Prague trip helping U18s gel, says Richards
24th July 2015
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 into 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." U18s coach Richards said.
"We have certainly seen an improvement from the defeat at home to Dagenham and Redbridge the other week, with plenty of determination shown by the boys to come back from a goal down three times.
"The defeat on Friday against Bohemians was disappointing. We were against an 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 half of these players for two weeks as they have made the step up from Under-16 level, so part of the process of this competition is to help us mould the squad together ahead of the new season."
Swans U18s will now face Hungarian side Vasas Kubala Academy on Sunday afternoon (July 26 - KO 3pm) in the play-off phase of the CEE Cup.
CEE Cup Round-Up
Swans Under-18s 3-3 FC Pandev Academy
Swans U18s came from behind three times to draw 3-3 with Pandev Academy.
The young Swans levelled halfway through the first half through Liam Edwards after Causso Darame found the winger in space on the left to 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 edged in front thanks to a direct free-kick from Valentin Kochoski, who completed his hat-trick.
Pandev were reduced to ten men ten minutes from time when their defender was adjudged to have committed handball inside the area. Defender Aaron Lewis then scored from the penalty spot to make it 3-3.
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 Under-18s 1-3 FC Bohemians 1905
Swans U18s suffered a 3-1 defeat at the hands of FC Bohemians 1905 in their second game of Group D in the CEE Cup.
Bohemians opened the scoring inside six minutes when Filip Belcha slotted home to finish off a fine breakaway by the Czech side.
In what was a virtually a carbon copy of the first goal, Lukas Trampota then doubled Bohemians' advantage midway through the first half.
Just past the half-hour mark, the Swans found themselves trailing by three goals when goalkeeper Lewis Thomas' clearance fell to Belcha, who fired home his second from 20 yards.
Fresh legs in the second period coincided with an improvement for the Swans as Liam Cullen and Causso Darame both went close to pulling a goal back.
For the second time of the tournament, Swansea's opposition were reduced to ten men during the second period after a late challenge on Brandon Griffiths.
Liam Cullen made Swansea's one-man advantage tell late on, but the Welsh forward's strike wasn't enough to prevent the young Swans from 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.