Swansea City under-23s finished their Premier League 2 season in fourth place tonight with a narrow but dominating 1-0 victory against Sunderland thanks to a second-half headed goal by George Byers.
The midfielder nodded over the opposition goalkeeper just 7 minutes into the second half for his ninth of the season, confirming Sunderland’s relegation.
The Swans made four changes from the 1-0 defeat at Arsenal, switching to a 4-4-2 diamond system:
Lewis – Harries (c), Cabango, Blake
It was a dominating first half from Toshack’s side but without making too many strides in front of goal, but they did have their best chance of the first half within the first five minutes. The ball took a fortunate deflection off a Sunderland defender as they tried to clear the ball out of the box. Cullen was able to get into a one-on-one situation but the keeper did well to make a save.
George Byers was the player making things happen where it matters most. Before having a decent shot blocked from around 18 yards, he then saw an effort hit the woodwork after fizzing in a curling shot from a wide-right free-kick.
It was like a training session for the Swans up until this point. Sunderland, much like the senior Swans side at the Etihad, were simply sitting back – with every player in their own half and inviting the hosts in.
Jack Evans again looks like a Leon Britton or Roque Mesa type player, playing the deep role at the base of the diamond. Moving into the spaces and picking the ball up from his defenders. They all looked more than comfortable with the ball at their feet and were technically brilliant at times but it’s just that lack of killer pass and instinct in front of goal that can let us down.
The goal was always coming though as surely our pressure and dominance would count at some point in the game, and it did on 52 minutes. We sent a long, direct ball towards the box that the Sunderland defence struggled to deal with, Baker-Richardson helped the ball on, the goalkeeper hesitated and Byers nodded over him to give us a well-deserved 1-0 lead.
— Swansea City AFC (@SwansOfficial) April 23, 2018
Sunderland tried to get back into the game after making a double substitution, but barring the odd moment here and there, they never really looked like levelling.
At the other end, the Swans should have guaranteed the win with a second goal. Substitute Biabi got into some good positions inside the penalty area but at times took the wrong option, and Maric also blazed a shot over.
George Byers kept fans guessing last night with this tweet, does it mean anything!? It’s worth pointing out that he’s out of contract this summer, along with:
Players out of contract in the Summer:
- Botti Biabi
- Matic Paljk
- Jack Evans
- Causso Darame
- Mael Davies
No one can predict the future. You have to make your own future ?? pic.twitter.com/wrTRnwdSKL
— George Byers (@G_byers) April 22, 2018
1-0 Win against Sunderland to finish the season on a high! Happy to score another and help the team.. Boys were class as they have been all season ??⚽️ @SwansOfficial
— George Byers (@G_byers) April 23, 2018
Great finish to the league season with a win against Sunderland at the Liberty. Thanks to the fans that came down. Onto semi final of the cup now on Friday!!⚽️?? @SwansOfficial
— Aaron Lewis (@aaronjameslewis) April 23, 2018
Here's how the #PL2 Division 1 table looks after the latest round of fixtures…
Will Liverpool reclaim second place with a win against Chelsea on 8 May? ? pic.twitter.com/bCe5Lnvw64
— PL Youth (@PLYouth) April 23, 2018
Swans U23s: Steven Benda, Aaron Lewis, Matthew Blake, Jack Evans, Cian Harries (capt), Ben Cabango, Adnan Marić, Marco Dulca (Daniel James, 78), Courtney Baker- Richardson (Botti Biabi, 68), George Byers, Liam Cullen (Kieran Evans, 86).
Subs not used: Gregor Zabret, Keston Davies.
Sunderland U23s: Max Stryjek, Owen Gamble, Denver Hume (capt), Adam Bale, Brandon Taylor, Alex Storey, Jack Diamond (Williams Kokolo, 73), Elliot Embleton, Luke Molyneux, Bali Mumba (Lee Connelly, 73), Benji Kimpioka (Connor Shields, 66).
Subs not used: Rayed Derbali, Anthony Patterson.