Report | Swansea City U23s 1 PSV Eindhoven Youth 1
Liam Cullen’s stunning strike gave Swansea City Under-23s a fully deserved share of the spoils in their Premier League International Cup opener.
The development side, who have endured a difficult sequence of results, had trailed to Cyril Ngonge’s 33rd-minute effort at Landore following an excellent counter- attack from PSV.
But the Swans grew in confidence and they got their reward when Cullen picked his spot from near the edge of the box to find the top corner with his left foot.
Cameron Toshack and Gary Richards almost saw their side snatch all three points in their first Group D fixture, with Cullen and Jacob Jones going close to a winner against opponents who reached the final of the competition in 2016.
Looking to bounce back from their heavy league defeat at Reading on Monday, the Swans nearly led inside 100 seconds.
Captain Jack Evans and Jordon Garrick forced an error from the visitors and when the latter set-up the former seconds later, Evans saw his shot saved by Lars Unnerstall in the PSV goal.
Swansea pressed well in the opening exchanges, but they received a warning when Ibrahim Afellay – the ex-Barcelona and Stoke midfielder – sprayed a pass out to Oliver Horvath.
The Hungarian winger’s cross threatened to find a team-mate, but Tivonge Rushesha was alert enough to clear.
With 19 minutes gone the Dutch side got in again, but Brandon Cooper made an excellent covering challenge to deny Claudio Gomes and allow Josh Gould to clean up.
However, Swansea’s disciplined pressing was proving effective in keeping their opponents – who ply their trade in the second tier of Dutch professional football – at arm’s length.
They also offered a threat when they countered, and they had penalty shouts waved away when Garrick went down under pressure from Baggio Wallenburg in the area.
Cullen’s clever movement then worked the forward space for a shot, but the angle was against him and Unnerstall made the save at his near post.
But it was the visitors who grabbed the opening goal through Ngonge on 33 minutes, after a rapid counter-attack caught the Swans short of numbers.
The striker showed his pace and strength to hold off Cooper and beat Gould with a low shot.
Swansea responded, skipper Evans producing a lovely ball to find Garrick, but Cullen and Oli Cooper could not finish in a goalmouth melee following the winger’s cross.
It meant the hosts remained behind at the break, but went close to levelling shortly after the resumption as Mason Jones-Thomas escaped thanks to a Jones pass, with the winger’s cross just failing to pick out a white shirt.
At the other end Christopher Gloster cut into the area, but saw his effort blocked by Cooper.
Swansea were on the front foot and they had more penalty appeals turned down just after the hour mark, following a goalmouth scramble in which the ball appeared to strike a PSV hand.
Josh Thomas and Keiran Evans were soon introduced from the bench, and the former’s pace soon caused problems.
And the 16-year-old played a part in the equaliser with 13 minutes remaining. His cross was deflected to Dan Williams, who unselfishly laid it off for Cullen to find the top corner in emphatic fashion.
Cullen was in on goal again seconds later, but Unnerstall made the save, before Jones sent a free header wide from the resulting corner as the Dutch side held off a late Swansea onslaught.
Swansea City: Josh Gould; Tivonge Rushesha, Cameron Evans, Brandon Cooper, Jacob Jones; Jack Evans (captain) (Simon Paulet 87), Dan Williams; Jordon Garrick (Keiran Evans 63), Oli Cooper, Mason Jones-Thomas (Josh Thomas 63); Liam Cullen.
Subs: Lewis Webb, Matthew Blake, Kees de Boer, Jake Thomas, Keiran Evans.