Swansea City Under-23s Middlesbrough
12th September 2016
Swansea City Under-23s fell to their first defeat of the season in Premier League 2 (Division 2) following a 2-1 loss against Middlesbrough at Victoria Park on Monday.
After a goalless first half, Boro striker Arnel Jakupovic broke the deadlock with a low shot into the corner of the goal.
The Swans leveled five minutes later as Oli McBurnie's pressure on the defence forced defender Mark Kitching to nudge past his own keeper.
Despite more pressure from the Swans it was the home side who took all three points when winger Callum Cooke fired home at the near post in the final minutes.
Swansea City Under-23s made four changes to the side that beat West Ham in Premier League 2 last month.
Young defender Aaron Lewis returned at left-back while Ryan Blair and Alex Bray started in midfield.
Striker Oli McBurnie made his first start for the development squad since the opening-day win at home against West Brom in August.
The Swans' only overage player was 25-year-old Australian international Mark Birighitti, who replaced the injured Gregor Zabret between the sticks.
MIDDLESBROUGH U23s: Aynsley Pears, Callum Johnson, Niall McGoldrick, Jordan McGhee, Mark Kitching, Robbie Tinkler (capt), Joao Morelli, Bryn Morris, Arnel Jakupovic, Alexander Pattison (Marcus Tavernier, 79), Callum Cooke.
SUBS NOT USED: Thomas McAloon, Matthew Elsdon, Junior Mondal, Joseph Fryer.
SWANS U23s: Mark Birighitti, Tyler Reid, Aaron Lewis, Ryan Blair (Jack Evans, 82), Keston Davies (capt), Joe Rodon, Alex Bray, Adnan Maric, Oli McBurnie, Tom Holland (Jordan Garrick, 64), Owain Jones (Botti Biabi, 87).
SUBS NOT USED: Ross Treacy, Tom Plezier.
It was Swansea who had the better of the opening exchanges at Victoria Park as the frontmen kept Boro pinned in their final third for the majority of the opening 15 minutes.
Oli McBurnie and Ryan Blair went closest for Swansea but their shots were comfortably saved by Aynsley Pears in the Middlesbrough net.
The Swans' best chance of the half came after 21 minutes as winger Alex Bray's header at the near post was palmed away by Pears.
At the other end, Alexander Pattison's deflected shot came back off the post to ensure the score stayed level at the half-hour mark.
Aaron Lewis' pass from the left flank then found Owain Jones in the box, however, the winger's shot just off target.
Swans keeper Mark Birighitti denied Pattison before McBurnie saw his 19-yard free-kick strike the post seconds before the break.
HALF-TIME: Middlesbrough U23s 0 - 0 Swans U23s
Both sides looked determined to break the deadlock in the second half with Adnan Maric and Arnel Jakupovic going close in the first ten minutes.
The home side looked dangerous on the attack as Birighitti was relieved to see Callum Cooke's shot go wide on the hour mark.
Bray then saw his shot saved by Pears before Boro's Joao Morelli hit the crossbar, while the Swans winger then carved his way past two players before seeing his powerful shot topped around the post.
Despite the Swans' chances it was Middlesbrough who took the lead as striker Jakupovic drilled a low shot into the bottom corner from the edge of the area.
Swansea were level five minutes later as a through ball from Bray and good pressure from McBurnie forced Boro defender Mark Kitching to tap past his own keeper.
The game opened up once again but it was the home side who would take all three points as influential winger Cooke held up the ball in the box before rifling home at the near post five minutes before the final whistle.