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Barnsley 0 v 2 Swansea City
SkyBet Championship
Saturday, 16th January 2021 Kick-off 19:45
Swansea prove yet again they can mix and match with any side in the league
Saturday, 16th Jan 2021 22:37 by Steph Thomas and Keith Haynes

Swansea City boss Steve Cooper and his coaching team masterminded a tremendous tactical display at Oakwell as the swans move four points clear in the automatic promotion places.

A tactical masterclass was on show at Barnsley as Swansea City proved yet again they can match any tactical style or formation with a hard fought win that see’s them clear of Bournemouth in the automatic promotion spots. Barnsley started the first half an hour of the game at full throttle with long balls and a pacey forward line which caused a scruffy and typical British style championship game. The cold chill whipping round Oakwell in what has to be said was a very hard fought but fair game was intriguing with Barnsley manager Valérien Ismaël making it quite clear he was ready made for any tactical match up with Steve Cooper.

As was the case in the most recent meeting between the sides, the pitch did little favours for either side. As a result, the opening stages were scruffy to say the least, with both teams having no issues with being direct when required. The first chance fell to the hosts after Cabango lost his footing, although Victor Adeboyejo - who scored an own-goal in the reverse fixture - blasted over from around 25 yards out. Ismael's side did well to limit the impact of Swansea's full-backs, and they dealt comfortably when they were attacked down the middle as Matt Grimes had a shot blocked from distance.

However, Connor Roberts very nearly assisted his fellow wide flyer as his long throw-in reached the centre of the Barnsley penalty area, although Jack Walton punched clear just as Jake Bidwell attempted to head home. The Tykes responded well and had two chances to take the lead soon after, only for Woodman to deny Adeboyejo before Conor Chaplin's driven strike was well blocked. As the first half wore on Barnsley looked like a one dimensional outfit that was slowly running out of ideas. Barnsley have been on a good run with their own sights set on the play offs. The first hammer blow came in injury time when a long Connor Roberts throw in found Ben Cabango who flicked the ball on and beyond keeper Walton. It was just what teams used to do to Swansea City, but the manager is learning fast, the complete change in tactics earned a 1-0 lead.

Ben Cabango’s his third goal of the season

At half time a one nil lead was just what the swans deserved for their total commitment in every tackle, meeting physicality with physicality in every challenge. Nice football this side are known for, however a complete change in strategy and style shocked Barnsley and probably many swans supporters. This side mixed it up and matched the opposition on a rough pitch which demanded a more straight forward approach. It paid off as the teams went in for half time.

Captain Grimes led his side to a superb away victory at Oakwell

The second half was different, Swansea stepped up the pressure from midfield and the ever available Jamal Lowe and totally committed Andre Ayew made runs across the Barnsley back four causing numerous issues. Cooper's men showed even more intent as the minutes ticked by and Naughton fired a speculative shot well wide. Roberts then had his head in his hands after a stunning volley flew just wide from outside the box as the Swans continued to cause problems from set-pieces.

Jamal scores again for Swansea

And Swansea's pressure told in the 55th minute as Lowe capitalised on some sloppy defending to slot beyond Walton from the edge of the box to register his ninth goal of the season. There was a suspicion of offside in the build up to the goal, although Lowe refused to spurn the chance to score and put his side in command. The confidence oozed through the Swansea ranks after that second goal, and even Korey Smith was keen to show off his skills with a delicate flick to Lowe who was unable to pick out a team mate high up the pitch. It was a dynamic performance from the swans, a well thought out tactical display with pure grit at times especially from Korey Smith who challenged continuously in midfield. His desire to chase back was pleasing and his tackling around the swans penalty area precise and impactive. Grimes too is a player who looks a different person this season, now devilish in his play, and strong on the ball he is the creative influence that makes the swans tick. In fact it was an all round performance by the starting eleven who in fact were the end of game eleven. Barnsley’s Brittain struck a stunning thirty five yard shot which Freddie Woodman saved superbly as the half wore on. Marc Guehi has such a bright future in front of him he will clearly play for his country at full international level very soon.

Jamal nets his ninth goal of the season

It was one of those nights, the tactics spot on, the commitment superb, and Swansea City are second in the Championship. It’s been a very decent evening in South Yorkshire.

Try as they might Barnsley failed to score against a tight drilled defence

Cooper when interviewed after the game, ‘The pitch was difficult to play on, it wasn’t the best, we showed adaptability, Barnsley tried to wear us down, and we looked different, we adapted to the pitch, the weather and I’m really happy. Our half time Talk was the same as it would have been had it been nil, nil. Jamal should just keep going, he’s been brilliant all season, he offers so much to us. We are working hard with him, he has a lot of growing to do, and we are really enjoying the journey with him’ On Lowe’s goal. ‘Offside was it ? Well, we were due one, we have a really tough game on Tuesday at Blackburn, not a good pitch, our mentality remains the same. We have lost a number of players, we want to get the numbers back up to what they were, we are close, it’s a difficult market, so we will see what happens. We may be close, who can say, for now we have what we have.

Trundle on Jordan Morris at Seattle, ‘Swansea need a squad, we need quality in, so Morris is one that would make a huge difference. It’s going to be difficult to maintain an injury free rest of season. The players the club need to bring in need to be good enough to come in and do the same job any player left out can do’

An honest and straight talking Valérien Ismaël was not looking for any excuses post match. ‘We played well against a top team, we created a lot of situations and were focussed, it was a pity. We stayed in the game and the second goal was simply stupid, the guys have to learn, we have to avoid this stupidity. The second goal made it difficult. We have to accept it but if we want to be better we have to learn. I won’t complain about the clear penalty we had, and I won’t complain about Jamal being offside, it was stupid and shouldn’t happen. Now we cannot make these mistakes, we have to improve, it stopped us staying in the game. We can beat anyone but have to stop the mistakes’

Barnsley: Walton; Styles, Anderson, Brittain, Kane (Palmer 62), Woodrow, Chaplin (Morris 62), Sollbauer (Sibbick 83), Mowatt, Adeboyejo (Thomas 83), Helik. Unused: Collins, Schmidt, Oduor, Frieser, Moon.

Swansea City: Woodman: Guehi, Fulton, Smith, Grimes, Lowe, Ayew, Roberts, Bidwell, Naughton, Cabango. Unused substitutes: Hamer, Manning, Routledge, Cullen, Dhanda, Latibeaudiere, Byers, Cooper, Garrick.

Referee: Jeremy Simpson

Post Match Interview Steve Cooper

Photo: Action Images

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