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Swansea City 1 v 0 Nottingham Forest
SkyBet Championship
Wednesday, 17th February 2021 Kick-off 19:00
Super Cooper goes ballistic Roberts is fantastic !
Thursday, 18th Feb 2021 09:00 by Keith Haynes

Put aside the poor performance on a wet, windy and turgid Liberty night. The almost perfect Hughton tactics and the sluggish Swansea retort. Put your belief in a team that doesn’t know how to lose, and in the words of our Motty, ‘Just look at his face, yes just look at his face’ Cooper is delighted as Swansea City don’t smash and grab, they just prove strength in depth and total desire is king.

Steve Cooper is absolutely delighted as the swans beat Forest

After what seems like a year without league football the swans returned on a cold Liberty night with a display that had the thousands watching on SKY TV and Swans TV desperately hoping for some inspiration from their promotion contenders. And my word did it happen, as he did at Forest in the away league game Connor Roberts dealt a headed blow referee Darren Drysdale would have been proud of. His sheer courage, yet again, coupled with his pure Swansea heart, and a pile driver of a header flashing past the Forest keeper Samba kept his side well on course for the premier league.

It wasn’t pretty at the Liberty, Chris Hughton is no mug, and he brought his Forest side to Swansea with one thing in mind. Victory. After an humiliating 5-1 loss in the FA Cup that result was not to be repeated in the driving west Wales rain as his side piled on the pressure on a mundane and slow Swansea eleven. The break had done Swansea no favours, and a predicted selection from Cooper just could not get going as the first half progressed. Misplaced passes, long punts and poorly managed play did nothing to enhance the feeling that this game was a guaranteed home win. There was to be just the ‘one goal wins‘ type of game. A midweek fixture that defines the league table come May. It has to be said that the goal in question could well have gone to Forest right at the end of the half, however, the swans remained resilient and went in at half time 0-0.

Chris Hughton came for the victory at the Liberty

The much lauded Swansea defence was never really in brother, but then neither were Forest. Fulton could have done a lot better with a header, Lowe failed to react quickly to a half chance and a couple of shots, one from Hourihane, which didn’t bother the Forest keeper were the end result of all the huff and puff. Two decent reactions from the excellent Freddie Woodman kept the swans in the game, and when half time came at 0-0 it was probably a fair reflection of the previous forty five minutes. Cooper and Marsh would not have been happy. The swans were sluggish and reactionary, lacking their usual creativity, the expected Swansea City passing game was not that evident. It would have been Chris Hughton, whose tactics first half were far more encouraging, who went in for his half time talk more positive.

Lewis Grabban was the main tormentor, his runs and decisive play stood out as ex Cardiff man Knockaert pulled most of the strings for Forest. They played with little fear and with a positive tactic of looking for the win, it was evident that the second half required a huge change in mindset for the swans. If we are to report on the first half it would be merely poor, possibly worse - and definitely underwhelming.

It did improve in the second half for both sides, but it again felt all too slow, It was lethargic coupled with a failure to chase down the Forest defence - by both Lowe and Ayew. This meant both sides had little to be concerned about. Jordan Morris replaced Kyle Naughton for the final quarter of the game after the defender took a knock to the face, and that switch saw a change in shape for the hosts as Ayew operated centrally, with Morris and Lowe moving to far wider positions. The swans marginally improved after this solid change of tactic, although they continued to struggle at the business end of the pitch. The usual incisive quick passing to the wing backs was missing, and it was obvious.

But Forest had a glorious chance to hit Swansea on the counter attack after clearing a corner, although Lowe and Roberts tracked back brilliantly to thwart Grabban. Roberts made a fine block as Forest threatened from a recycled corner as Paul Arriola replaced Lowe for the final stages. But just as the game looked set to end level, Roberts demonstrated the same athleticism he showed in the reverse fixture to head home Bidwell's cross to send the Swansea bench into raptures as the Swans clinched victory in sensational fashion. As he did in Nottingham,Roberts thrust himself at a glorious Bidwell cross and to the delight of the home bench secured victory.

Not his best game for the swans, but Ayew never hides

It has to be said the introduction of Jordan Morris was key, his barrel chested quick inter play reminded some maybe of a young Robbie James, okay even at twenty six he has a long way to go, but he is strong, quick and made the difference as Forest struggled to manage his bright and energetic contribution. Same too for Paul Arriola, who was as beneficial in defence as he was moving forwards. These two signings are going to be key to the swans progress for the reminder of the season. You have to acknowledge that Swansea City have signed two players who are as good if not better than they had in various positions. That’s what a good January window does for you.

That’s how you win games 1-0

When you take stock this wasn’t a vintage as we know it Swansea City performance, but what it was left nobody in any doubt. This is a side that doesn’t know when it is beaten and down, they play to the end, and in many a year gone by this has not been as evident as it was against Nottingham Forest. You can’t win them all in style, but you can win some of them with pure guts. The swans move on to Huddersfield away on Saturday who will also know that this is a side that won’t give in, no matter the quality of the opposition. Evidence of this was Steve Cooper at the end of the game, he was so delighted his face was a picture, beaming from ear to ear, and back slapping anyone within the two metre rule. He was truly delighted. He alone will surely now begin to believe, this isn’t just a normal football season.

Matt Grimes leading by example

Swans boss Steve Cooper
I'm not going to sit here and say we were brilliant in the game, because in parts of the performance we weren't, especially with the ball. At times we struggled to get our positioning right on the pitch and play with enough rhythm and intensity, especially in the first half. I just thought the game was heading towards a 0-0 draw. Forest are a really good team in good form. They've got loads of experienced and talented players. "We just felt, in the second half, we had to make some tactical changes, get some more attacking players on and get some width and hope things would turn a little bit. It didn't really, but in the end we managed to create a good moment to go and win the game. "Delighted with the win but knowing that we will need to play better in the next game."

Forest boss Chris Hughton
"I'm really delighted with the performance but hugely disappointed with the result. The performance shows as a team we are getting closer, but if you look at the last two games, we've had one draw and lost the other. "That's the difference between us and Swansea. I'm sure they would admit we were the better side and they did not play as well as they could, but they came away with the three points. We need to be more clinical. "Even though I thought we were the better side we still had to protect our position and we can't allow that lapse of concentration. The players all know it's a game we should have not only not have lost, but won."

ThIs victory for Swansea City see’s them in third position with games in hand on the top two. Brentford lost again tonight to QPR and Norwich City who beat Coventry. There is much to come.

That’s the difference Forest

Swansea City Woodman; Naughton (Morris 67), Bennett, Guehi; Roberts, Grimes (C), Hourihane (Smith 88), Fulton, Bidwell; Ayew, Lowe (Arriola 83).

Subs not used: Hamer, Latibeaudiere, Cabango, Manning, Dhanda, Whittaker.

Yellow card: Bennett 35

Goal: Roberts 87

Nottingham Forest Samba; Christie, Figueiredo, Worrall, Ribeiro; Cafu, Garner; Lolley, Krovinovic, Knockaert (Mighten 89); Grabban (C) (Murray 75).

Subs not used: Smith, Mbe Soh, Colback, Bong, Jenkinson, Blackett, Taylor.

Referee: Geoff Eltringham

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