|Swansea City 2 v 1 Middlesbrough|
Saturday, 6th March 2021 Kick-off 15:00
Swansea sneak it again in a replay of Wednesday night : Warnock’s tactics backfire
Saturday, 6th Mar 2021 19:17 by Keith Haynes & Steph Thomas
Just how this game ended in a swans win is totally beyond any comprehension as referee Gavin Ward awarded a last minute injury time penalty to Swansea in a replay of Wednesday nights win at Stoke. Neil Warnock shouting and running around like a spoilt man child at the end was the icing on the cake as Cooper’s side won a game they were possibly lucky at one time to earn a point from. However, it’s persistence, even when the team is as poor as it was again today which seems to be the winning formula.
The first half started in what genuinely looked like a walking football contest, and that Boro tactic seemed to suit both sides. Thirty seconds being taken for throw ins, injuries being waited for even though the player was off the pitch, it was surreal to say the least. Referee Gavin Ward aided the slow pace of the game seemingly happy to stop matters and get involved with the walking side of the game. It was at least fifteen minutes before a player stretched his legs, and for a moment anyone watching would have thought the players had just woken up from a big sleep.
An aerial Akpom
The first opportunity fell to Boro after a scramble close to Woodmans goal as the keeper inadvertently touched the ball away for a corner. Once again the closing in tactic on Woodman was evident as it was last week against Bristol City. Good deliveries by Middlesbrough we’re managed well by the swans defence, with Cabango instrumental in clearing opportunities. Bolassi then got in on the act with a smart shot that didn’t worry Woodman. However, Boro’s ability to slow the game to an almost stop then burst forward with energy seemed lost on Swansea’s starting eleven.
After twenty minutes of not a lot the swans decided to squeeze up closer to the Boro midfield. Korey Smith the spare man in was in there closing down and constantly running to intercept loose balls. Maybe that was the swans problem for the first half an hour. Second balls were rarely won, even after Grimes and Fulton had broken up play the ball seemed magnetically drawn to a red shirt. The swans had to work hard as when they did raid forwards Warnock’s men were able to get back in to their formation making through balls and opportunities rare. Swansea did look the better side and their persistence paid off when Ayew latched onto a Boro error in the penalty area, two players heading the same ball saw it deflect to Ayew who had the time and presence of mind to fire home a shot inside the keepers near post.
Hourihane started the game in a midfield four
In a way Warnock’s tactics had backfired on him, his teams desire to slow the pace of the game down, and dominate the loss in tempo caused absolute chaos in their own area as the swans pushed their entire midfield into spaces that caught out Boro’s match day tactic. The outcome was not a deserved goal for Ayew but a victory for a swans side who kept on playing football and looking for opportunities to score. They faced eleven men behind the ball for most of the first half making their free flowing game difficult. However, as referee Ward blew for half time most swans fans would be happy with the lead despite the pretty poor fayre on offer overall. The main hope now would definitely be no repeat of any capitulation as seen last Saturday against Bristol City, and a desire to go on and out the game to bed positively.
Ayew attempts an overhead kick in a poor game at the Liberty
Sadly that didn’t happen as Swansea looked ragged from the off, and well off the pace, and that continued throughout the rest of the game. There was a moment of controversy when Fulton was pulled down in his own area, the result was a stray ball which went to Bola who fired home. To be honest it was a deserved equaliser, that is of course if it was legal. It wasn’t. Referee Ward blew his whistle just before the strike on goal and slow motion replays clearly show a foul on Fulton by Bolassi. It was a good spot by Ward, but it certainly did inspire the swans for the first time in the half.
Jake Bidwell replaced Ryan Manning soon after as the Swans took the sting out of proceedings before Nathaniel Mendez-Laing and Marvin Johnson were summoned by Warnock. The game looked destined to end level, but Morsy then beat Woodman with a shot from the edge of the box in the first minute of injury time.
Tough day at the Liberty for both teams today
Right at the end of normal time Boro struck, Fulton failed to close down Morsy who fired his shot wide of Woodman, there was a slight deflection, Woodman had no chance. The game that became a bore, that was frustrating and completely devoid of any class at all delivered the final insult to Cooper. Surely that was it ? Well this goal was just the start of the madness. Boro looked the brighter side and Lowe replacing Smith did add a spark. With five minutes still to go you would have expected the swans to fold, to completely lose composure but they didn’t. Holding on for a point seemed to be the idea. Most swans fans would have settled for that too, but this is a mad season during mad times of utter madness.
