Prague trip helping U18s gel, says Richards
Gary Richards believes Swansea City under-18s time in the Czech Republic is helping blend the squad together ahead of the new season.
Despite a well-earned 3-3 draw against Macedonian side Pandev Academy on Thursday followed by a 3-1 loss against local Czech side FC Bohemians 1905 on Friday, the young Swans move onto the play-off stage of the CEE Cup this weekend.
“It has been a tough start for us here in Prague but I was pleased with the first match against Pandev considering it was only the second game into our pre-season.” Richards said
“We have certainly seen an improvement from the defeat at home to Dagenham and Redbridge the other week, with plenty of determination in boys to come back from a goal down three times.
“The defeat on Friday against Bohemians was disappointing, we were against and older and more physical side who took their chances.
“Our performance in the first half was not good enough, the positive to take is that the lads never gave up and improved in the second period.
“Just like this time last season, we are in the process of blending a new squad together.
“We have only been working with a half of these players for two weeks as they have made the step up from an under-16 level, so part of the process of this competition is to help us mould the squad together ahead of the new season.”
Swansea City under-18s now move onto the play-offs in the CEE Cup to face Hungarian side Vasas Kubala Academy on Sunday afternoon (July 26 – KO 3pm).
CEE Cup Round-Up
Swans Under-18s 3-3 FC Pandev Academy
The under-18’s came back from behind three times during the game against Pandev Academy, levelling halfway through the first half through Liam Edwards after Causso Darame found the winger in space on the left for fire into the top corner.
After falling behind again, the Swans equalised early in the second half with Dan Jefferies laying on a header inside the box for front man Liam Cullen to race onto and rifle home to make it 2-2.
Despite dominating much of the play in the second period, the Macedonian side again took the lead thanks to a direct free-kick from Valentin Kochoski who completed his hat-trick.
Pandev were reduced to ten men ten minutes from time after with defender Aaron Lewis scoring from the penalty spot six minutes later after their defender was judged to have handballed the ball inside the area.
Swans U18s v FC Pandev Academy: Lewis Thomas, Dan Jefferies, Ben Jones, Aaron Lewis, Connor Quigley, Thomas Dyson, Jack Evans, Keiran Evans (Jordan Jones, HT), Liam Edwards (Sean Hanbury, 80), Causso Darame (Brandon Griffiths, 65), Liam Cullen
Swans Under018s 1-3 FC Bohemians 1905
The under-18s fell behind after just six minutes in their second Group D game, a breakaway and cut back down the left found Filip Belcha to slot home inside the box.
The Czech side doubled their lead ten minutes later with a carbon copy of the first goal, another breakaway down the left and cut back inside the area this time found Lukas Trampota to make it 2-0.
Bohemians extended their lead to three goals on 34 minutes when a short clearance from Swans keeper Lewis Thomas found its way to the feet of Belcha who fired his second from 20 yards.
Fresh legs in the second half saw improvements for the Swans with Liam Cullen and Causso Darame coming close.
The Swans opposition were again reduced to ten men during the second period after a late challenge brought down Brandon Griffiths during a break down the left.
A consolation strike from substitute Liam Cullen wasn’t enough to help the under-18s avoid their first defeat of the tournament.
Swans U18s v FC Bohemians 1905: Lewis Thomas, Aaron Lewis (Ben Jones, 73), Connor Quigley, Ben Morgan, Mael Davies (Dan Jefferies, 41), Jordan Jones, Thomas Dyson (Jack Evans, HT), Keiran Evans, Sean Hanbury (Liam Cullen, HT), Causso Darame, Brandon Griffiths