Gary Richards | A night of progress at The Hawthorns
Swansea City Under-23s coach Gary Richards is confident his young squad will feel the long-term benefits of last night’s defeat by West Bromwich Albion at The Hawthorns.
The young Swans were beaten 2-0 by an experienced West Brom side featuring the likes of Chris Brunt, Ahmed Hegazi and Kenneth Zohore, whose brace ended up separating the two teams.
Despite the result, it was certainly a night of progress for the development side, with 12 teenagers included in the matchday squad, while there were debuts for under-18s captain Ryan Bevan and first-year scholar Scott Butler.
Marc Walsh also made his first start for the under-23s and Ali Al-Hamadi earned his maiden league appearance from the bench.
And Richards is hopeful his players will grow from the experience.
“When you don’t get a result, everyone ends up disappointed,” the under-23s coach said.
“But in the long-term, it will be a great experience for our players – not only to be playing at a stadium, but also to come up against players who have played a lot of matches at senior level.
“One of the reasons for choosing younger players is so that they can enjoy these experiences at a younger age.
“They should learn, develop and grow from games like this. We’re hopeful it will hold them in good stead for the future.
“We think we rode our luck a little early on because they created a few decent chances in the first 20 minutes. Also, we didn’t really keep the ball as well as we would have liked, so we thought we were fortunate to go in at half-time level.
“I thought we played better in the second half; we kept the ball well and had more passages of possession. We were pleased about that, but we didn’t quite create enough chances and were a little bit wasteful in the final third.”
One of the stand-out performances at The Hawthorns was that of first-year pro Cameron Evans in the heart of defence.
The young centre-half, who has missed just one game all season, produced a couple of magnificent interventions to deny the experienced Zohore, while he also looked to kick-start counter-attacks with some determined runs out of defence.
“Cameron’s in a good spell of form at the moment,” Richards added.
“We’re very pleased with the way he’s progressing.
“It’s his first year as a professional and he was up against a player who has a lot of appearances at senior level.
“He’s another player who should gain a lot from experiences like this; it’s just about learning as much as he can.”