SEVEN man Swansea City suffered extra time heartbreak to crash out of the Carling Cup as a controversial penalty settled an intensely fiery contest against Scunthorpe.
With captain Garry Monk, Gorka Pintado and Angel Rangel all seeing red and Stephen Dobbie limping off injured, the game was dominated by referee James Linington’s performance. With just seven Swansea players on the pitch the game was on the verge of being abandoned as tempers spilled over throughout the Liberty Stadium.
In the end, with Gary Hooper’s extra time penalty clinching victory following goals from Nial Canavan and Dobbie in normal time, Scunthorpe will be in the third round. But that will almost be an irrelevance in the storm that is sure to errupt over the next week.
Swansea could now be without several key players for a number of games. And there will be plenty of questions asked as the dust begins to settle over the next 24 hours.
The game wasn’t always so eventful and, in what initially threatened to be a potentially dull affair, Swansea at least made a solid start as they looked to continue their recent good form. But, when they failed to take advantage of their early control, a quick counter-attack soon gave Scunthorpe a chance to open the scoring when Paul Hayes’ low shot forced debutante keeper David Cornell to concede a corner at his near post.
Josh Wright stepped up to curl in a dangerous ball and, having found space on the edge of the six-yard box, Canavan powered home an unstoppable header. If Sousa’s men wanted to make the draw for the third round, they would have to do it the hard way.
For all their efforts to get back on level terms, Swansea’s passing game just wasn’t clicking. And, had Cornell not denied Martyn Woolford with a superb save on the half-hour mark, they would have had an even bigger mountain to climb.
The hosts did eventually start to get a grip of the game as it moved towards half-time. But, with both Gorka Pintado and Jordi Lopez fluffing their lines when presented with good chances, they went in for the break trailing 1-0.
Sousa reacted to a disappointing first-half by bringing on Dobbie for Chad Bond. The change worked and the Scotsman was soon in the thick of it, creating space for himself in the box before sending a shot inches wide of Joe Murphy’s right-hand post.
As well as Dobbie making an instant impact, the Swans as a collective had clearly been urged to step up their performance. And, with Nathan Dyer, Angel Rangel and Pintado all having half-chances, the Irons goal was soon under constant pressure.
The visitors managed to weather the storm though and Sousa’s men were soon having to work much harder for their chances. And, when one finally did come, the impressive Dobbie was denied by the crossbar.
Sousa then threw on his final substitute, giving new signing Besian Idrizaj his Swans debut. The former Liverpool man made an instant impact, using his first touch to set up Dobbie who fired home an equaliser from 25 yards.
Any joy was shortlived though as skipper Monk was shown red for an off-the-ball incident with substitute Michael O’Connor. It was a harsh decision on the defender after a clash of heads which looked to be initiated by the Scunthorpe man.
If the visitors wanted to make the most of their extra man, it didn’t show. And, had a superb save from Murphy not denied Pintado after he latched on to Idrizaj’s flick-on, Swansea would have snatched a late winner.
In the end the game went to extra time and Sousa’s men soon picked up where they left off. But they were dealt another cruel blow within 10 minutes of the restart as Dobbie hobbled off with what looked to be a rib injury, leaving them with just nine men on the field.
As valiantly as they tried to find a winner, the Swans were then on the wrong end of another controversial decision from referee Linington when Alan Tate was adjudged to have handled Paul Hayes’ goal-bound effort. Gary Hooper smashed home the resulting penalty and, with Pintado then seeing red for a second bookable offence and Rangel receiving a straight red late on, that was enough to send Scunthorpe into the third round.
SWANSEA: Cornell, Rangel, Monk (Cpt), Tate, Painter; Britton, Lopez (Idrizaj 78), Bond (Dobbie 46); Dyer, Morgan (Gower 60); Pintado.
Subs not used: De Vries, MacDonald, Williams, Collins.
Goals: Dobbie 79
SCUNTHORPE: Murphy (Cpt), Spence, Mirfin, Canavan, Williams; Sparrow, Wright, Togwell (Hooper 87); Woolford (Thompson 76), Forte (O’Connor 64); Hayes.
Subs not used: Lillis, Morris,Boyes, Byrne.
Goals: Canavan 14, Hooper pen 110
Referee: James Linington (Isle of Wight)