SWINDON Town U18s manager Alan McLoughlin has paid tribute to the professional attitude of his young charges after they signed off their season with a 2-1 win at Stevenage to seal runners-up spot in the Youth Alliance Merit League One table.

Of the second year scholars at Town’s academy, just three – Scott Twine, Jordan Simpson and Tom Ouldridge – have been offered professional contracts by the club for next season.

For many, that meant Saturday’s trip to Stevenage was their final match in a Swindon shirt and McLoughlin was full of praise at the manner in which his troops have conducted themselves in recent weeks.

“There’s been a great response from the boys considering quite a lot of them have been released by the club, so for them it was a bittersweet day with it being their last game for Swindon,” said McLoughlin.

“A lot of them have been in the academy for a long time and they have put their heart and soul into the club and worked very hard for the academy.

“For them to keep on going, giving their maximum for their own personal pride is a credit to them and a credit to the values that we set in the academy this year, particularly with the U18s but also right the way through.

“Things are looking good in the academy, there are lots of good players to be hopeful over moving forward in the future.”

Goals from Twine and Simpson put Town in control against Stevenage and although the hosts, rallied in the second half, McLoughlin’s men dug deep to see out the win and clinch second place in the league.

“The players have performed fantastically well and consistently throughout the season,” said McLoughlin.

“On Saturday, the team played very, very well in the first half and dominated the game against a decent Stevenage side, who were very competitive.

“As we expected, Stevenage looked to change it in the second half and went a little bit more direct and caused us one or two problems in the opening 10 minutes and scored.

“We changed the system instantly and went back to 4-4-2. We regained control of the game and the players didn’t throw the towel in, they were hungry to finish second.”