Warnock completely loses it yet again
Then a slick move releasing Jamal Lowe on the right saw his measured pass crawl across the Boro goal to be met by Jake Bidwell. Inside the area he struck his shot just wide as he was brought down and referee Ward again blew up, seemingly at first for a corner, then he switched his decision to a penalty for the swans. Unbelievable, after such a dismal and poor swans showing that never looked like winning them three points. Ayew stepped up, calmly assessing the goal, stepped forwards in his usual style and put the ball straight down the middle of the Boro goal. The celebrations were incredible, the performance didn’t deserve this ending, but that was the ending. Swans players celebrating whilst Neil Warnock jumped up and down like a spoilt child who can’t get his own way. He was so illuminated it earned him a yellow card as he remonstrated loudly with the officials. Screaming at the top of his voice, animated isn’t a word, outrage and total anger etched across his face. He never likes it regardless of the decisions that go against him, and we are all sure here that come his post match press conference he will have much to say, and get his usual fine from the football league.
Hotly disputed but not a goal, the Boro goal that wasnt
This was not a bad performance by the swans, bar a few first half moments it was seriously bad, ineffective, slow and weak all over the park for most of the game. Cooper’s tactic of playing Ayew up front never really got his side ticking, but the extra man in midfield at least saw some solidity when play broke down. Even then the failure to get to a second ball was glaringly obvious. Hourihane is most certainly a welcome addition to the side but when it’s time to fight, scrap and do whatever is necessary he is lacking in quality. It’s most certainly the quandary of Copper’s season. The swans go again on Tuesday night away at Blackburn, somehow well in the right places to launch themselves in to the automatic places. How that is the case after today performance is astonishing. It wasn’t unlucky Boro it was out of form Swansea, and still they win the game. Another win at Blackburn will see the swans in to second spot in the championship two points ahead of Watford, and five clear of Brentford.
Ayew celebrates scoring another last gasp penalty
Something is happening in the land of Lady Luck, but you make your own luck, and to win games when you are this poor says more about the side than even Steve Cooper will be able to explain. This side has real determination, it doesn’t know when it is beaten, even when they play like a lower half of the table championship side.
Managers comments, Warnock - "I'm sure I'll get an apology now from (director of referees) Alan Wiley, which I've had three or four times in the last six weeks. I've had that many apologies I don't know what to do with them. "He (Gavin Ward) thought it was a free-kick to them (and so disallowed Marc Bola's goal). He hadn't see (Yannick) Bolasie won the ball. It's either a penalty or a goal. He's blown the whistle before Bola's shot hit the goal and gave a defensive free-kick. I'm a little bit bewildered about the penalty. He pointed for a corner kick but he assures me that when he thought about it he thought George (Saville) didn't get any of the ball and he thought it was a penalty. I asked 'Why did you point to the corner flag? Were you guessing?'. That's what he said. We are going to have to be a good team next year, to overcome all the decisions that go against us. But we will be. We'll do it off our own bat. I thought we played some great stuff today and i was really pleased. I thought we came of age."
Warnock finds another person to complain to post match
Talk about tempting fate, Warnock said he was embarrassed by the penalty Swansea got on Wednesday pre match, nothing to do with him, and his opinion was merely to very poorly play mind games with the swans. And almost as if there was a higher entity listening to Warnock’s cheesy remarks at the end of the game, he took off like a huge firework. When the end of the game came he really had something to complain about. Oh well.
Managers comments, Cooper - "It wasn't a fluid game. I think you come up against certain teams, managers and styles and you know it's going to look a certain way at times. It was probably a bit too much of that, truth be told. It's a busy schedule. It was only a couple of days ago we were four hours away, we didn't get back until 3.30am, they've had an extra day's rest, made a load of changes and they've got a massive squad to pick from. It was going to be tough. But if ever there's a message to give to supporters to thank them for their support having been one year away from the stadium, then that's for them. "That is for them. That is for the Jack Army because they've seen a team there that is absolutely fighting like mad for them."
The challenge continues. Let’s get it on for Tuesday.
Swansea City: Woodman; Naughton, Cabango, Guehi; Roberts, Grimes (C), Smith (Lowe 67), Fulton, Manning (Bidwell 73); Hourihane; Ayew.
Subs not used: Hamer, Latibeaudiere, Dhanda, Bennett, O Cooper, Arriola, Whittaker.
Goals: Ayew 40 & 90+6
Yellow cards: Manning 64, Guehi 71
Middlesbrough: Bettinelli; Dijksteel (Spence 16) (Mendez-Laing 77), McNair, Hall, Fry, Bola (Johnson 77), Howson (C), Saville, Morsy, Watmore (Akpom 46), Bolasie (Kebano 66).
Subs not used: Archer, Fisher.
Goal: Morsy 90+1
Yellow cards: Bolasie 39, Saville 46
Referee: Gavin Ward
What did you think today ? Are you as stick for words or was it justified ? Let us know below or comment on our forum
This was a real struggle with rare glimpses of class, Ayew fires home the first
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