Sheffield Wednesday: Old boy Gary Madine stars as Owls lose five-goal thriller with Cardiff City
Former Sheffield Wednesday striker Gary Madine starred in Cardiff City's 3-2 win over the Owls' Under-23s at Bracken Moor today.
The centre-forward, who enjoyed a productive loan spell at Sheffield United last season, scored the opener in a low-key first half.
Madine then turned provider after half-time, setting up Issac Vassell for the Bluebirds second.
Jordan O'Brien made it 2-1 but Aaron Bolger grabbed a third in the 60th minute after Josh Render made a brilliant block to keep Madine at bay.
Liam Shaw's penalty set up a grand-stand finish but Cardiff held on to claim maximum points.
"It was an even game,” academy manager Steven Haslam told The Star. “I thought the back three, overall, defended well for large parts of it, but their two senior players showed why they have played at a really good level.
"You want to put your young players in situations that stress them and challenges them and that was definitely the case against Cardiff. They played against two senior strikers and that is great for the likes of Jack Lee and Osaze [Uroghide], who may not have come up against that calibre of opponent too often before.
"It was a really good learning experience for them both and I thought Jack, in particular, performed well.”
Wednesday, who gave run-outs to Ash Baker and Jordan Thorniley, dominated proceedings in the early skirmishes. It took just eight minutes for exciting midfielder Shaw to test the reflexes of Neil Etheridge with a low shot from just outside the penalty area.
Etheridge was then equal to a stinging Jordan O'Brien effort following good play by his strike partner Conor Grant.
The visitors offered little attacking threat as the Owls continued to monopolise possession and create the bulk of the opportunities. After Shaw fizzed a cross turned shot well wide, James Waite sliced off target when well-placed for the Bluebirds.
But against the run of play, Cardiff opened the scoring in the 38th minute. Vassell shrugged off the attentions of Osaze Uroghide and slipped in Madine, who cut on to his right foot before drilling a ferocious shot past Josh Render into the top corner.
Moments later, Wednesday suffered another blow when Baker was forced off with a groin problem and replaced by Ben Hughes.
Things could have got even worse for the Owls on the stroke of half-time as the Bluebirds came close to doubling their lead. Render produced a stunning save to keep out Vassell's downward header after a lovely centre by Madine.
A quick Cardiff counter attack opened Wednesday up at the back three minutes into the second period.
Vassell and Madine worked well in tandem, with Madine supplying a good cross from the right. Vassell showed nimble footwork to wriggle his way past Uroghide before firing home from inside the six-yard box.
Alex Hunt picked up the first booking of the afternoon after unceremoniously bringing down Waite midway in Cardiff's half. The midfielder was later substituted and replaced by Preslav Borukov.
The Owls reduced their arrears in the 50th minute. Grant drove into the penalty area before laying the ball into the path of the onrushing O'Brien, who curled a left foot strike out of Etheridge's reach.
Render then enhanced his reputation by pulling off an outstanding stop to turn away Curtis Nelson's bullet header from a Bluebirds corner.
It was left to Aaron Bolger to restore Cardiff's two-goal cushion on the hour mark. He tapped home after Render expertly thwarted Madine in a one-on-one situation after the striker latched on to a ball over the top.
To their immense credit, Wednesday refused to let their heads drop and O'Brien and Shaw were both denied by the agility of Etheridge.
But the Owls were handed a lifeline in the 71st minute after Shaw was adjudged to have been brought down by Tavio D'Almeida in the penalty area. The referee pointed to the spot and Shaw picked himself up and coolly sent Etheridge the wrong way.
Waite blazed over in the dying minute as Cardiff pressed for a fourth but the Welsh club held on to take home the spoils.
Haslam said: "We competed well right up until the end.
"We spoke at half-time about being a little more effective with the ball and playing forward and getting more numbers up the pitch, which I think we did better in the second half.
"We changed it around tactically early in the second half which may have helped as well, but it is great learning curve for our lads.”
Owls: Render; Uroghide, Lee, Thorniley; Baker (Hughes 40), Hunt (Borukov 52), Shaw, Waldock, Preston; O'Brien (West 87), Grant. Substitutes: Jackson, Rice.