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MATCH PREVIEW: Town gear up for Papa John’s campaign

Scott Lindsey’s side braced for the visit of a youthful Crystal Palace as Group E gets underway…

29 August 2022

Club News

MATCH PREVIEW: Town gear up for Papa John’s campaign

Scott Lindsey’s side braced for the visit of a youthful Crystal Palace as Group E gets underway…

29 August 2022

Swindon Town welcome Crystal Palace Under-21s to The County Ground this evening as the Papa John’s Trophy gets underway for the new 2022/23 season.

Scott Lindsey’s side will be looking to make a winning start to their group against The Eagles next generation, with further ties against League One duo Bristol Rovers and Plymouth Argyle coming up.

Here’s the lowdown on our first opponents, with the action set to get underway at 7pm tomorrow evening, Tuesday 30 August.

Background...

The Eagles Under-21s are the development side of Crystal Palace and compete in Premier League 2 Division One – the top level of reserve football in England, while of course, also participating in the EFL Trophy.

Over the years, the squad has helped nurture talents such as current star Wilfried Zaha and the likes of Wayne Routledge and Nathaniel Clyne.

Other familiar names to have plied their trade at an early age through the clubs youth ranks also include Kenny Sansom and current England boss Gareth Southgate.

The sides most recent success came during the 2020/21 campaign, when they won the Premier League 2 Play-offs.

Before that you had to go back to the 2002/03 season during their Football Combination days, where they were champions that year, and runners-up the year before.

There has been success in the FA Youth Cup, where the club claimed the trophy during the 1976/77 and 1977/78 seasons.

Their Under-18s have also made big strides recently, narrowly missing out on promotion during 2020/21 by finishing the term as runners-up.

The Stadium…

The Under-21s split their competitive matches between the official Training Ground, located in the heart of Beckenham, which can hold around a thousand spectators, and Selhurst Park, which holds 24,486.

Previous EFL Trophy campaigns for the opposition…

Last term marked the first time Crystal Palace Under-21s had entered the EFL Trophy.

Pitted in a group alongside Sutton United, Portsmouth and AFC Wimbledon for the 2021/22 campaign, The young Eagles finished bottom of the standings after their three matches.

An opening day 3-0 defeat away at Sutton was followed by a 2-0 victory away at The Dons.

They then rounded off the first stage with a 3-0 defeat at the hands of Pompey.

Towns previous two EFL Trophy runs…

Swindon enjoyed a successful group stage campaign last season in the competition, finishing top of the pile for 2021/22, winning all of their three matches.

That included a victory over Arsenal’s Under-21s with Mo Dabre on the score sheet that evening, followed by a 3-1 away win at Plymouth Argyle, who’ll they’ll face again this time around.

An own goal alongside strikes from Jayden Mitchell-Lawson and Harry McKirdy helped Town claim the points that day.

Jordan Lyden then scored the only goal of the game in a narrow 1-0 win at home to Newport County in the final group instalment.

However, Town exited the competition in Round Two, losing out 2-1 to Colchester United at The County Ground, with Romoney Crichlow’s solo effort proving in vein as the visitors scored twice within the first eleven minutes.

The season before that, 2020/21, Town just missed out on progression from the group phase, as they finished third, locked on the same number of points as Forest Green Rovers who finished second, and West Bromwich Albion’s Under-21s who ended the campaign bottom.

A narrow 3-2 home defeat by The Baggies young guns at SN1 meant Town started with a defeat.

That was then followed by a seven goal thriller of which they were on the wrong end of, eventually going down 4-3 at The County Ground.

Their only points of the first stage were claimed away at Forest Green with a 1-0 victory.

The manager…

Palace’s Under-21s are managed by former player Paddy McCarthy.

The 39-year-old took over from Shaun Derry back in 2021, making the step up from the Under-18s, and now works closely with First-Team Head Coach Patrick Vieira to provide him with updates on the clubs shining stars.

McCarthy spent eight years at Selhurst Park as a player between 2008 and 2016, making 134 appearances for the club, scoring on six occasions.

During a fifteen year playing career, the Dubliner began life in the Manchester City academy before going on to play for the likes of Leicester City, Charlton Athletic, Sheffield United and Bolton Wanderers.

He also appeared 17 times for his country at youth level, donning the colours of Republic of Ireland at Under-17 and Under-21 level, and appearing once for their B team.

Their season thus far…

It’s been an encouraging start for McCarthy’s young side in their respective league campaign.

They currently sit second in the Premier League 2 Division One table with three wins from their opening four games.

Last weekend saw them come from behind to snatch a late winner to overcome Wolves at home after suffering an early setback.

A 2-2 draw away at Fulham is the only league points they’ve dropped so far, with an opening day 3-2 win over Brighton and a 5-1 thrashing of Manchester United beforehand.

Ones to watch…

John-Kymani Gordon is proving their main source of goals at present, with the striker netting three so far in the league.

He’s closely followed by the exciting Killian Phillips, a 20-year-old American-born Irish midfielder who knows where the goal is with two to his name in four games thus far.

Another attacking option at McCarthy’s disposal is 20-year-old Rob Street, who has EFL experience having had a loan spell at Newport County last term.

Victor Akinwale can also prove a menace in the box if he features. He’s appeared for the majority of Palace’s academy age groups, and struck 24 goals in 25 games last season for their Under-18s, and is already off the mark having been promoted to the next age group up.

We could even see a few of Patrick Vieira’s current crop which are in and around the first team fold.

Kaden Rodney, at just 17, was on the bench at the weekend as Palace went down 4-2 to Manchester City, while recent Derby recruit Malcolm Ebiowei, who was coveted by several big clubs in the summer before opting for Selhurst Park, could be included.

He’s already featured in the Premier League this season, coming off the bench in their opening day defeat at home to Arsenal earlier this month.


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