Swansea City found themselves on the back of a another defeat this evening as they were beaten 3-1 by leaders Leicester City but it was a scoreline that maybe does not fully reflect the fact that the Swans competed well with the best side in the division.
After the disaster of a first half that the Swans saw against both Southampton (3-1 down at the interval) and Bournemouth (5-0) then the clear message when you are away to the league leaders is that you have to keep it tight in the early stages. That went out of the window inside two minutes when Dewsbury-Hall raced clear of a static defence to beat Rushworth to give the home side the lead. In fairness, Jerry Yates should have already have put the Swans ahead by that point but his shot was saved by the keeper and that was pretty much the last time the Swans touched the ball before they went a goal down.
Could we learn from our early generosity in defence? The answer was no. There were less than ten minutes on the clock when the Leicester commentary described our defending as “perilous” leading them to decide things were looking “ominous” for the Swans and it was very difficult to disagree given the pattern of the opening period of the game.
That defending should have cost us a second goal in the eighteenth minute as Leicester broke again and somehow Daka hit the ball wide when it reached him unmarked in the middle of the area. The collective sigh of relief could be heard from the bench as the home fans wondered how they hadn’t doubled their advantage at this point.
Yates was looking like he was on the goal hunt this evening with two good efforts at goal – a cynic would tell you that he was using this game as a final chance to put himself in the shop window amongst rumoured transfer interest in this window. With 48 hours before the closure of the window it would not be lost on many that a goal or two could persuade someone to part with some money. That is what a cynic would say anyway…
After the kamikaze approach to the first fifteen minutes the Swans, there seemed to be a period where we tightened up the midfield and pressed higher up the pitch which was creating some space for us to play more in and the game was turning into a relatively equal contest as it passed the half hour mark and headed towards the half-time whistle.
Indeed you could argue at the break that for the last fifteen minutes of the half the Swans looked the better of the two sides. Goal chances may have been at a premium but the Swans were more dominant in possession and it was starting to look as if we were learning from the mistakes of previous games.
That said the Swans were grateful to Carl Rushworth for a superb save in the last minute of the half when he palmed Mavididi’s shot onto the bar and just a minute later it was time for another sigh of relief as Daka blazed over after another good Leicester move as the home side showed that, despite the fact the Swans were playing themselves into the game, they were exceptionally dangerous on the attack.
Half-time Leicester City 1 Swansea City 0
The Swans made a change at half time with new Brazilian winger Ronald making his debut after confirming his signature yesterday afternoon at the club. Ronald’s introduction was in place of Harrison Ashby. And it was a foul on the Brazilian that led to the Swans getting a free-kick early in the half in a dangerous position but Grimes ball into the box was dealt with relatively easily by the home side defence.
While the Swans were very much in the game it was Leicester who were still creating the better chances and again they probably should have doubled the lead early in the second half but another good chance went begging from a good move. Were the home side going to be made to regret the missed chances?
The Swans were forced into a change when Harry Darling was replaced with Kyle Naughton after going down with an injury. Luke Wiliams will want that to be more of a precautionary change than any long term absence for the Swans. Again though there was much to take as positives from the game as the Swans were more than holding their own against the best side in this division and that has to bode well for future games if that is to be the case.
Jamie Paterson came close in the 66th minute when he picked up a loose ball and curled a shot just wide of the post – it was a shot that the keeper probably had covered but was highlighting that the Swans were not out of this game just yet.
However, if we weren’t out of the game at that point we were less than a minute later when Leicester earned themselves a penalty. Bashir Humphreys was guilty of indecision in midfield and as Leicester broke it was Nathan Wood who was penalised for a challenge although replays showed that there was no real contact with the forward but Mavididi stepped up to double Leicester’s advantage. It was tough on the Swans who were competing in a game only for a poor refereeing decision to take it out of our reach.
The Swans responded by replacing Humphreys with Cabango but with the game out of reach the Swans reverted to their defensive generosity to give Leicester a third goal in the 72nd minute. A ball out from Rushworth went straight to a Leicester player and, with a bit of luck the ball dropped to Yunus who was certainly going to take advantage of the chance presented to him. If 2-0 was almost certainly game over, at 3-0 there was never going to be a way back.
The scoreline felt harsh on the Swans who had competed in the game for large periods after their poor start to the game and really goes to show why Leicester are the best side in the division. The reality is they are a Premier League side playing in our division and the clinical way in which they took their chances only served to back that up.
The one thing though that Luke Williams has to work on is our tendency to commit defensive suicide at least once or twice a game. Not only content with gifting the third goal with some poor play from the back we were close to conceding a fourth soon after through the same problem. The other frustration in the second half would be that Ronald was very much a watching passenger for most of it. It is very early days in his Swansea career but we have to play him more into the game given the attributes we are told that he has. A pacy winger creating chances is all well and good but we have to work hard to ensure that he is given chance to use that pace to do the creation.
The introduction of Joe Allen and Ollie Cooper for Fulton and Cullen with ten minutes to go was just designed to freshen things up but the game was over as a contest. The Swans were beaten but their heads though hadn’t fully dropped and they continued to see if they could carve an opening to at least grab a consolation goal and a Jerry Yates header from a Paterson cross came close.
The Swans did grab the consolation they were looking for in the fifth minute of stoppage time when Allen stabbed home from close range after a good cross from Tymon was met by the head of Cabango.
Ultimately this was possibly a result that was expected but the 3-1 scoreline does not fully reflect for me the play in the game. For the first twenty minutes we did look as if we could be blown away again but after the nervousness of the start we clawed our way into the game for a good 45 minutes of play before one poor mistake on the halfway line led to a penalty that should not have been given. The third goal came about through more poor defensive choices. Luke Williams should definitely take the positives that are there to be gained from this game and once we settled we did what he said he wants us to do in that we pressed hard and high and it worked. Even against the best side in the division. After the embarrassment of last Thursday this was not an embarrassing evening despite the comprehensive scoreline at the end of the game.
Plymouth next on Saturday at the Swansea.com, let’s see if we can deliver three points for Luke Williams.
MATCH FACTS AND LINE UPS
OTHER CHAMPIONSHIP RESULTS
NEXT UP FOR THE SWANS