Brentford’s Development Squad suffered their first defeat of the 2013/14 Under-21 Professional Development League Two South season as they were beaten by Cardiff City.
The hosts were the better team on the night and fully deserved their 3-1 win.
But for Jack Bonham it would have been more, the Brentford goalkeeper made a series of superb saves to keep his team in it and ultimately keep the score down.
The Bees were back in it with 20 minutes to go, albeit dramatically against the run of play, when Luke Norris converted a penalty to level the game at 1-1.
But the hosts scored two late on to ensure they took a merited win.
The home side started well while Brentford appeared to be stuck in first gear for the opening 20 minutes.
The Bees were forced to do a lot of defending in the early stages and were fortunate to be level after the first quarter.
The home side did have the ball in the net after eight minutes, Rudy Gestede heading home a deep cross but referee Mark Greenwood adjudged that either the Cardiff striker or central defender Maxi Amondarain – who were crowding Bonham – had committed a foul.
Bonham made a good early save with his legs to deny Rhys Healey and Filip Kiss shot wide before Gestede rose highest to meet a corner but couldn’t hit the target.
Kiss blasted a free kick over the top, George Pilbeam blocked a Kadeem Harris effort and Alfie Mawson had to produce an important tackle to deny Jaye Bowen.
Bonham made a decent save to keep out a Healey shot and Aaron Pierre was able to clear Gestede’s weak follow-up effort.
Brentford found some of momentum after around 20 minutes, they were able to keep the ball in midfield and when they could get strikers Norris and Farid El Alagui in possession they looked likely to create something.
When they got the ball in to attacking areas, they worried the home defence and forced set pieces from which they looked dangerous.
Jake Reeves hit the wall with a free kick and then hit a low one that Simon Moore was able to comfortably save.
Pierre had a shot blocked for the visitors before a Josh Clarke shot – after good link-up play between El Alagui and Norris – was deflected wide.
Norris came close to opening the scoring when a corner was headed up in the air by Pierre; the striker brought it down and volleyed it inches past the far post.
But there was no doubt the hosts had the upper hand and they ended the half strongly.
A Bowen shot was blocked and Bonham denied Harris before the same man blasted well over.
Cardiff took the lead just before the break when Matthew Connolly played a long ball forward, Healey fed it on to Gestede and the striker slotted it calmly past Bonham.
The home side started the second half as they started the first, with the ascendency and attacking intent.
Healey shot over after cutting inside before a Kane Owen cross clipped the crossbar and Gestede was unable to turn in a Harris cross after the winger had skipped to the by-line.
Harris fired a free kick in to a defensive wall before setting up Healey, who pulled his shot wide.
El Alagui headed wide for The Bees and Norris missed the target after cutting inside but Brentford were under the cosh and fighting to stay in the game.
However, with 20 minutes to go, they were level.
The Bees broke quickly from a corner and Charlie Adams fed Norris, as he tried to cut back inside his shirt was pulled by Bowen and Mr Greenwood pointed to the penalty spot.
Norris stepped up and stroked the penalty home with Moore diving the wrong way.
Brentford were, however, only level for four minutes.
Moore played the ball long, Gestede flicked it on and Healey raced on to it to slot past Bonham and restore Cardiff’s lead.
It was no more than they deserved but Brentford improved as the half wore on and carried more attacking threat.
El Alagui had a low shot saved and Montell Moore had an effort blocked after cutting inside.
The game became stretched as Brentford chased a leveller and Bonham was called in to action repeatedly to keep his side in it.
He made a wonderful triple save, denying Harris, then flying out to stop a Healey shot before getting up again to keep out a Deji Oshilaja effort.
The stopper then tipped a curling Kiss free kick on to a post before a point-blank save from the Cardiff midfield player after more good work from Harris, the game’s outstanding player.
Cardiff eventually sealed the win with three minutes remaining.
Healey raced on to a through pass and fired low, only to see Bonham keep it out again, but this time Gestede was following up to score.
Substitute Ronnie Hawkins fired over as time ticked down for the hosts and El Alagui stung the palms of Moore as Brentford looked for a late consolation.
Oshilaja blasted wide with the last kick of the game but it didn’t affect the outcome, a well-deserved win for the hosts.
Cardiff City Development Squad: Simon Moore; Matthew Connolly, Maxi Amondarain, Deji Oshilaja, Kane Owen; Jaye Bowen, Filip Kiss (sub Ronnie Hawkins 89 mins), Theo Wharton, Kadeem Harris; Rhys Healey, Rudy Gestede
Subs (not used): Joe Massaro, Brad Williams, Anthony Bell, Macauley Southam
Bookings: Kiss (46 mins), Gestede (71 mins)
Brentford Development Squad: Jack Bonham; George Pilbeam (sub Montell Moore 65 mins), Alfie Mawson (sub Kieran Morris h/t), Aaron Pierre, Scott Barron; Josh Clarke, Jake Reeves, Tyrell Miller-Rodney, Charlie Adams; Luke Norris, Farid El Alagui
Subs (not used): Melvin Minter, Richard Bryan, Joe Maloney
Bookings: Pierre (19 mins), Miller-Rodney (48 mins), Morris (79 mins), El Alagui (90 mins)
By Chris Wickham