Report | Plymouth Argyle U18s 3 Swansea City U18s 3
Swansea City Under-18s progressed to the quarter-finals of the Professional Development League Cup after a tense and dramatic draw against Plymouth Argyle.
The Swans finished the group stage campaign top of Group E after wins over Cardiff City and AFC Bournemouth in previous rounds, holding off a late Argyle fightback on their travels to advance to the last eight.
The visitors knew they would go through if they avoided defeat, while a win would send the home side into the quarter-finals, and it made for an entertaining contest with so much at stake.
Fin Wilkes opened the scoring by tapping in a rebound for Plymouth inside 20 minutes, before Rohan Davies netted an equaliser from close range moments later.
The Swans were on the front foot from then on as Thomas Woodward sent a stunning header into the back of the net, before bagging his second from the spot in the second period.
It looked as though Swansea were about to progress in comfort but the hosts had other ideas.
They pulled one back from a penalty kick converted by Welsh youth international Joe Hatch, and had a glimmer of hope when Freddie Issaka's deflection found the net in the closing stages.
But the Swans saw out the remainder of the game and made sure there was no repeat of 12 months ago, when defeat to Plymouth had dumped them out of the same competition.
There were two changes to the Swans line up that faced Millwall last time out. Jack Fanning came back into the starting XI following a brief injury and suspension, replacing Iestyn Jones.
Teo Minchev made his first competitive start in Swans colours in place of Ben Phillips, who was named amongst the substitutes.
It was an open start to the contest, with both sides pressing aggressively in and out of possession.
Yori Griffith and Aimar Govea combined on multiple occasions, with the latter’s promising half-shot, half-cross into the box eventually being blocked.
Govea was soon involved again down the left, and the 17-year-old was awarded a free-kick after being pulled back. A whipped delivery from the set-piece looked to find Fanning’s head, but it was cleared away by a Plymouth defender.
Whilst the Swans had enjoyed some good opportunities , it was the hosts who broke the deadlock inside 20 minutes.
Wilkes was the man who had the ball in the back of the net after teammate Josh Bernard's initial shot had been blocked by Kit Margetson.
Swansea had a decent spell of pressure in response. Govea’s mazy run into the box fed Josh Pescatore, but the skipper’s ball flashed across the face of goal.
Margetson then made an instinctive save to deny the Pilgrims a second, keeping a Cole Fisher effort out with his fingertips.
But the equaliser came for the Swans, and it was well deserved. Woodward teed up Davies after a lovely gliding run, and the in-form striker tapped in.
The hosts looked to hit back and Issaka was sent through one-on-one down the middle of the park but he was chased down by Fanning and Arthur Parker before dragging his shot wide.
Instead, it was the Swans who led at the break. Woodward powering in a header from a fine Harlan Perry delivery.
The Swans started the second period brightly as Griffith was denied by Dan Holman, who palmed his shot behind for a corner.
And it got better for the Swans when the referee awarded the visitors a spot-kick after Griffith was fouled by the Plymouth keeper.
Woodward stepped up and sent the keeper the wrong way to complete his brace, and score his ninth of the season in all competitions.
But the gap was closed with 10 to go as the hosts were given a penalty of their own after Jones was fouled in the box. Hatch – whose goal sent the Swans out of the competition last term – drilled it past Margetson from the spot.
Plymouth then found the equaliser through Issaka and it took a brilliant stoppage-time save from Margetson to deny Hatch a dramatic winner and ensure the Swans progressed.
Swansea City Under-18s: Kit Margetson, Jack Fanning, Arthur Parker, Jacob Cook, Teo Minchev (Iestyn Jones 45), Harlan Perry, Josh Pescatore (captain) (Osian Williams 83), Yori Griffith (Ben Phillips 66), Rohan Davies, Thomas Woodward, Aimar Govea.
Substitutes: Ewan Griffiths Aidan Higgins.