|Swansea City 0 v 0 Birmingham City|
Saturday, 19th September 2020 Kick-off 15:00
Swans stalemate as Cooper runs out of ideas
Saturday, 19th Sep 2020 18:03 by Keith Haynes
Swansea supporters will be frustrated that Steve Coopers tactics saw a nil return in the opening home game of the season.
For almost thirty first half minutes of the game the swans pressed impressively with 71% possession and early on Connor Roberts saw two crosses flash across the Birmingham goal frustratingly inches away from an opening goal. Bidwell also had a tame header collected by new Birmingham goalkeeper Neil Etheridge. Gibbs-White and Grimes forged numerous links in midfield but it was Ayew who frustrated the most in what was an unimpressive display. At the other end Woodman impressed with safe hands with two decent saves, one from Jon Toral which was almost certainly going to put the blues one up. Gibbs-White stalled inside the box when he should have taken on the shot and a Grimes free kick was cleverly taken but saved easily.
From the first half display the game did have the feeling one goal would win it, or as many suspected a 0-0 draw. Second half Birmingham proved why many have them down as the leagues dark horses this season. Clever substitutions by Karanka forced the swans backwards as Clayton became more dominant and Bela looked a threat on the left. Dean went close and Sanchez stepped up his involvement. Cabango and Rodon defended superbly but also gave the ball away on too many occasions when moving forwards. Their frustration was also clear.
The swans seemed to be shaken in to a response part way through the half but numerous crosses were either misplaced or defended well by the visitors. Roberts was heavily involved and he will be frustrated at his end product, Cooper sticking with his 3-5-2 formation from the week before left it late for any substitutions. Lowe ran impressively but failed to link in with Smith, and Karanka’s tactics pushed Bidwell back causing a clogged midfield. Young Liam Cullen looked bright when he came on for Lowe, quick and enthusiastic, some will say he deserves more game time. Towards the end Guehi went close and another fine save from Etheridge kept the game scoreless. For Coopers critics, and there are quite a number this game will sum up their feelings on his strategy when lining up his team sheet. In his defence he is desperately in need of support in securing a goal scorer and someone to put Korey Smith under pressure as his displays have been ineffective to date. Byers is still out but this may well not be the answer, Swansea City need to move fast on their targets and ensure Cooper and Marsh have the support to move the season forwards positively.
The game was a draw, it wasn’t boring, but we have to use that word again, frustration. Coopers players know what he wants, that’s clear, but it needs more energy, more desire and braver decision making. Four points from the first two games is fine, but it really should have been six. However, on another day Birmingham could have won this game giving a last season feel to this seasons opening home game.
Swansea City: Freddie Woodman; Ben Cabango, Joe Rodon, Marc Guehi; Connor Roberts, Korey Smith, Matt Grimes (captain), Jake Bidwell; Morgan Gibbs-White; Jamal Lowe (Liam Cullen 85), Andre Ayew.
Unused Substitutes: Steven Benda, Kyle Naughton, Jay Fulton, Wayne Routledge, Yan Dhanda, Kristoffer Peterson.
Birmingham City: Neil Etheridge, Kristian Pedersen, Ivan Sunjic, Lukas Jutkiewicz, Harlee Dean (captain), Ivan Sanchez, Jeremie Bela, Maxime Colin, George Friend, Jon Toral (Gary Gardner 63), Adam Clayton
Unused Substitutes: Zach Jeacock, Marc Roberts, Dan Crowley, Scott Hogan, Steve Seddon, Agustin Medina.
Referee: Gavin Ward
Steve Cooper post match interview
Photo: Action Images
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