Adam King scored twice as the super Swans u23s saw off a strong Reading side to lift the Premier League Cup and clinch a double of their own.
King killed off the Royals with a goal in each half, his first a well timed header, the second a cool finish after neat interplay set him free.
The driving rain certainly didn’t dampen the enthusiasm of a decent crowd. More than 2,000 of the Jack Army packed into the West Stand to see if the youngsters could follow up their Premier League 2 title with a cup. And those youngsters didn’t disappoint the watching masses.
In fact, I’d go as far as to say we witnessed one of the best games of the season at any level. It was a contest between two well drilled, technically excellent sides, with plenty of goalmouth action to go with the neat and patient interplay.
Credit to both sides for the show they put on!
Reading started strongly but it didn’t take the young Swans long to get into their stride and they were soon testing Legg in the Reading goal. The Royals stopper produced excellent saves to deny Daniel James twice as well as thwarting George Byers’ curled effort from distance.
Zabret in the Swans goal had his work cut out too though, producing a decent double save from Frost and Novakovick. However he could do nothing about Reading captain Dickie’s firm header from a corner and he was relieved to see the ball cannon back off the bar and the rebound headed wastefully over.
A goal was coming though…the quality of chances was just too good for it to remain goalless. Fortunately, when the goal came it was the Reading keeper Legg picking the ball out of the net.
Daniel James was the architect, once again beating his man out wide and advancing forward before picking out King with a driven cross. To be fair to King the ball came at him fast and at an awkward height but he still got his head to it, and with all the pace on the cross the ball rocketed into the net.
1-0 Swans on the stroke of half-time.
Buoyed by that late breakthrough the Swans dominated the early part of the second half, pegging Reading back. However, the elusive second goal wouldn’t come and slowly but surely Reading played their way back into the contest.
There was another escape for the Swans when Novakovick’s hit from distance took a wicked deflection and dropped just over the bar but in the main the home side defended competently and robustly, often turning defence into attack with neat, incisive interplay.
And that’s exactly what brought the Swans – and King – their second goal. Daniel James was at the heart of the creation again, driving forward and exchanging passes with McBurnie, and the latter eventually released King in the box. A couple of strides forward first and then the midfielder calmly despatched the ball past Legg to effectively seal the tie and win the cup with only ten minutes left on the clock.
There could have been a third soon after but after another scintillating, sweeping move, Tyler Reid picked the wrong pass into the box and the chance was lost. It didn’t matter though; Reading were beaten and the Double was done!
Make no mistake, this is a fantastic achievement. Our U23s have done everything that’s been asked of them in a sensational first season at this level. Yes, there will be those that will dismiss these youngsters and say they are not ready for the first team. And that might be true, but we won’t know unless they get an opportunity at some stage.
For these young footballers, they’ve done everything they can, passed almost every challenge, as they strive to earn the right to represent Swansea City in the Premier League…
…we should not dismiss their claims too lightly.
Congratulations to the players on lifting more silverware, and congratulations too go to Gary Richards and Cameron Toshack for the expert way they have jointly managed their young charges this season.
And an extra special well done goes to Nigel Rees – a perhaps unseen force behind the huge strides we’ve made at youth level, but integral to our current success. Nige is a good guy and he’s worked tirelessly to help the club gain Academy One status. Tonight’s Double winning success is a fitting reward for him as well as the coaches and players.
Congratulations to all connected with Swansea City’s Academy and U23 set-up…
…ATFV is very, very proud of you!