Development Squad defeated in League Final
Huddersfield Town’s Under-21 side was defeated by hosts Swansea City in the 2014/15 Professional Development League 2 Play-Off Final at the Liberty Stadium on Wednesday evening.
A young Town side – the same players who had reached the League Final for the first time since the inception of the EPPP in 2012 – showed plenty of the never-say-die attitude that has been prevalent throughout the campaign, but a home side very comfortable in possession won by a single goal.
Town took the lead through 19 year-old striker Flo Bojaj, but Swansea then took charge and scored three goals. Despite this Bojaj netted a second to give the young Terriers hope, although it wasn’t to be in the end.
Despite the loss, Town’s youngsters should learn a lot from the experience. The squad contained three first year Academy scholars and just three players over 20 years old and there was plenty to like for Frankie Bunn, as well as elements to work on.
Town took kick-off and had the first shot on target inside 45 seconds; Jack Boyle testing goalkeeper Oliver Davies with a curling effort from 20 yards that was easily held.
His Under-18 teammate Jack Senior went even closer in the ninth minute with a clever effort that deceived the custodian. He made his way to the right flank from his left back slot to apparently send a free-kick towards the crowded area, but instead he tried to sneak the ball over the wall and inside the near post. The goalkeeper was nowhere near it, but the ball drifted just wide of target.
At the other end centre back William Boyle executed a superb block to deny striker Alex Samuel a clear shot at goal inside the area, but soon the young Terriers had another great opportunity to open the scoring. Joe Wilkinson’s 15th minute run and low cross found striker Bojaj in the area and he kept it moving to strike partner Rekeil Pyke, but the first year scholar snatched at the opportunity and choked a shot straight at the goalkeeper from just eight yards.
Billing soon smashed the ball across the face of goal after a great passing move before Sondre Tronstad smashed a pile-driver at the goalkeeper from 25 yards.
Then the goal came, courtesy of another superb free-kick from Senior. His delivery – again from the right – was excellent and allowed first year professional Bojaj to flick a header past the diving goalkeeper at the far post for his seventh of the Under-21 campaign.
As the half progressed, Swansea began to boss possession and they probably deserved their equaliser when it came.
Former Exeter midfielder Matt Grimes – a man who commanded a reported seven figure fee from Exeter City – tried his luck from range on several occasions only for Allinson to make routine saves, but it was his passing that was causing bigger issues.
First he played Kenji Gorre – son of former Town hero Dean – into the area, courtesy of a half-block by Wilkinson, but Allinson came out to make a good smothering block.
However, his contribution in the 42nd minute did setup the equaliser for striker Samuel. Town cleared a corner to the edge of the box, but Duane Holmes didn’t protect the ball properly – allowing Grimes to gain possession. His cross evaded everyone and hit the far post before bouncing into the path of the striker, who nodded into the empty net.
Gorre forced Allinson into action with a curling effort ten minutes into the second-half with a curling shot, but then Holmes had a golden opportunity through his own doing. His trademark surging run through the heart of the defence and a one-two with Bojaj set him clear into the area, but the goalkeeper managed to push his attempted chip home over the crossbar.
Gorre made Town pay for that let-off in the 64th minute. Finding space in the centre of the park, he collected a low pass and turned past two defenders onto his preferred right foot before steering the ball past Allinson from inside the area.
The home side controlled the ball well thereafter and looked to have sealed the win with six minutes left. Town were robbed of possession in the centre of the pitch and Swansea quickly fed Gorre, who got inside the area to slot home his second of the game.
However, Town made a game of it two minutes later. Bojaj was Town’s standout performer on the evening and fully deserved his second of the game; a left-footed snapshot from the edge of the area that beat the goalkeeper, despite him getting a hand to the ball.
Town threw bodies forward in search of an equaliser and Pyke, Bojaj and Senior all had shots that were saved or blocked, but in the end the home side prevailed.
Town’s U21 team:
Lloyd Allinson, Joe Wilkinson (c) (Regan Booty, 90+3), Jack Senior, Duane Holmes, William Boyle, Joe Wright, Sondre Tronstad, Jack Boyle (Ronan Coughlan, 80), Rekeil Pyke, Flo Bojaj, Philip Billing (Jake Charles, 75)
Ed Wilczynski, Danny Kane
Joe Wright (42); William Boyle (53)