Saunders Brace Can't Prevent Opening Day LossCrewe Alexandra Under 23's suffered defeat in their first league game of the season after Tom Adeyemi's 89th minute header won it for Cardiff.
The Alex had been 2-0 in front thanks to Callum Saunders' early brace, but the Bluebirds reduced the deficit on the stroke of half-time before restoring parity from the penalty spot.
It was the perfect start for Crewe, Saunders diving in to latch onto Ryan Wintle's clever cross to divert the ball into the back of the net with just three minutes on the watch.
Goalkeeper Dave Richards made a smart save down low to his right from Adeyemi's angled drive on eight minutes, before he was forced off with 14 minutes on the clock needed to head to hospital for stitches after Rhys Healy had inadvertently stamped on his head.
But Crewe doubled the lead on 22 minutes from the penalty spot - Saunders sending the keeper the wrong way after the ref had spotted some shirt pulling from a corner kick.
Sub Crewe keeper Jake Hilton could only stand and watch as Healy's 39th minute header crashed off the crossbar.
Cardiff drew level dead on 45 minutes, Healy rounding Hilton and the goalkeeper had come flying out of the box to slot into an unguarded net.
In an open second half, both sides had chances, but Cardiff drew level just after the hour mark with a penalty for themselves - Adam Le Fondre drilling straight down the middle, Hilton saving but the unfortunate keeper could only look on as the ball bounced off the post & in.
Four minutes from time and Saunders has a chance to win the match, and for his hat-trick, but his right-footed effort across the keeper was well saved down low.
With a minute left, Cardiff pumped a deep cross in from the left & giant midfielder Adeyemi rose highest to head back across the goal and pick out the corner perfectly via a touch off the post to win the game 3-2 for the visitors.
Crewe: Richards (Hilton), Bullock (Woodcock), Pickering, Ray, Nugent, Lowery, Wintle, Ainley (Wilkinson), Udoh, Saunders
U23 Crewe 2-3 Cardiff goals below