Season in review 2020-21 | Swansea City Under-18s
The 2020-21 season proved to be a challenging but productive one for Swansea City’s under-18 squad.
The club’s decision to downgrade to a category two academy last summer meant the under-18s would play in the Professional Development League for the first time in four years.
For most of the season, their fortunes were overseen by Anthony Wright, who was replaced by Byron Anthony at the start of March after stepping up to assist the returning Kris O’Leary with the under-23s side.
The ongoing Coronavirus pandemic meant that training bubbles observed strict protocols at Fairwood and Landore.
This would have a frequent impact on team selection, especially with the postponement of non-elite sport in Wales meaning under-16s were forced to wait until the turn of the year for their chance to step up and shine.
But upon their return, several were handed regular opportunities to do just that with the under-18s; the likes of Ben Lloyd, Joel Cotterill and Iwan Morgan producing a string of impressive performances.
Daniel Watts, Jada Mawongo, Sebastian Dabrowski and Geoff Bony – son of former Swansea striker Wilfried – also frequently featured towards the tail-end of the campaign.
Well over 30 players were utilised during the season as the under-18s finished eighth in Professional Development League South.
They also reached the FA Youth Cup fourth round for the first time in three years.
Following a hard-fought 2-1 victory over Queens Park Rangers in round three – with Morgan Clarke scoring a dramatic winner – the Swans were unfortunate to go down 1-0 in a closely fought tie against Middlesbrough at Landore.
Summer arrivals Harry Jones and Adrian Akande – from Arsenal and Chelsea respectively – quickly settled into their new surroundings; earning first professional contracts within a few months.
Seven-goal striker Josh Thomas also earned a maiden pro deal, as well as his first taste of senior football during a brief loan spell with Cardiff Met.
The first-year pros also impressed. Kai Ludvigsen looked solid as he regularly partnered skipper Scott Butler in the heart of defence, though untimely longer-term injuries prevented the likes of Josh Edwards and Ruben Davies from really kicking on and building on their promise.
Nevertheless, attacking midfielder Cameron Congreve made a big impression during his maiden full season at this level; top-scoring with eight goals including a delicious free-kick in May’s 3-1 win over Crewe.
Having taken over the reins in March, Anthony will be encouraged by the exciting potential at his disposal.
And he will be optimistic that the 2021-22 season – his first full campaign in charge – will provide his players with further opportunities for progression and development as they strive towards earning professional contracts.