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Swansea City 2 v 1 West Bromwich Albion
SkyBet Championship
Wednesday, 20th October 2021 Kick-off 19:45
Swansea City stun Albion with a superb second half performance
Thursday, 21st Oct 2021 08:00 by David Cornish

A superb display in total football in the second half of this encounter gave the swans all three points to haul them up to mid table in the championship. After a fairly even first half, albeit seeing the baggies go one up, the second half was a master class in possession football and determination in front of goal.

A slow start from the swans enabled a quick and early goal after fifty two seconds for the baggies at the Swansea.Com stadium. Ironically from a Jamie Paterson loose pass the away side took advantage of a sleepy Swansea defence as Karlan Grant fired his shot in to the net from close range. It has to be said Ryan Bennett should have done far better as the cross came in. The travelling support of around 400 were delighted at such a bright start in the driving Swansea rain.

After that the swans tried continuously to release Jake Bidwell who when receiving the ball had little momentum to get by his marker. Albion collected three yellow cards in the first half, proof in itself they are now committed to the rough house game much advocated by manager Valerian Ishmael. Despite a more longer ball tactic passes did go astray especially from the feet of keeper Ben Hamer.

Two extremely close decisions as the swans broke cross field went against the home side but all the first half gave us after that opening goal was a speculative shot from Piroe, and a poor execution from West Brom’s Matt Phillips. The half concluded with some very poor challenges from WBA. It has to be said overall the swans did look the weaker in challenges, not being allowed to play their normal passing game. The positives though were the swans probing as the half wore in, albeit without a clear chance Ethan Laird on three occasions was beaten by the pace of a sodden and rain soaked pitch. The promise of better things to come were there.

Baggies manager Ishmael has had four very educational experiences facing the swans in the last twelve months, albeit against a different manager in Steve Cooper, the passing game remains at Swansea. Clearly he has learned much from his time at Barnsley. Apart from the swans silly mistake at the start of the game, the match ended its first phase very even. Minus Ryan Manning who had not recovered in time from the south Wales derby and a rested Michael Obafemi, Ben Cabango came in at the back and justified his inclusion. There was very little bar the goal to separate the sides.

Ryan Bennett could have done better with the baggies opener

If the first half was about dogged and determined football, the second half was one for the purist. A brave substitution by Martin bringing on Olivier Ntcham for Flynn Downes proved an inspiring move, and Korey Smith edged across in to a more central role saw the swans go through the gears at an exceptional pace at times. Matt Grimes again proved to be the vital cog in midfield, tidying up loose balls, and proving to be the link between the midfield and attacking options ahead of him. Ntcham on the right supported by an advanced Ryan Bennett, and a very busy Ethan Laird harassed and pressed the Albion left flank. Chances came and went for the swans. Paterson twice choosing to shoot when Jake Bidwell was in acres of space to his left but the swans dominance was a joy to watch. Piroe, who suffered at the hands of some very marginal offsides began to get the better of his marker and looked favourite to win every ball placed over the top of the baggies high defensive line.

Swansea levelled when Paterson claimed a third assist in two games, lifting the ball over the top for Piroe. As the offside flag stayed down, the Dutchman showed admirable strength to hold off Clarke's challenge before stroking the ball beyond Albion keeper Sam Johnstone. Piroe showed strength and ability to remain calm and slot the ball home to equalise. Ntcham saw three more efforts fly wide as Albion wobbled, more composure from the Frenchman needed, one he should have buried.Then the visitors responded when Matt Phillips' thunderous 25-yard drive was pushed onto the bar by Hamer. It was a fantastic save, and from there it looked like only one team would take the points.

Joel Piroe returned the favour for Jamie Paterson to secure the win for the swans. A lovely pass in between the Albion defence after robbing the ball in midfield, saw a strong run from Paterson as he burst in to the penalty area. Fending off his challenger he toe poked home the winner. He was clearly delighted to score such a well taken winning goal. His trickery in possession turning his marker inside out before scoring was a fitting finalé to such a complete second half performance from the swans.

