The Swans U21s capped an excellent season last night with a hard fought 3-2 win over Huddersfield Town in the U21 Professional Development League Two Final.
With the game being held at the Liberty Stadium, it gave Swans fans an ample opportunity to take a closer look at a few of the Under-21 players who had already been part of Garry Monk’s Premier League match day squad during the season, such as Raheem Hanley, Matty Grimes, Kenji Gorre and Jay Fulton. England Under-20 International Grimes had already experienced first team action of course.
A decent crowd filled the West Stand to witness an interesting encounter and contrast in styles between a physical Terriers side and the now familiar style of a Swans team.
Huddersfield – who had finished the season as U21 Professional Development League Two North Runners up behind Nottingham Forest – had the better of the opening exchanges as the young Swans took time to settle against their more physical in-your-face opponents.
A number of Swans U21s caught the eye during the first 45 minutes with Raheem Hanley and Kenji Gorre working well down the left flank, Alex Samuel showing plenty of power and pace up front, Matt Grimes showing some class in midfield with Jay Fulton, Alex Gogic, Adam King and keeper Oliver Davies also making an impression.
It seemed strange (to me) that as soon as Huddersfield took the lead on 32 minutes that they seemed to lose their shape and the compact defensive setup they’d used to good effect prior to the goal, going completely out of the window! Consequently it came as little suprise when the bustling Alex Samuel headed in the Swans equaliser on 39 minutes.
The half-time concensus was that whilst the Swans looked good going forward there was some cohesion missing in midfield which had resulted in some moves breaking down through stray passes. In fairness, credit must go to Huddersfield as they’d managed to stop us playing our usual game with their physical man-to-man approach.
The second half was to be a completely different story however as the Swans took control of the game and dominated possession and territory.
The Swans were now making their passes count and getting full-backs Hanley and Conner Roberts involved more. A number of chances were spurned before the ever-dangerous Kenji Gorre scored just after the hour with a cool finish. The Swans were now well on top with skipper Josh Sheehan and Matt Grimes pulling the strings in midfield, so it came as no surprise when Gorre added a third goal.
The rare forays that Huddersfield did make into the Swans half/area were dealt with easily by the impressive Oliver Davies and Alex Gogic – the latter of whom had an old-skool look and approach to his centre-back play.
As the game progressed, the Terriers became more frustrated and it began to show with an increasing amount of niggly challenges. To their credit, they never gave up and were rewarded for their perseverance with a goal in the last few minutes – thus ensuring the usual nervous end to a Swansea City game that we Swans fans are well accustomed too!
Thankfully the 5 minutes of injury time came to nothing and the Swans U21s were duly crowned Professional Development League Two Cup Final Trophy Winners.
Manager Chris Llewellyn and his staff can take great credit for the way he had his side play – throughout the season – and they got their well earned reward by adding another piece of silverware to the Swans Academy trophy cabinet.
Every single Swans player who took the field can be proud of their contribution but there were a few players who in my opinion are ones to watch for the future and on what I witnessed last night, we may not have long to wait to see them in action for Garry Monk’s team.
So you heard it here first, keep an eye out for – Oliver Davies, Conner Roberts, Raheem Hanley, Alex Gogic, Adam King, Jay Fulton, Matt Grimes, Josh Sheehan, Alex Samuel and Kenji Gorre.
A full report of the game is available on the Swans Official site.
On the evidence of last night, there are quite a few players who have a bright future ahead of them and that of course can only be good news for the Swans.