by Ethan Harris
A YOUTHFUL Swansea City looked to move forward to the third-round of the Carabao Cup on Tuesday night, with Premier League outfit Crystal Palace standing in their way.
The Swans have only lost to the Eagles five times in their entire history, but this encounter proved to be a different scenario.
The home side were relentless in the opening moments, with Matt Grimes picking out Dan James with a superb cross field ball.
The youngster turned at the Palace defence, skipping past three players and squaring himself brilliantly, but his effort flew high and wide as he lacked the composure to finish.
The Eagles would not be controlled easily, with Palace quickly finding their feet as their intricate play soon picked apart the Swans defence.
They found a promising chance in the 12th minute, with Jason Puncheon in space on the edge of the area. The captain took a touch and looked to place his effort but fired painfully wide of the mark.
Only two minutes later, Palace found themselves in behind the Swans back-line; Aaron Wan-Bissaka worked some space down the right-hand side, firing in a bobbling cross that managed to find Alexander Sorloth in the area.
The Norwegian did what he could with the cross, with his effort well blocked by the young centre half Brandon Cooper.
The Swans looked to regain their foothold in the game, and came close when Yan Dhanda intercepted a misplaced pass on the halfway line.
Dhanda flurried forward, darting between Palace players but could only muster an effort straight at stopper Vicente Guaita.
Forward Courtney Baker-Richardson looked to grab the rebound, but his effort flew high over the woodwork.
Palace appeared sluggish within the first period, seeming tired after their quick turnaround from Watford on Sunday.
This was most evident in the 22nd minute, with another misplaced ball picked off by an energetic Swansea midfield.
The Swans quickly found the feet of Baker-Richardson, with the forward turning sharply, before slipping through Dan James.
The winger had a tight angle and couldn’t keep his effort on target, missing a glorious opportunity for the home side.
Looking dangerous, Swansea felt they should have had an opener.
Cian Harries played a slicing through ball that glided past the Palace midfield, finding Tom Carroll in a pocket of space.
The midfielder looked sharp as he turned to find Baker-Richardson through on goal once more.
However, the forward couldn’t keep the ball under control, as his first touch lead him astray from the goal, firing an effort that barely troubled the Palace stopper.
On the 40th minute Palace earned themselves a corner, where the young Swans side looked tired from a good first-half performance.
A momentary lapse of concentration found Sorloth with acres of space in the area.
The Norwegian though, mistimed the effort, placing a header high over the bar, much to the relief of the Swans back-line.
Much like the first period, the Swans came flying out of the gates to start the second-half.
Only a minute after the restart, George Byers slipped in Dan James, who once again failed to find the target from another promising position.
Martin Kelly wasted a glorious opportunity for Palace in the 49th minute, when yet another cross found a free header that once more looped over the bar.
The game settled after a frantic start to the half, but the Swans came forward yet again, the young side fearless in the face of their Premier League opponents.
Yan Dhanda found himself in space during the 66th minute, slotting through a beautiful no look pass to Dan James, whose effort was blocked well by the Palace defence.
Moments later though, it was Palace that broke the deadlock.
In the 70th minute, a wonderful through ball landed at the feet of Sorloth, with the Norwegian slotting home an effort into the top right-hand side of the net to give the visitors the lead.
Palace grew in confidence, with Max Meyer firing in a shot from distance not long after the restart, but Kristoffer Nordfeldt was equal to the strike as the stopper parried the ball away from danger.
Nordfeldt had a busy evening after his return from a groin injury, showing his qualities as the visitors charged towards his goal.
The substitute Sullay KaiKai found himself through in the 80th minute, but the stopper stood firm, deflecting the ball away once more.
Next in line was Andros Townsend, who slid a low effort with good interplay between himself and Sorloth, but his shot was poor and easy enough for the Swansea keeper.
The Swans though, would not be disheartened so easily. Ultimately, they could not grab the equaliser they had fought for, but they didn’t give up.
Yan Dhanda once again found space, placing a cross onto the head of debutant Liam Cullen, but a looping header sailed over the bar, in what would have been a dream moment for the youngster.
In an evenly-matched affair, it was Premier League Palace that left the victors at the Liberty Stadium.
Swansea: Nordfeldt, Naughton, John, Harries, Cooper (61), Carroll (77), Grimes, Dhanda, James, Byers, Baker-Richarson (77)
Subs: Mulder, Reid (61), Lewis, Maric, Mckay, Cullen (77), Asoro (77)
Palace: Guatia, Meyer, Kouyate, Sorloth, Schlupp (62), Williams (76), Wan-Bissaka, Inniss, Kelly (62), Puncheon, Riedewald.
Subs: Henry, Ward (62), Townsend (62), Kaikai (76), Woods, McGregor.
[Pictures courtesy of Swansea City Football Club]