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Swansea City 1 v 0 Huddersfield Town
SkyBet Championship
Saturday, 25th September 2021 Kick-off 15:00
Swansea City turn on the first half style to win their first home game of the season
Saturday, 25th Sep 2021 17:29 by David Cornish

It wasn’t a pretty second half but it was a glamorous and scintillating first half that gave the swans all the points this afternoon at the swansea.com stadium. The lack of home wins no longer needs to be mentioned, and the vast majority of Swansea City fans will be more than happy tonight.

Swansea City played out a first half at the swansea.com stadium this afternoon that was full of control, belief and imagination. From the start the midfield pressure dominated the game leaving Huddersfield only with scraps to feed off throughout the forty five minutes. The terriers had literally no answer at all to the swans continual harassment of the Yorkshireman at every turn. Flynn Downes and Matt Grimes looked at last a midfield unit switching with each other to mop up any loose balls, and Olivier Ntcham was industrious and strong. The real bright light was Ethan Laird who for the first time this season looked like he was enjoying his football. With a smile on his face he terrorised his markers,twisting and turning and providing opportunities for Jamie Paterson and Joel Piroe.

Ethan Laird terrorised his markers in the first half today

With Michael Obafemi, Morgan Whittaker, Ryan Bennet and Rhys Williams all missing from the squad the swans initial set up, not dissimilar to last Saturday was not only unconventional to what we have seen this season, it worked really well. Ryan Manning with Ben Cabango and Kyle Naughton at the back looked pretty comfortable with Manning the stand out player. He was able not only able to carry out his primary role in defence, he was also able to link play with the midfield feeding Jake Bidwell to raid forwards on numerous occasions.

As ever we had to look to missed opportunities with Joel Piroe and Jamie Paterson having guilt edged chances to score. Piroe’s goal was at the end of a wonderful Swansea move as he took his opportunity calmly firing it in to the back of the Huddersfield net. Huddersfield keeper Nicholls actually kept his side in it with two splendid saves, had it not been for him the score line at half time would have been far more. The terriers real issue was the anticipation of Swansea City’s players when Huddersfield actually got on the ball, hunting in packs and getting a foot in their play was so disrupted they couldn’t breath without a swans player on their backs.

It was a joy to watch, at last the Russell Martin era seemed to be clicking and in full flow.

No Piroe No party

The second half started far more level with the terriers creating a well worked high ball move and flick on but Toffolo fluffed his lines. The away side looked more industrious for sure, leaving their foot in where they could which was a clear tactic to upset the Swansea ball domination tactic. Upping their physicality they looked far more threatening than at any point in the first half. A higher press as well aided their change of mindset. The swans threatened down their attacking left with a lovely Bidwell cross that went out for a corner. From that corner Downes drilled a shot which was deflected by the away side for another corner. With the games flow it was clear this half would be far more even.

And it was.

More brutal tactics to rough up Ryan Manning in the first ten minutes saw him on the floor twice in tough challenges. The swans also looked slightly off the pace as opposed to their first half anticipation of Huddersfield’s passing. Piroe had two chances to close down Nicholls in the Huddersfield goal but chose not to. The second one had he done so would have been productive as the keeper skyed the ball out of play.

The swans seemed to be lacking fizz, Piroe was off the pace and Laird did little for the first twenty minutes of the half. With play becoming scrappy and Huddersfield applying more pressure in the swans half Korey Smith and Liam Cullen were brought on for Jamie Paterson and Joel Piroe. Cullen a straight swap for Piroe and Smith required to shore up the midfield which wasn’t responding to Huddersfield’s rough house tactics and increased desire. For all that the terriers created nothing of note, and the swans settled a bit more. Josh Koroma began to pull the midfield strings for the away side as they gained more territory and corners. But every move came to nothing.

Huddersfield were getting lucky with the rub of the green, loose balls falling to them nicely, but their industry in positive situations was lacking still. The last fifteen minutes provided more excitement and nervous nail biting for swans fans. The difference in the first half and second half in Swansea’s style of play was obvious, and to an extent back to the frustrating games of late. Ntcham was replaced after bad cramp in a full on challenge, his replacement Jay Fulton again on to shore up,and add fight to the midfield.

Again Huddersfield pushed on giving the swans defence plenty to think about. High clearances and anxious moments continued. It seemed the swans were settling for the one goal, but it was a very dangerous tactic. With the passing completely gone from Swansea’s game the home side looked tired and slow in possession. It was the visitors who were anticipating passes and being stronger in the challenge. With ten minutes to go the swans had created nothing since the short positive spell on fifty minutes. Again Downes was needed to recover attacking situations, he does have significant pace.

Swansea had toughened up in midfield but time and time again the loose ball fell to an away player. For all that Huddersfield didn’t create any situation of note, no clear chances and nothing they could complain about regards refereeing. The swans looked the livelier in the last few minutes, a Liam Cullen goal was scratched off after a Fulton shot was parried by Nicholls. There was little in it. When referee Gavin Ward blew up for the end of the game there was a huge sigh of relief, the seventeen thousand plus crowd were ecstatic. It was a team performance with the old guard of Smith, Fulton and even Cullen making some difference when the game had slowed, and players looked tired. It’s a huge positive for Russell Martin as the swans travel to Craven Cottage on Wednesday for what will be a completely different game for Swansea City.

It’s a first home win of the season for Swansea, and it’s been met with a huge intake of breath, the season is underway.

Swansea City: Hamer; Cabango, Naughton, Manning; Laird, Downes, Grimes (C), Bidwell; Paterson (Smith 68), Ntcham (Fulton 75); Piroe (Cullen 68).

Subs not used: Benda, Latibeaudiere, Cooper, Walsh.

Goal: Piroe 17

Yellow cards: Naughton 82, Smith 89

Huddersfield Town: Nicholls; Pearson, Lees, Colwill; Turton (Koroma 61), Hogg (C) (Odubeko 83), O'Brien, Toffolo; Sinani, Campbell (Holmes 64), Thomas.

Subs not used: Bellagambi, Sarr, High, Vallejo.

Yellow cards: Holmes 89, Colwill 89

Referee: Gavin Ward

Attendance: 17,091

Photographs licensed from Reuters

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