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Parrott double boosts Under-23s' survival hopes

Swansea 1-2 Spurs (Premier League 2)

Mon 15 April 2019, 21:18|Tottenham Hotspur

A well-taken brace from Troy Parrott gave our hopes of survival in the Premier League 2 a major lift as our Under-23s ran out 2-1 winners over Swansea City on Monday night.

Parrott had opened the scoring on 40 minutes at the Liberty Stadium with a stunning free-kick - his first goal at Under-23 level - before Liam Cullen put the Swans back on terms with a close-range strike five minutes later.

It was to be our night in South Wales, however, as Parrott would grab his second of the game with just 10 minutes left, putting us two points clear of the relegation places with one game remaining.

With both sides sitting in the drop zone before the game, the clash began as frantically as you would expect any relegation ‘six-pointer’ to – both teams pressed hard for any sniff of an early advantage while the defences were certainly feeling the tension. We certainly enjoyed the better start as both Parrott - one of five Under-18 scholars in the starting line-up - and Shilow Tracey went close within the opening six minutes. However, that bright opening could have easily gone the other way as the home side nearly made the breakthrough themselves, with Kieran Evans firing just wide from the edge of the box.

It had been an electric start to the game but play soon calmed down as we looked to get control of the ball and enjoy a sustained spell of possession. Chances from open play became few and far between in the game and so, it was to be from a dead ball situation that we eventually found the lead. Having made good progress to carry the ball to the edge of the box, Parrott was brought down by Ben Cabango and once the referee had awarded the free-kick, the striker dusted himself down before curling a sumptuous effort into the top left-hand corner of the net - his second free-kick in as many games after scoring another beauty for the Under-18s at Chelsea last week.

That lead, however, was to last just five minutes as Cullen found space in the box to strike past Brandon Austin, sending the teams in level at the half-way stage. Then, immediately after the restart, the home side nearly turned the game on its head as Mason Jones-Thomas was released in on goal. With just Austin to beat, the winger struck a fierce shot, but the keeper would not be beaten again as he got down quickly to keep the game level.

We knew we had to put a decent performance in. We showed belief tonight, we showed willingness, a want and a desire.

Wayne Burnett

From that moment, the Swans would have little say in proceedings as when the heavens began to open, the chances began to rain down in our favour. Dilan Markanday had the first, coming just moments after Austin’s crucial intervention at the other end, as, from 25 yards out, he cannoned the ball off the post. Shortly after, Roles was the next to try his luck as, when he spotted the home side’s keeper off his line, he attempted an audacious strike to find the target from the half-way line but was unlucky to see his effort fly just over the crossbar.

Then, perhaps the best chance in that flurry of opportunities fell to Parrott as he found himself in space in the box but, despite having already found a way past Swans’ goalkeeper Steven Benda, the striker’s near-post effort was smothered well by the shot stopper.

The more the chances came and the more we failed to convert them, the more it looked like we would have to settle for a point, especially when Roles managed to create an exact replica of Parrott’s strike. Even central defender Japhet Tanganga managed to get in on the siege of the Swansea goal but his thunderbolt of an effort from 30 yards whistled inches over the bar.

Knowing the importance of a winner, though, we did not relent in our pursuit of that precious goal – an attitude and determination that paid off just 10 minutes from time. Markanday made great progress down the wing before picking out Parrott in the box and the striker did the rest as he turned his man before firing into the bottom corner of the net to seal a vital three points. With West Ham held 2-2 at Derby, we leapfrogged our London rivals out of the drop zone to regain the upper hand in the battle to avoid relegation with one round of matches still to play. The result also ended Swansea's faint hopes of staying up - they cannot now finish anywhere other than at the foot of the standings.

Key moment

Plenty of opportunities came our way in the second period but as the game drifted on, the chances of us finding a way to collect all three points appeared to be slipping away.

However, we were to reap the rewards of our patience and persistence as, with 10 minutes to go, Parrott kept his composure in the box before firing home a crucial goal to make sure we claimed maximum points, giving us a real chance of securing our survival going into the last game against Derby later this month.

Coach's view

Under-23s Coach Wayne Burnett was delighted by the desire his team showed in battling to the very end to put their Premier League 2 fate back in their own hands.

“It was an important win,” Wayne admitted. “It’s given us an opportunity now to have our destiny in our own hands, to a degree. If we win our last game of the season against Derby County, we stay up. I’d like to say we would be pleased with that outcome and we will be pleased if we stay up but, looking forward, we want to be in a much better position than we have been.

“It was a very good team performance tonight with some good individual performances within that, so I’m really pleased that we managed to win at a place that’s not easy to come to. It was a thoroughly-deserved win.

“We were always looking a threat in the game. We defended resolutely, we attacked quickly and it was a much better team performance, a complete contrast to our previous performance (a 3-0 home defeat to Blackburn Rovers). We knew we had to put a decent performance in. We showed belief tonight, we showed willingness, a want and a desire, and I always believed we were going to come away victorious.”

Swansea 1-2 Spurs (Premier League 2)

Swansea City: Benda, Reid, Govea (Cooper 79), De Boer (Maric 84), Harries (c), Cabango, Jones-Thomas, Paulet, Cullen, Evans, Garrick (King 59). Substitutes (not used): Zabret, Price.

Spurs: Austin, Hinds, White, Marsh (Patterson 79), Tanganga (c), Lyons-Foster, Markanday, Bowden, Parrott, Roles (Shashoua 88), Tracey (Oakley-Boothe 70). Substitutes (not used): De, Bie, Dinzeyi.

Match data

Goals: Swansea – Cullen 45; Spurs – Parrott 40, 80.

Yellow cards: Swansea – Harries 15, Cabango 39, Paulet 75; Spurs – Tracey 56, Parrott 69.

Referee: Richard Hulme.

Venue: Liberty Stadium.

Weather: Cloudy with light rain, 12 degrees.