|Swansea City 0 v 0 Reading|
Wednesday, 30th December 2020 Kick-off 20:00
Chance after chance for the swans but no return in royal display
Wednesday, 30th Dec 2020 23:01
In a goalless game at the Liberty lady luck smiled royally over Reading with keeper Rafael in world class form throughout to deny what would have been a well deserved three points for Swansea.
On a brand new plush surface and a wet topping the night was set up for a slick passing game, and nobody was disappointed. Unfortunately hopes of three points faded away as Swansea looked to go second as the last game of the year concluded.
Sadly, It wasn't to be and a third home nil return from the swans will again see Steve Cooper looking for that one player to turn the tide in front of goal. It wasn't as if the swans were not the best side, even during a slower than usual first half they excelled. Ayew went close with an overhead kick and shots came in throughout the half on the Reading goal. Brazilian Rafael Cabral in goal turned away several chances in the first half, even though it was a lower tempo build up it was a siege of the Reading goal. Freddie Woodman in the swans goal also pulled off two quality stops during the half to keep the scores level.
Two potential handballs from the same Reading player, Tom Holmes, were examined at half time with one looking pretty much a penalty.
Following Brentford's 2-1 triumph over Bournemouth in the day's earlier kick-off, Swansea knew they needed to beat the Royals to end the year in the top two. Swansea head coach Cooper made one change to the side that started the 2-0 Boxing Day win over Queens Park Rangers at Loftus Road, with Korey Smith coming in for Yan Dhanda as the hosts packed out their midfield. Reading manager Veljko Paunović was without a number of key players, including top scorer Lucas João who has netted 14 goals this term. Reading looked comfortable as well, not as threatening but eased their way in to the game.
Andre Ayew, Jake Bidwell, Joel Latibeaudiere and Marc Guehi ( he will relive that miss for a long time ) all had opportunities to secure the win, and Cooper looked frustrated on the touchline taking off Smith for Palmer then Lowe, who was relatively quiet, for Brighton loanee Gyorkeres. Sadly both offered little with Palmer misplacing passes and Gyorkeres looking light weight and lost in play. Both could easily find themselves back at their parent clubs come January. It is evident Cooper has an eye on Saturdays game against Watford as well as the FA Cup tie away to Stevenage. Cooper also knows only too well a more experienced striker in front of goal tonight would have wrapped up the points.
The visitors then went close themselves as Tom McIntyre volleyed Michael Olise's cross at goal from close range, but Freddie Woodman made a fine stop to ensure the game remained goalless. The hosts were dealt a huge blow eight minutes into the second half as Bennett was forced off through injury. And his replacement, the impressive Latibeaudiere almost made a dream introduction as he headed Grimes' cross at goal, only to be denied by Cabral.
Reading came in to matters only during the last ten minutes as visions of a smash and grab being on the cards as the royals pushed forwards. Talisman Swift coming off the subs bench invigorated them. This seemed to fire the Reading side but the swans remained solid as always at the back. The most frustrating note of the night has to be the swans lack of urgency on the ball taking extra passes to move forwards and seemingly in no hurry to get the winning goal. May be worried about Reading and their revitalised late second half attempt to snatch an unlikely win was the issue. Either way come the 80th minute the swans should have been away and gone with the points.
Bennett hobbled off in the second half
Swansea, who slipped a place to third after Brentford's win over Bournemouth, will be frustrated to have missed a chance to close the gap on leaders Norwich City to just two points. The Swans have the best defensive record in the EFL - this was their 13th clean sheet in 22 league games this season - but could not find the decisive goal their performance deserved. Saturdays game against Watford may well be another must not lose but Cooper knows how much dropped points can cost a side going for automatic promotion.
Swansea City: Freddie Woodman; Ben Cabango, Ryan Bennett, Marc Guehi; Connor Roberts, Korey Smith, Jay Fulton, Matt Grimes (captain), Jake Bidwell; Andre Ayew, Jamal Lowe.
Substitutes: Steven Benda, Ryan Manning, Viktor Gyokeres, Wayne Routledge, Yan Dhanda, Joel Latibeaudiere, Oli Cooper, Jordon Garrick, Kasey Palmer.
Reading: Rafael Cabral, Tomas Esteves, Michael Morrison (captain), Tom McIntyre, Michael Olise, Andy Rinomhota, Sam Baldock, Ovie Ejaria, Josh Laurent, Tom Holmes, Alfa Semedo.
Substitutes: Luke Southwood, Omar Richards, John Swift, Sone Aluko, Nahum Melvin-Lambert, Tennai Watson, Ryan East, Jeriel Dorsett.
Referee: David Webb
Cooper post match assessment
Photo: Action Images
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