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Stoke City 1 v 2 Swansea City
SkyBet Championship
Wednesday, 3rd March 2021 Kick-off 20:15
Stoke City 1 Swansea City 2 : Persistence, Desire, Energy and all in the last twenty minutes !
Wednesday, 3rd Mar 2021 23:32

It was exasperating at times, but the swans really did grind out a terrific win in the potteries after a late penalty secured the three points for Cooper’s army. After such a deflating run of games and conceding seven goals in the last two games the swans are three points closer to securing a play off spot with second place in their sights.

“The Maltese Falcon reports on a fairytale ending for the swans”

The energy returned for the swans, but only in the last twenty minutes or so as self belief and desire, those two massive qualities required at this stage of the season were the difference on the night. We knew it was there, and at last it is back. Starting with Bidwell on the bench for Ryan Manning the swans went in to the game in their usual formation which saw Conor Hourihane benched as well. Korey Smith came in for him in a midfield three which included Grimes and Fulton. Something swans fans have been calling for over the past few weeks. The usual two up front in Ayew and Lowe also started with Naughton a part of the defensive three including Cabango and Guehi. Conner Roberts completed the outfield players on the right hand side. Freddie Woodman deservedly started again for the swans in goal.

It was Guehi though who uncharacteristically misplaced a pass across his area which led to the first goal of the night. Another mistake at the back saw Stoke City capitalise and go one up after six minutes. Nicky Powell latched on to the confusion and drilled a well placed shot to Woodman’s right, he really couldn’t miss. This started, what was for the neutral I’m sure, a pretty decent game to watch. Stoke without some of their better players ( allegedly ) swarmed over the swans who took fifteen minutes to compose themselves after the goal and get back in to the tempo of the match. It was Ryan Manning pulling the strings on the left, and cleverly switching wings with Roberts who slowly pulled his side back in to the contest.

Marc Guehi retained his composure as the game progressed

Manning had three excellent efforts at the Stoke goal before he put in a superb cross for Roberts who did everything right, getting across the defender and placing a decent shot in to the Stoke net. It was a wonderful move after the game broke down in midfield for a stoke, Ayew found Manning and his cross was really well executed, and the finish was as good as any strikers effort you will see this season. From there Stoke hit the post after a well placed shot from Tommy Smith looked goal bound. Conner Roberts had a scuffed shot saved, and the end to end encounter finished as Souttar hit a fine volley which Woodman superbly saved. It finished at 1-1 at half time. On reflection it was a decent battle between two evenly matched sides.

Ryan Manning had a superb game away at Stoke City

The second half was a slow start for Swansea, no changes were made and Stoke pushed forwards again with Steve Fletcher somehow hitting the post when it was easier to score. From there it was the swans turn with superb linking inter play, Korey Smith noticeable when making diagonal runs off the ball and pulling the Stoke defence wide across the whole pitch. Like Swansea failed to do on Saturday with an in play tactical change, Stoke failed to deal with Smith and when Hourihane came on for Lowe operating just behind Ayew the potters retreated ten yards every time the swans attacked. And there seemed to be only one team in the game to win it at that point. The passing retuned, the accuracy of the long balls out to the wings were inch perfect.

Jamal Lowe subbed for Hourihane at the Bet365

With Hourihane on the attack as well as the energetic midfield - the danger increased drastically, he missed a decent set piece with a soft shot but was constantly on the edge of the Stoke area. Hassling the defence and picking up loose balls feeding a marauding Roberts, who now had the excellent Fulton and Smith linking in with him and Ayew out on the right. With time almost up, Korey Smith sent Naughton scampering into the box and, after he got across Jack Clarke and tumbled to the ground, referee David Webb pointed to the spot. When Stoke's protests had died down, Ayew ambled up to convert his second spot-kick in as many games and hand Swansea what prove to be a crucial win in the race for the Premier League.

Looking back on the game Stoke City could and let’s be honest should have bagged at least two goals, but that has been their problem all season. They can’t score. The swans who rarely go north of two goals a game we’re good value for the win. Their persistence over the last twenty minutes, their movement and aggression was top drawer. Man of the match Conner Roberts has enough energy for three players, his desire in a Swans shirts is unrivalled. Cooper made a decent change bringing off Lowe for Hourihane, something he may do again as the season progresses. It worked as the swans were able to load the box and pick up stray clearances from a tired Stoke side. Naughton and Grimes can also take a bow but Jay Fulton takes the plaudits, he just never knows when he is beaten, and alongside him the aggressive Ryan Manning may well keep his place for the next game at home to Middlesbrough at the Liberty on Saturday.

Fulton never knows when he is beaten

The swans have kept the pressure on the top two, at times they did look uncomfortable tonight. However, nothing is perfect, it can’t be, we have examined that already this week. Especially Guehi at the start, but the sides character and desire won them the game and now we are well in to the final third of the season. Some will say what goes around comes around.The swans have been on the receiving end of some pretty bizarre decisions at Stoke over the years, so tonight’s last second penalty was that much sweeter. To add to that the penalty award was suspect is even better. The ever diving Jack Clarke in the Stoke midfield had his just deserts and Ayew, calmly as ever struck home the winner. Touchė.

This championship lark doesn’t half test your patience, and tonight at times, your perseverance too.

Stoke City: Gunn; Smith, Norrington-Davies, Chester; Souttar, Batth (Clarke 46), Allen, Mikel (C); Brown, Powell (Thompson 86), Fletcher.

Subs not used: Davies, Forrester, Cousins, Tymon, Oakley-Boothe, Norton, Vokes.

Goal: Powell 7

Swansea City: Woodman; Naughton, Cabango, Guehi; Roberts, Grimes (C), Smith, Fulton, Manning; Ayew, Lowe (Hourihane 70).

Subs not used: Hamer, Latibeaudiere, Bidwell, Dhanda, Freeman, O Cooper, Arriola, Whittaker.

Goals: Roberts 19, Ayew 90+4

Yellow card: Manning 71

Referee: David Webb

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