Paterson doing the hard things well yet again against WBA

Post match Russell Martin was philosophical about his teams performance. “We played with such intensity in the second half, we deserved to win, I really enjoyed what we did tonight. These players are giving us everything with no ego whatsoever. We spend so much time together, I’m so proud of them and what they are achieving here. West Brom are so good, they have some fantastic players, and are a real threat. On Piroe’s goal, “Joel needs to relax a little bit more in front of goal, and he has worked well on that, he is now feeling no anxiety in front of goal at all. So it’s working. He is another one with no ego, he has dropped all of that, whatever he thought he was two months ago has gone. Jamie Paterson is the same. He fought really hard against our philosophy for weeks, then saw the light as such, he sees the connections now, and it’s paying off for all of us. We said before the game let's just please back up the performance on Sunday with another one and thankfully we have done that."

Paterson scores the winner for the swans against WBA

“Let’s be clear” added Martin, “We are nowhere near where we want to be, the process remains the same, the stuff we need to improve on is there for all to see. Olly ( Ntcham ) is such a leader, he is strong and skilful, and adds a different dimension to our game. He got frustrated as he had chances to score, but thats the measure of him as a player. Our frustration if there was one in the first half was our need to get forward quicker, get possession back faster, and take set pieces quicker. That’s what we want”

On Joel Piroe Russell Martin was very honest “ When I first came here I saw someone who was worried, he had just signed and the manager had gone, he was exceptionally worried to be honest, but I saw nothing in him that told me he wanted to play. From there we had a talk and he knuckled down, that first week though he was lost. He is now willing to learn, buys in to what we are doing, and is reaping the rewards, everyone can see that now, and so can he”

Two P’s in a pod, Paterson & Piroe

Valerien Ishmael in response to his teams defeat said, "For sure we are disappointed to lose the game, especially with another mistake. It was the same against Stoke. "We started the game well - good pressing, we forced a lot of long balls, Swansea didn't create a big chance. Our problem throughout the game was our transition. We didn't keep the ball. Swansea came back into the game. The goal gave them the second breath. We had a big chance with Matt Phillips - the game was on the edge. At the end we made the big mistake. This is the reason we lost the game. We don't need to overreact. We play the next game on Saturday and we need the right reaction."

Ethan Laird was a thorn in the baggies side all evening

It was a super result for the swans which saw them take six points from their two home games this week. On Saturday the side trade, to Birmingham City for another tough game, but with a renewed confidence and expectation that no longer is there a fear when they play. There’s a supreme confidence, and play like they did in the second half against West Brom and very few sides will come close to them at any point this season.

It’s been a wonderful four days for Swansea City, and as we have been saying, the Russell Martin revolution is okay.

Swansea City: Hamer; Bennett, Naughton, Cabango (R.Williams 85); Laird, Downes (Ntcham 46), Grimes (C), Bidwell (Latibeaudiere 84); Paterson, Smith; Piroe.

Subs not used: Benda, Walsh, Whittaker, Cullen.

Goals: Piroe 61 ⚽️ Paterson 83 ⚽️

Yellow cards : 🟨 Bennett 56, Paterson 71

West Bromwich Albion: Johnstone; Furlong, Ajayi, Bartley, Clarke, Townsend; Livermore (C), Molumby (Snodgrass 79), Grant, Phillips (Reach 84), Robinson (Hugill 56).

Subs not used: Button, Kipre, Bryan, Gardner-Hickman.

Goal: Grant 1 ⚽️

Yellow cards : 🟨 Ajayi 9, Furlong 43, Molumby 45, Livermore 69

Referee: Simon Hooper 5/10. Bottled two decisions that would have reduced WBA to ten men.

Attendance: 16,649 ( 397 away )

Photographs licensed from Reuters

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