Our U18s claimed all three points in the first game of the 22/23 campaign with a 2-1 victory over Swansea City.
Goals from Josiah Dyer and Emmaisa Nzondo were enough for the young Reds to claim all three points in Nicky Eaden’s first game in charge at the Oakwell Training Ground.
Succeeding the first whistle, our U18s instantly began asserting pressure on the visitors. An early chance from Rafael Monteiro in the eighth minute set the precedent for the game, with his long shot pushed away by the opposing goalkeeper.
Soon after, the deadlock was broken, and Barnsley pulled ahead. A perfect cross from Hayden Pickard picked out Dyer, who made no mistake heading the ball past the goalkeeper. The forward’s towering effort emphatically put the Reds ahead and defined how they wanted the game to go.
The visitors were accosted with chance after chance, with efforts from Mylan Benjamin, Pickard and Dyer all testing the goalkeeper.
It wasn’t until the 33rd minute that Swansea registered their first shot on target. A mix-up at the back led to Jonathan Bland catching his man just inside the box, gifting the away team a penalty. However, an inspired bit of goalkeeping from Rogan Ravenhill denied Josh Carey from the spot. The young ‘keeper flew to his right and clawed the ball away from the goal, maintaining the Reds’ lead.
Minutes later, Ravenhill impressed again with an entirely different form of goalkeeping as he swept up the ball just inside his own half before pinging a pass to Benjamin in a picture-perfect example of how to be a sweeper keeper.
HALF-TIME: Barnsley 1-0 Swansea City
The second half began the same way the first went, with constant Barnsley pressure and our U18s almost doubled their lead shortly after the interval. A nice bout of passing play set Benjamin up for a shot outside the box on his left foot. The forward took his chance but was inches away from the top corner, unfortunately seeing his effort ricochet off the crossbar.
Eaden looked to his bench in the sweltering South Yorkshire heat and opted for a tactical triple substitution, with Nzondo, Leo Farrell and Luis Lacey all making their way onto the pitch.
Swansea eventually, and controversially, equalised in the 73d minute. A real scramble in the box with multiple chances being blocked led to the ball falling to Iwan Morgan, who finished into an empty net. The Reds shouted for offside due to Ravenhill being on the edge of the six-yard box and only Astin Brace being between the City attacker and the goal when the ball was played, however, the flag stayed down and the visitors levelled the score.
Despite conceding, the Barnsley players continued as they had done before the goal occurred. Insistent and positive play pushed the team forwards and eventually granted them the goal they needed.
The Reds deservedly grabbed their goal to seal the game in the 87th minute. More constant pressure from the home team eventually steered the ball to Josh McKay. The right wing-back’s cross from the left-hand side of the pitch fell to freshly subbed on Nzondo who poked the ball past a helpless goalkeeper. The forward instantly and justifiably ran off towards the stand to celebrate with his teammates, passionately showing how much that goal meant to everyone involved.
It was a perfect example of how challenging work pays out from the young Reds, who’s efforts on the pitch in 34-degree weather was second to none. Our U18s gave it their all and were rightly given all three points to start their 22/23 Professional Development League campaign.
FULL-TIME: Barnsley 2-1 Swansea City
REDS XI: Ravenhill (GK), McKay, Pickard, Bland, Brace, Joof, Monteiro, Makiessi, Dyer, Yoganathan, Benjamin.
Subs: Trialist (GK), Anaman, Lacey, Farrell, Nzondo.