Barnsley U23s suffered their first defeat of the Professional Development League campaign as they lost 2-0 away to Cardiff City on Monday afternoon.
The young Reds had to play more than half of the game with ten men at Leckwith Stadium after Louis Wardle was sent off for a second bookable offence just before the interval.
Wardle’s first yellow card came just after the half hour mark when he brought down ex-Red Kadeem Harris on the edge of the area, and he was then given his marching orders by referee Scott Jackson for a mistimed challenge on Ciaron Brown.
That was the game’s turning point, with Martin Devaney’s side looking the more likely to make a breakthrough.
Jacob Brown, deployed on the right wing, was wreaking havoc with his direct running, but the Bluebirds’ defence stood strong to repel all crosses into the danger zone.
Harris showed his quality with flashes of brilliance as he cut in from the left flank and tested Jake Greatorex with a dipping shot, but the young stopper was equal to his effort to keep the scores level.
Amir Berkovits and Tai-Reece Chisholm both saw half-chances snuffed out by a resolute home defence, before Cardiff were handed a distinct advantage for the second half with the dismissal of Wardle.
The Bluebirds took the game to Barnsley after the restart, with centre-back Paul McKay firing over the bar from 12-yards after the Reds failed to clear a corner.
After a period of sustained possession, the hosts eventually found a way through as Jack McKay burst into the area and struck a fierce shot at goal. Greatorex did well to make the save from point blank range, but the ball bobbled agonisingly to Rhys Healey who bundled home from inside the six-yard box.
Despite a numerical disadvantage, Barnsley pressed forwards in search of an elusive equaliser. The introduction of Louis Walsh from the bench injected energy and blistering pace into the attack, and he fashioned a chance almost immediately but Gerry McDonagh’s curling strike was comfortably saved by Brian Murphy.
Cardiff made sure of the three points one minute from time as substitute Ibrahim Meite embarked on a mazy run down the right, cut into the area and crashed a ferocious shot into the far top corner that clipped the underside of the bar on the way in.
The hosts almost had a third deep into injury time, but Jamie Veale’s long-range effort was superbly clawed out of the top corner by Greatorex.
CARDIFF XI: Murphy, Riveria, Coxe, P. McKay, Brown, Connolly, Shaw (Veale, 46), Ayite (Evans, 46), Healey, J. McKay (Meite, 66), Harris
Not used: Burwood, Bodenham
REDS XI: Greatorex, Wardle, Fielding, Smith, Barnett, Brown (Simpson, 62), Otim, Bird, Berkovits (Walsh, 70), Chisholm, McDonagh (Trialist, 84)
Not used: Feeney, Trialist