Since the start of the season; the newly formatted Checkatrade Trophy has seen development squads included for the first time in the competitions history – for those who’ve been keeping an eye out – you’ll be more than aware of just how well our Under 21’s squad have done in the competition.
A tense quarter final against Coventry saw our younger lads tumble out of the Checkatrade Trophy on penalties but it has to be noted just how well they’ve performed throughout the course of the cup. The last 16 was a nail biter of a contest as the Swansea Under 21’s hosted Wolverhampton Wanderers development squad and eased past them to set up a quarter final tie with League One Coventry City.
3,300 fans were in attendance at the Liberty Stadium as a strong Coventry XI took to the field in the hope of beating Gary Richards and Cameron Toshack’s young squad. The Swans team included Jay Fulton, who has made 10 Premier League appearances this season so far, along with highly rated midfielder trio Alex Bray, Owain Jones and Ryan Blair.
Swansea also included Gerhard Tremmel as the only overage player in the team; the German goalkeeper is finding his chances limited in the first team despite his advancing years; he’s 38 now but has provided a solid base for the team in the Checkatrade Trophy.
It was a nervy game against Coventry despite them taking advantage of the competition’s ruling that they need only field five first team players. Four changes from the side that faced Fleetwood at the weekend meant some younger players were afforded their opportunity to shine but it wasn’t a stellar performance by any stretch of the imagination.
Chances were few and far between for both sides but the young Swans had the better of the play for the most part. Tyler Reid swung a dangerous cross in not long after kick off but Coventry’s ‘keeper cut it out before any harm could be done. Owain Jones dropped an equally threatening cross after 20 minutes but Coventry withstood the pressure.
Highly rated Swans forward Oli McBurnie saw a golden opportunity deflected over the bar just before half time as neither side could break the deadlock.
The second half got underway and almost sent the Swans fans into a frenzy as McBurnie thrashed a shot from close range but Charles-Cook in the Coventry goal denied him yet again. Finally, the breakthrough came as Alex Bray worked his way into the box only to be toppled by Coventry’s Ryan Haynes – Oli McBurnie confidently dispatched the resulting penalty: 1-0 Swans.
In true Swans style; the young lads continued to press as they looked to extend their advantage but the excitement seemed to get to them five minutes before the final whistle. A dubious foul saw Coventry in a glorious position and George Thomas’ lofted delivery found striker Jordan Willis: 1-1 and penalties followed.
Disappointingly, only Aaron Lewis and George Byers were able to convert their penalties with Botti Biabi and Ryan Blair both giving the ‘keeper too much of an indication of where they were aiming their spot kicks. Tremmel failed to save any of Coventry’s penalties and the young Swans crashed out of the Checkatrade Trophy 4-2.
Despite a disappointing result, the Swans development squad can hold their heads high as Quarter Finalists and the last remaining Under 21’s squad in the competition. The future is bright for Swansea and it’s arriving at precisely the right moment as Paul Clement seeks fresh talent from the development squad to bolster his team for the Premier League relegation battle.