Swans beat Cardiff to reach Youth Cup final
Oli Cooper was the hero as Swansea City Under-19s beat Cardiff City 1-0 to book their place in the FAW Youth Cup final.
The forward scored what proved to be the winner in the 44th minute as he dispossessed goalkeeper George Ratcliffe before slotting into the empty net.
That was enough to settle a repeat of the 2018 final and ensure that the Swans remained on course for a 10th consecutive title.
The Swans named a strong side with all 11 of the starting line-up having been involved with the under-23s this season.
They made a bright start and went close to scoring inside the opening three minutes when Cooper hit the post following a patient build-up.
Mason Jones-Thomas then fired wide from a tight angle, before Joel Bagan was well-placed to clear Cooper’s attempted lob off the line.
Jones-Thomas had a great chance to break the deadlock in the 22nd minute, but his touch was too heavy after Cooper had won possession on the edge of the Cardiff area.
The Swans were almost made to pay seconds later with Ben Cabango making a crucial last-ditch intervention to deny Dan Griffiths.
Cardiff gradually grew into the contest with Griffiths sending an acrobatic effort just over the crossbar, while Keenan Patten wasn’t too far off-target with his driven attempt from distance.
However, the Swans finally made the breakthrough in the closing stages of the first half.
Cooper appeared to be chasing a lost cause when he ran after Cameron Evans’ hopeful long ball forward. Nevertheless, he showed tremendous desire to steal the ball from Ratcliffe before slotting into the empty net.
They went close to adding a second after the break as Jones-Thomas almost connected with Kees De Boer’s deflected cross, while Simon Paulet narrowly misplaced his attempted through ball that would have released De Boer on goal.
At the other end, Nathan Shepperd held onto Sam Bowen’s effort from range, but the Swans keeper was generally untroubled as his team-mates professionally saw out the game and moved to within one victory of a 10th consecutive title.
Swans: Nathan Shepperd, Tivonge Rushesha, Ben Cabango, Cameron Evans (capt), Brandon Cooper, Matthew Blake, Tom Price, Cameron Berry (Simon Paulet, 62), Kees De Boer (Will Rickard, 79), Oli Cooper, Mason Jones-Thomas.
Subs not used: Scott Reed, Jack Withers, Jayden Reid.