff City in Leckwith.
First-half goals from Ntazana Mayembe and Frazer Thomas put the in-form hosts in control at the Cardiff International Sports Stadium.
Appearing in their first match since December 12, Anthony Wright's side looked understandably rusty during the first half, but responded well after the break.
Cameron Congreve's wonderful individual effort within two minutes of the restart gave them hope of a revival.
But, despite a valiant effort, they were just unable to find the equaliser and slipped to their first away defeat of the season.
This was the young Swans' opening match of the calendar year - and first since the 4-0 defeat by Watford 10 weeks ago.
By contrast, this was Cardiff's third game in four weeks - including a thumping 5-1 win over Queens Park Rangers last time out - and they quickly settled into their rhythm.
Thomas embarked on a jinking run into the box before shooting wide, while it took a smart save by Tyler Evans to deny Mayembe.
But there was no denying Mayembe in the 17th minute. The ball ricocheted kindly for the Cardiff skipper after the Swans failed to deal with a free-kick and, although he scuffed his first attempt, he slotted the ball home at the second time of asking.
The hosts doubled their lead just five minutes later; capitalising on loose play in the visitors' defence with Thomas nipping in and poking past Evans.
The Swansea keeper came to his side's rescue soon after; making a tremendous save from point-blank range to deny James Crole, who had latched onto a long ball over the top of the defence.
Wright's side looked invigorated as they began the second half and within two minutes, they had halved the deficit.
Picking up the ball deep inside the Cardiff half, Congreve cleverly skipped away from a couple of challenges before drilling a fierce left-footed shot beyond the reach of Jaimie Cogman.
The attacking midfielder, who also netted in the reverse fixture between the sides, took his tally for the season to four goals - the joint-most for the under-18s this term.
The Swans continued to pose a dangerous threat going forward. Adrian Akande forced a save out of Cogman from a tight angle, while Josh Edwards fired a good opportunity wide of the target.
At the other end, Crole drilled a low shot wide and Evans did well to tip away Ryan Kavanagh's deep cross that was threatening to creep into the far corner.
The visitors rallied as the clock ticked down and it was only a couple of poor final passes that prevented them from threatening the Cardiff goal.
But despite their persistence, the Swans were just unable to bring themselves back onto level terms with the hosts, who recorded their fifth win in six games.
Cardiff U18s: Jaimie Cogman, Taylor Jones, Tom Davies, Eli King, Josh Rippon, Jac Clay, Frazer Thomas (Siyabonga Ligendza, 55), Ryan Kavanagh, James Crole, Caleb Hughes, Ntazana Mayembe (capt; Tom Chiabi, 90+3).
Subs not used: Brad Stewart, Rhys Schwank, Adam Coomer.
Swans U18s: Tyler Evans, Harry Jones, Cian Williams, Joel Cotterill, Scott Butler (capt), Kai Ludvigsen, Adrian Akande, Josh Edwards (Ben Lloyd, 77), Rio Campbell, Cameron Congreve, Morgan Clarke.
Subs not used: Josh Hutchings, Geoff Bony, Jada Mawonga, Ryan Bassett.