Jon Grey | We need to follow first-team’s set-piece example

19th January
Jon Grey

Swansea City Under-23s coach Jon Grey says his players must follow the first-team’s example in defending set-pieces if they are to eventually step up to the senior environment under Steve Cooper.

The young Swans were beaten 2-1 by Cardiff City in their latest Professional Development League South fixture, despite taking an early lead in Leckwith through Bradley Gibbings.

After coming under an intense period of second-half pressure, Grey’s youthful side were undone by two free-kicks in the space of six minutes as they left the Cardiff International Sports Stadium empty-handed.

It means that the development side have kept just a single clean sheet from 13 league games this season.

By contrast, Cooper’s first team have 15 from 24 outings so far, with their solidarity at the back and defending set-pieces instrumental factors in their surge up to second place in the Championship table.

And Grey insists his under-23 players must follow in the footsteps of their senior counterparts if they are to eventually make strides in the professional game.

“We conceded from two set-pieces today, which is quite frustrating,” he said.

“If the players want to make the step-up to the first team, we must address the issue. That is something they pride themselves on.

“If they’re not getting away with it at under-23 level, they certainly won’t get away with it at senior level.

“I didn’t think it was a free-kick that led to the second goal but, even so, you still have to get on with it and defend properly.

“They must get that aspect of their game absolutely right and today they didn’t, they conceded two poor goals that were easily avoidable.”

However, Grey did praise the performance of Jamie Searle after the goalkeeper produced a number of impressive saves to keep his side in the game.

The New Zealander has been a regular between the sticks for the young Swans this term after arriving from Aston Villa in the summer.

Having registered a clean sheet in last week’s draw with Millwall, he turned in another creditable display against Cardiff; notably demonstrating tremendous reflexes to deny Rubin Colwill and Isaak Davies in quick succession.

And Grey believes Searle is reaping the rewards of hard graft behind the scenes with goalkeeping coach Martin Davies at Landore. 

“He’s come out of the game today with credit,” the under-23s coach added.

“He hasn’t been in the professional game for very long, but Martin works tirelessly with him every day on the training ground.

“It’s starting to show in his last couple of performances. 

“He kept a clean sheet last week and kept us in the game today with a couple of good saves.”