Rachel Malloch – @RachelVillavox
Plainmoor in the late afternoon sunshine is a quite beautiful thing, and with the pitch looking verdant and a far cry from last season’s ground share allotment, the stage was set for this penultimate pre-season friendly against Swansea U23s. Whilst their older brothers were a few miles up the M5 playing against ol’ sparring partners Bristol Rovers, their young under studies were in TQ1 eager to prove their worth and status as the next breakthrough act. That was apparent from the whistle as they chased and harried for every ball. It is a testament to what will most likely be the starting XI on the 3rd August v Boreham Wood (with the exception of the absent Niate through injury today) that they were an equal match for the young Swans’ exuberance.
Let’s not forget that Torquay Utd too is a young team in the main steadied by the older head of captain Asa Hall, who wasted little time imposing his experience by his industrious midfield play. Keeping it tidy and simple, Asa was rewarded by scoring the first goal of the game, a neat attacking move swept in – picking up a helpful detection on the way.
Both teams approached the game with a keenness to impress, Armani Little looking assured on the ball in the middle, Ben Wynter playing with the maturity and confidence that being a vital part of a league title win imbues, Vincent tracking back and defending in an experimental full back role, Matt Buse covering in a deep midfield position, Cameron shepherding the defensive line, Kalvin Lumbombo Kalala displaying sublime touches and some Arthurian wizardry, the forward pairing of Duku and Reid not altogether connecting today relying more on Ruairi Keating’s darting runs and aerial command but that said, the team are looking good.
A sweetly struck Little free-kick and a well worked passing build-up creating Duku’s first goal for the club to go with Hall’s, all made for a very satisfying first half.
Inevitably Swansea came out with added vigour in the 2nd half and were placing the ball and moving quickly off it making it more difficult for Torquay to get a foothold on the game. Andrews on for Duku the only change, pushing the impressive Keating up front with Reid. Then some sloppy play from the Torquay captain, penalty awarded and converted despite MacDonald’s best efforts guessing the right way. More lapses in defence and another goal for Swansea. Our own academy player who has risen up to senior level Olaf Koszela came on for the hard working Matt Buse and was involved in some good build-up play, looking strong and capable.
This Swansea U23s are a very lively skilful team with some real talent on display and plenty of pace. Encouragingly Torquay were more than a match for their pace and youthful guile. Keating impressed, meanwhile Reid was subdued, a lacklustre performance from our normally reliable goal machine.
MacDonald was sharp throughout and had to be alert to what has to be said once again are a very promising set of young Swansea players who changed and rotated – but for some naïve finishing and MacDonald’s alertness they could have scored more, while Gary Johnson stuck to the task of taking the opportunity of looking at his preferred first team for the 90 minutes.
Reid will have better games as will Duku, the midfield have great energy and vision, the defence even without Niate held strong but for some casual lapses of concentration. MacDonald looks sharp and alert as ever, Wynter was outstanding at right back, and Kalala will be our mercurial entertainer. Buse I’m hoping will be announced soon as part of the set-up, whilst Vincent could be vital with his versatility. All in all, a confidence booster for the new season.
Attendance 874 (11 Swansea) the rest were up the road at Bristol Rovers.
MacDonald 7/10 – comfortable and alert
Wynter 8/10 – superb, playing with confidence
Vincent 7/10 – deputised well in experimental full back position
Cameron 7/10 – calm and assured
Hall 7/10 – industrious while playing in a defensive/sweeper role
Buse 6/10 – hard working and tracking back to help the defence.
Little 7/10 – brilliant first half, quieter 2nd.
Kalala 7/10 – some lovely touches, joyous at times
Keating 8/10 – tireless and involved in everything attack-minded
Duku 6/10 – decent movement, took his chance and got his goal.
Reid 5/10 – uncharacteristically lacklustre
Andrews 5/10 – not able to impose himself on the game when coming on
Olaf Koszela 6/10 – plenty of effort
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