Under-18s v Swansea City (H) | Preview
Argyle Under-18s go into their final PDL Cup group stage match with Swansea City this weekend, knowing that a win will send them through to the next stage.
The Swans are top of the group with six points from their two games, with Argyle next on four. The Greens have already drawn Cardiff City, with whom they drew 1-1, and Bournemouth, who Argyle beat 4-1.
The Young Pilgrims have already performed admirably in the competition, against perennial opponents Bournemouth, who are consistently a top-performing side, as well as the Category 2 Academies of Swansea and Cardiff. A victory on Saturday afternoon would represent a huge achievement.
Swansea will be a difficult opponent, though, as under-18s boss Jamie Lowry well knows.
He said: “They are a very technical team, like you would expect from their DNA, in terms of how they've been since the Roberto Martinez era. They pass the ball really well, they have very technical players who handle the ball and are very creative going forward. It will be a really good challenge for the boys.
“We’ve prepped like we always do, throughout the week, on how we think we can win the game. We're going in nice and positive, we want to be on the front foot and really take the game to them, knowing that we need to win to go through. We're expecting a really good challenge, and the boys are really looking forward to it.”
The game begins a run of consecutive games in different cup competitions, with action in the Under-17 Floodlit Cup, a Youth Alliance Cup match at home to Sutton United and then the FA Youth Cup third round tie at Home Park against Crystal Palace.
Jamie is welcoming the change of pace, and in particular the chance that cup runs give to play teams of a different level who can raise standards all round.
“The league is so relentless, and it is the same teams continuously,” he said. “It's nice to have that break, and it shows that the boys are doing well, that they are in lots of competitions to have a go at. Playing some different teams, challenging themselves against some better teams, is a good thing.
“In the games programme, the boys play the same teams from under-9s to under-18s.
“Against Category 2 sides, you can tell the speed and quality of the players, that's what I like about that level, and I think that's what the boys enjoy the most, that challenge of coming up and testing themselves against better players and better teams. They always rise to that challenge.
“We want to be at that level, we want to be playing against Swansea and Cardiff and Bournemouth and Crystal Palace week in, week out, if possible, to make the boys better, to play against good players and good teams. Hopefully, it'll be more of a regular thing if they keep being successful in these competitions.”