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Swans win penalty drama to reach play-off final

The Under-21s secured a penalty shoot-out victory against Nottingham Forest at the City Ground as they booked a place in this season's play-off final.

Forest had much the better of the first half and stormed into a two-goal lead thanks to strikes from Jorge Grant and James Thorne.

The Swans were much improved after the break and Adam King shot wide of goal before late drama ensued.

Henry Jones pulled a goal back with five minutes to play, while Alex Samuel netted in stoppage time to take the contest into an extra 30 minutes.

Samuel looked to have handed the Swans victory as he grabbed his second in the first period, but Alex Iacovitti popped up with an equaliser late in the second period to take the game into a penalty shoot-out.

There had to be a hero - and it turned out to be Oliver Davies - as the Swans keeper saved twice from 12 yards as the visitors prevailed 5-4 on penalties.

FOREST U21s: Dimitar Evtimov, Ilias Polimos,  Roger Riera (capt), Joe Worrall, Alex Iacovitti, Oliver Burke (Deimantas Petravicius, 59), Josh Rees, Adam Crookes, Jorge Grant (Matt Cash, 82), James Thorne (Gerry McDonagh, 79), Tyler Walker.

SUBS: Ross Durrant, Jack Kelly.

SWANS U21s: Oliver Davies, Connor Roberts, Raheem Hanley, Alex Gogic (Joe Rodon, 75), Giancarlo Gallifuoco, Jay Fulton, Adnan Maric (Alex Samuel, 32), Adam King, Henry Jones (capt), Stephen Fallon (Dan James, ht), Kenji Gorre.

SUBS: Gregor Zabret, Tom Holland.

The Swans finished the regular season in second place in Development League Two South - six points behind Crystal Palace - while Forest topped the North division ahead of Huddersfield Town.

The Swans had already won at the City Ground this season, securing a 5-2 victory back in September.

But it was the home side who took an early lead after just ten minutes as the ball broke for Jorge Grant 25 yards from goal, with the midfielder hitting a fine shot into the bottom corner past the outstretched hand of Oliver Davies.

The Swans' first sight of goal came after 20 minutes as Henry Jones curled a shot a couple of yards over the bar, but just three minutes later the visitors were dealt a severe blow as Forest doubled their lead.

Jorge Grant lifted a fine free kick into the box that evaded the Swans defence, leaving James Thorne free at the far post to glance a header into the net.

The same two players combined just moments later as Thorne's header landed on the roof of the net, with the home side looking rampant in the opening half hour.

Forest came even closer to a third with just under ten minutes until the interval as Grant's pull back from the right found Oliver Burke in the box, but his fierce drive was beaten away by Davies.

Tyler Walker - son of former Forest captain Des - then shot straight at the goalkeeper as Forest ended the half well on top.

Half-time: Nottingham Forest 2 Swans 0

The Swans made a change at the break as Dan James replaced Stephen Fallon, but it was Forest who twice came close as a cross from the right was spilled by Oliver Davies, with the ball squirming just wide, while James Thorne also saw an effort saved by the goalkeeper.

The visitors were enjoying far better spells of possession in the second half without testing Forest goalkeeper Dimitar Evtimov, with top scorer Kenji Gorre sending a shot wide of goal after a well-worked corner routine.

Their best chance then fell to Adam King, who somehow managed to sidefoot his effort wide of goal after he was left unmarked 12 yards from goal.

However, the Swans did halve the deficit with five minutes to play as Fulton clipped a lovely ball over the Forest defence for Henry Jones who coolly slotted past Evtimov.

And there was to be even more late drama as Alex Samuel raced clear to squeeze a shot past the keeper four minutes into stoppage time as the game ended in extra-time.

The Swans enjoyed the better of the first period and completed a remarkable turned in the final minute as Samuel raced onto a long ball before sliding a cool finish under the goalkeeper.

But there was to be another late twist with three minutes remaining of the second period as Alex Iacovitti slotted home a rebound from close range to send the contest to a penalty shoot-out.

Raheem Hanley missed the chance to secure the win for the Swans as his effort was saved, but Oliver Davies was the hero as he saved twice - finally by Iacovitti - to hand the visitors a thrilling win.

 


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