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Luton Town 3 v 3 Swansea City
SkyBet Championship
Saturday, 18th September 2021 Kick-off 15:00
Swansea City show real class after an appalling start : Sunday supplement
Sunday, 19th Sep 2021 08:00 by Keith Haynes

After twenty minutes of the game at Kenilworth Road the swans were on their knees, absolutely torn apart. They looked like schoolboys trying to play against men. The worst forty five minutes of football I have seen from Swansea City in many seasons, but then, whatever Russell Martin said at half time it all came good. The most incredible turn around from one half to another in recent memory.

The first half of this game was so shocking from a Swansea City viewpoint its hard to yet again introduce the usual statements about this season. I’ll say them once and we can move on. The swans were lazy in possession, clueless as to how to pass the ball, their defending was utter nonsense and the play was slow, ponderous, laborious and laboured, and that’s the best I can say. To Luton’s credit they set up with a simple four player high press against a back three of KyIe Naughton, Ryan Bennett and Rhys Williams. Unfortunately for the young Liverpool loanee Williams he had what can only be described as an appalling half.

All three defenders were the masters of their own downfall, they couldn’t cope with being pressed when playing out from the back, Ben Hamer in goal looked like he was totally confused by the tactics, and the wing backs in Ethan Laird and Ryan Manning were lost in a game that just rolled on by. It was a shocking performance highlighted by some very odd refereeing decisions, from the very odd Tony Harrington. Not that any of that mattered, Luton had a clear plan and thanks to Swansea City not knowing where they should be, or at least having the ability to pass the ball to another player in the same team, Luton took full advantage.

On the twenty three minute mark and three down the swans were out of it completely. Matt Grimes looked clueless in midfield, consistently turning back and switching the ball sideways and backwards with the equally bemused Flynn Downes. Both seemed like they were out for a Saturday afternoon stroll. Ben Hamer found himself the recipient of plenty of back passes, even when Jamie Paterson and Ryan Manning did manage to get the ball forwards, Michael Obafemi couldn’t trap the ball, or look even close to the player we thought he would be this season after Wednesday nights impressive showing. He was so out of touch with the game, if there was to be one striker up front it seemed pointless. A total waste of time.

Rhys Williams had a very difficult first forty five minutes

One incident of note was an appalling challenge by Henry Lansbury on Ryan Manning, one of the most shocking challenges you will see in many years. ( video below ) Referee Harrington booked Lansbury when he should have seen a straight red, and much to the amusement of even Luton Town supporters he booked Manning as well. A completely bizarre and amateurish decision by Harrington who clearly had lost the plot. He needs retraining, it isn’t the first time that’s been said.

Cheered on by a full away end the swans really must have been feeling the pressure ( and embarrassment) as misplaced passed found them selves at the feet of a marauding Luton attack. The inevitable just had to happen. It took only seven minutes for Luton to make the breakthrough, with Swansea's failure to clear Harry Cornick's long throw punished emphatically by Berry, who crashed in his third goal in as many games from 12 yards.

Luton players can hardly believe their luck as they go three up against Swansea City

Kyle Naughton was then fortunate to get away with a loose pass on the edge of his own box as Adebayo fired over, but the Swansea defender was caught out once more a minute later as he tangled with Cornick and referee Tony Harrington pointed to the spot. It was harsh and a review shows clearly that it was not a penalty. It was despatched leaving a despairing Ben Hamer diving desperately but in vain. It was the way of the game.

To cap it all Luton scored a fine third goal as Kal Naismith's diagonal pass sent James Bree into space and his measured cross was tapped in at the far post by Adebayo. The swans were out, dead and buried. And it could have been more, misplaced passes continued from Naughton and Williams, free kicks in attacking positions went wide or backwards, it was a total mess. At 3-0 at half time it felt the game was lost.

Martin made a triple substitution at half time, sending on Joel Piroe, Olivier Ntcham and Ben Cabango. Then after a few minutes of the second half Obafemi hit the woodwork for Swansea, and then Jamie Paterson did the same. Maybe, just maybe the swans could make the scoreline more respectable.

Olivier Ntcham celebrates after a blistering strike for the swans second goal of the match

Russel Martin said post match - “There was no blame. I felt really calm about it. There's no point in shouting and ranting," said the head coach when asked what he told his players at half time. "It was about questioning them and asking them how they want people to leave this game feeling about them as people, not as players. The people that have travelled here, they expect a bit of fight. It would have been really easy to feel sorry for ourselves with how bad the first half was. So I said I just want you to come out and fight and stick to the work we've been doing. The first half was nowhere near where we want to be or have been in the last two games. We were really disappointed with how that went, and the beauty of the process and clarity in what you’re doing is that we’ll learn from it for sure. It can’t happen again, it won’t happen again."

For all the words it was Olivier Ntcham who turned the game completely. He was orchestrating the midfield, linking play between the defence and attack, and picking out sublime balls to both wings. He was magnificent. His second goal, slightly deflected was a real classic. The leveller came from more good work from Ntcham and Laird before Joel Piroe rifled in a well placed shot in front of the travelling swans masses. They were jubilant, and the effort getting back level was the least those fans deserved.

Oh yes, it’s only a point but it felt like a win

Afterwards Martin commented “The second half was incredible. I’m so grateful to the guys and so proud of them – the guys that came on, and the players who were already on the pitch feeling that pain, that took some real courage to dig in and to play that way," said Martin. "We were outstanding and we should have won it in the end. It was attack versus defence in the second half. They had a couple of moments on the counter, but that will happen when we play like that. "Joel was brought to the club before us, but he suits exactly what we want to be. The club have obviously done their work. "Olivier was one we were desperate to bring in. I don't need to tell you why”

"Ethan Laird the same. We worked with him last year. Jamie Paterson, the shift he puts in, outstanding. "These are the guys we brought to the club to try and help us bring the vision and the team we want, and they're going to do that. "None of them are quite at 100% either which is the best thing because we know they're going to keep improving”

Joel Piroe hits home Swansea City’s third goal of the day

Nathan Jones commented after the game his players were out on their feet, and Harry Cornick’s miss in the second half gave the swans renewed hope. It was a turning point, but to be honest it shouldn’t have been a question. That first half was abysmal for the swans, a coaching and player double bill catastrophe. Teams in the top places in this league won’t be as easy to turn over as Luton Town that’s for sure - and Russell Martin as much as anyone needs to learn, and learn quickly that performances like in the first half on Wednesday, and at Kenilworth Road this weekend are totally unacceptable.

Luton Town Sluga; Bree, Burke, Lockyer, Naismith (C); Osho, Mpanzu, Lansbury, Berry (Clark 60); Cornick (Jerome 76), Adebayo (Rea 89).

Subs not used: Shea, Hylton, Mendes Gomes, Pereira.

Goals: Berry 7, Adebayo 15 & 24

Yellow cards: Lansbury 28, Naismith 47

Swansea City: Hamer; Bennett, Naughton, Williams (Cabango 46); Laird, Downes (Piroe 46), Grimes (C), Manning; Walsh (Ntcham 46) MOM, Paterson; Obafemi.

Subs not used: Benda, Latibeaudiere, Smith, Fulton.

Goals: Paterson 63, Ntcham 86, Piroe 90+2

Yellow card: Manning 28

Referee: Tony Harrington

Attendance: 9,721 (831 away) * The away attendance does not correlate again with the amount of away tickets sold for this game which is in excess of a thousand. We will clarify this from our usual away following sources before the conclusion of today - hopefully.

Just in case you missed it, here is the brutal kick on Ryan Manning

Photographs Swansea City AFC

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