Under-18s Report | Argyle 3 Swansea City 3
Argyle’s Under-18s exited out of the PDL Cup on Saturday, despite an admirable result and resilient performance, coming from behind to draw 3-3 with Swansea City at Millennium Fields.
Fin Wilkes opened the scoring for the Young Greens on 20 minutes, following in Joe Hatch’s spilled effort, but Swansea turned the tables and got themselves in a winning position, leading 3-1.
Hatch fired home from the penalty spot to get Argyle back into the game, before Freddie Issaka drew his side level with ten minutes left on the clock. The winger's volley deflected off a Swansea defender and into the back of the net, giving Argyle hope, but despite late chances to win it, it was not to be.
The draw means that Swansea qualify from the round-robin group stage as group winners. In a group that also included Cardiff City and Bournemouth, Argyle have come through unbeaten, with draws against the two Category 2 Welsh sides, and a win against Bournemouth.
Manager Jamie Lowry made just one change to the team that beat Portsmouth in dramatic fashion last weekend.
Playmaker Caleb Roberts was unavailable and therefore replaced in the heart of midfield by Cole Fisher.
There was a noticeably scrappy start to the game with both teams struggling to get a grip on things and get the best of the early possession.
This, however, probably suited Argyle with the visitors clearly possessed players that could cause the Greens' defence all sorts of problems.
It would be Argyle that would take the lead on 20 minutes when Hatch forced a good save out of Kit Margetson that fell into the path of Wilkes. The defensive midfielder found himself in the box and able to poke the ball past the Swans keeper from yards out.
There was a warning sign of the threat the visitors possessed when just two minutes later Josh Pescatore found himself in space on the right flank. His shot, however, flashed across the face of goal and out for a goal-kick.
It was Fisher’s turn to come close minutes later when he saw a deflected effort bounce just wide of the left post and out for a corner.
Swansea showed cutting edge in the 31st minute when Tom Woodward picked out Rohan Davies in the six-yard box, and he had to just pass the ball into the back of the net, Dan Holman left with no chance, to score the equaliser.
Argyle fought back and could have take the lead again late in the first half, when Issaka was played through on goal. One-on-one with the keeper, Issaka dragged his shot inches wide of the post much to the relief of Margetson who was rooted to the spot.
Swansea would make Argyle rue this missed chance when they took the lead on the stroke of half-time through Woodward. The goalscoring midfielder’s clever run left him unmarked in the six-yard box from a corner, able to power a header home.
Lewis Colwell had a chance to level the game early on in the second period, heading just over from an Argyle corner.
It appeared, however, that the game had slipped away from Argyle after Holman took out Yori Griffith inside the box trying to collect a loose ball that came as a result of a corner, forcing the referee to award a penalty.
Woodward made no mistake from the spot and powered the ball past Holman, extending his side's lead to two.
Argyle never gave up, and after Issaka saw his free-kick crash against the crossbar, an opportunity arose for Argyle to get back in the game when they were awarded a penalty with 15 minutes left to play.
This came when Hatch was pulled to the ground by a Swans defender in an attempt to prevent him from latching onto a dangerous cross.
With usual taker Roberts absent, Hatch himself stepped up to take the kick and dispatched it well into the bottom-right corner.
Four minutes later Lowry’s side were level when a long throw was not dealt with by the visitors, allowing Issaka to take a swing at a bouncing ball.
His effort ricocheted of a Swansea defender and into the bottom-right corner past an outstretched Margetson.
With the game now level Argyle still needed another goal to win the game if they were to progress in the cup.
The moment looked to have come just minutes from time when Hatch looped a header goalward. However, Margetson pulled out a sensational save to claw the ball over the crossbar and keep the score at 3-3.
It would ultimately be this stop that saved the Swans and ensured they advanced to the quarter-finals of the PDL Cup.
The full-time whistle blew at 3-3 and Argyle were out despite a resilient, battling performance and point against a Category 2 Academy.
With this result, Lowry’s team are now five unbeaten in their last five across all competitions.
The Young Pilgrims continue their spell of cup fixtures next weekend when they face Sutton United at home in the fourth round of the Youth Alliance Cup, before facing Crystal Palace at Home Park in the FA Youth Cup in the midweek after.
Argyle: Dan Holman, Lewis Colwell, Harry Shield, Fin Wilkes, Jack Matthews, Jensen Ireland, Freddie Issaka, Josh Bernard, Joe Hatch, Cole Fisher, Tegan Finn. Substitutes not used: Toby Haley, Sam Lord, Kian Burch.