Swansea City Aston Villa Under-21s Premier League play-offs
25th April 2016
Swansea City Under-21s' tremendous first season in category one football ended with a 2-1 defeat against Aston Villa in the Division Two play-offs at the Liberty Stadium on Monday night.
Rory Hale's effort was cancelled out by Kenji Gorre's seventh goal of the season as the teams went into the break on level terms.
But Villa's second-half penalty from Rushian Hepburn-Murphy secured the win for the visitors, who progress to the play-off final against either Arsenal or Blackburn.
Gary Richards and Cameron Toshack made two changes to the side that beat Fulham.
Alex Bray replaced the injured Owain Jones up front, while Josh Vickers returned in goal for Gregor Zabret. Jay Fulton, meanwhile, continued as captain.
Goals from Oliver McBurnie, Keston Davies, Henry Jones, Dan James and Kyle Copp helped the Swans development squad beat Villa 5-0 at Landore in the League in October. The Swans, however, suffered a 2-1 reverse when the sides met again at the Banks's Stadium in February.
SWANS U21s: Josh Vickers, Aaron Lewis, Stephen Kingsley, Jay Fulton (capt), Keston Davies, Joe Rodon, Dan James, Adam King, Alex Bray (Ryan Hedges, 80), Adnan Maric (Ryan Blair, 71) Kenji Gorre.
SUBS NOT USED: Tom Holland, Oliver Davies, Alex Gogic.
ASTON VILLA U21s: Matija Sarkic, Joshua Webb, Oscar Borg, Jordan Lyden, Easah Suliman, Niall Mason, Rory Hale, Khalid Abdo, Keinan Davis (Corey Blackett-Taylor, 79), Rushian Hepburn-Murphy (Callum O'Hare, 59), Andre Green (Thomas Leggett, 90).
SUBS NOT USED: Viktor Johansson, Jordan Cox.
Swansea moved the ball well in the early stages at the Liberty Stadium, with midfielders Adam King and Daniel James seeing their early chances blocked.
Villa started to push and tested Josh Vickers in the Swans net, Rushian Hepburn-Murphy saw his effort saved before Andre Green's drive clipped the crossbar. Defender Joe Rodon denied Hepburn-Murphy with a crucial last ditch block soon after.
Alex Bray and James saw a series of shots saved just after the half-hour mark, but it was Villa who took the lead after 35 minutes when midfielder Rory Hale slotting home following Vickers' smart reflex save from Keinan Davis.
But Swansea were back on level terms just three minutes later when Kingsley found Kenji Gorre on the left wing, and he raced in on goal before and coolly slotting through the legs of keeper Matija Sarkic.
Vickers pulled off another superb save from Hepburn-Murphy just before half-time to ensure the Swans were level at the break.
HALF-TIME: Swans U21s 1 Aston Villa U21s 1
Swansea started the half brightly, and just two minutes into the restart James created a golden opportunity when he skipped away from his marker on the wing before finding Bray in the box, but his effort was blocked agonisingly on the line.
Despite the hosts' early efforts, Villa were awarded a penalty when defender Keston Davies was judged to have fouled Keinan Davis in the box. Hepburn-Murphy stepped up to put the visitors back in front.
The young Swans fought to get back on level terms, with Bray finding himself one-on-one with Sarkic only for the Villa keeper to make a huge save with his legs to keep their lead in tact.
Bray and Gorre linked up well again later in the half only for the former to see his close-range effort tipped around the post.
Swansea continued to push to take the game into extra time, with King seeing his shot blocked while substitute Ryan Blair was denied late on.
James' darting run and cut in from the left almost found an equaliser, but his powerful effort cannoned off the crossbar seconds before the full-time whistle.