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Swansea City 1 v 1 Blackpool
SkyBet Championship
Saturday, 20th November 2021 Kick-off 15:00
Swansea City undone by the referee but credit to Blackpool
Sunday, 21st Nov 2021 09:45 by Gruff Stephens

You cant say Russell Martin wasn’t warned pre match of his opposition number Neil Critchley and his ability to change tactic mid game. Not only that to set his side up to nearly always get something from an away game in the EFL. He did it again yesterday at Swansea as the Seasiders took a point from an exciting clash at the Swansea.Com stadium.

Swansea City impressed massively in the first half yesterday. Their football at times was exquisite and exillerating. Dominating play with Matt Grimes sublime in the midfield and a sweeper come attacking display from Flynn Downes was electric. Olivier Ntcham again displayed his real benefit to the swans with his pick pocketing of Blackpool’s midfield in a wonderful performance from the Frenchman. On the right hand side of the pitch Ethan Laird tormented his opposite number getting in to dangerous positions, even in the second half when the swans seemed to run out of steam. It was all tidied up by Joel Piroe with a worldy of a strike to put the swans 1-0 up in front of a partisan support.

The fact the swans didn’t go on and seal the deal in the first half was down to over play and of course the referee Keith Stroud. Persistently blowing up for fair challenges, and then waving away penalty appeal after penalty appeal frustrated Russell Martin’s men, and eventually it took its toll on the second half. On the balance of both sides performance this game was a worthy draw, something we predicted pre game yesterday. Both of these sides are worthy contenders for a play off spot this season for sure.

Piroe is brought down but the penalty claim is ignored

If it wasn’t for the appalling judgement of Keith Stroud aided by two very inconsistent assistants this games conclusion would have been seen as a fair result. The fact the swans had two very genuine penalty appeals waved away tainted that for Blackpool. Critchley made several second half changes, and made some clever readjustment which eventually earned his side the draw. You cant take that away from him or his side. However it was Swansea City who should have been far away in the distance come the defensive mishap which gave the away side the point.

Olivier Ntcham fired in a shot in the first half but it was saved, but nothing could take away from Piroe’s magnificent effort from outside the area. The shot swerved and rose in to the Blackpool net leaving keeper Grimshaw absolutely motionless, there was nothing he could do about it. In the second half the game changed tact, Blackpool as they did at Reading and Middlesbrough sensing the game had something in it for them pressed on. It has to be said the swans defence looked well drilled and not in any real danger until Keshi Anderson fired home a deflected shot from a set piece. Again, it has to be said the swans were warned. There was an element of good fortune in the equaliser, but Russell Martin made changes to see out the game, and sadly for him they didn’t work. Piroe was replaced by Obafemi who frustrated again and seemed a yard short. Korey Smith as well looked off the pace and his introduction seemed to be the point that Blackpool felt they could snatch something from the game.

Another penalty claim is turned down, Laird tripped in the area

Another Swansea City nemesis is referee Keith Stroud, the last seven swans games he has officiated have resulted in no wins. The in play decisions he made all went against the swans. Fine tackling was penalised, and four penalty claims went without consideration, well, they were considered, but not given. Stroud has affected several swans results with his decision making in recent times, and will be remembered for his ridiculous handling of Liverpool v Swansea in 2014 in the premier league. That game doesn’t tell the whole story though, he has had many more controversial games involving the swans, and yesterday was just another in the long list of his poor officiating.

Do you get the feeling a pattern is forming here ?

Again, that aside Russell Martin has admitted his team were second best at times in the second half, and really should have gone in to the break more than one goal up. Their domination at that point with over 70% possession indicating more chances need to be carved out and taken to win Championship games. Blackpool’s brilliance away from home is testament to the ability of their manager. Neil Critchley made his name as a coach in Liverpool’s academy but it’s at Bloomfield Road that he’s started attracting the attention of a wider audience. The 43-year-old’s achievements at Blackpool have seen him touted for greatness and he is treated like a deity by the club’s fanbase who are enjoying a wild ride after some tough years on and off the pitch.

Russell Martin was philosophical post match “We would have been relieved if we had got there, I think,” said Martin. We were really disappointed with the second half. In the first half I thought we were really good against a very aggressive press. They were really well organised and you could see why they have such good away form.I thought we would weather the storm for that 10 or 15 minutes and come out with a bit more energy, but we did not do enough in that period to have any control. We played some great stuff through the press and gave the ball up way too easy, we tried to force things and got a bit anxious I think. The best thing about the first goal was the patience we showed, we had a lot of passes before the goal. We gave Joel the time and space to do what he did, but it felt a little flat after that.

Russel Martin - The penalty decisions
“We should have had two penalties which would have changed the game, but I don’t want to blame the referee for drawing the game. We conceded a really poor goal, and that’s not on him, that’s on us.“It was really frustrating second half, it feels like we have lost even though we haven’t. “But we have to be better, the game swung completely the other way in the second half and that should not happen. They had far too much ball and we did not have enough energy and intensity, and as a coaching group I think we have to take responsibility for that and maybe we worked the guys too hard this last couple of weeks. “It was the last chance we had to put some work into them and we might have gone too far as we lacked energy today. “But we have a point, we are unbeaten in a long time at home and we have a chance to put things right on Wednesday.”

It has to be said, and this is for both Joel Piroe and Michael Obafemi, their reluctance to close down the goalkeeper was once again telling today. Piroe had two opportunities to take the ball off keeper Grimshaw, Obafemi the same. Had they put in at least a spurt of speed the keeper would have been in trouble. That was frustrating. It was a great game to watch and both sides bar the referees daftness deserved the point apiece. The swans move on to Barnsley away on Wednesday where thankfully Keith Stroud won’t be involved, and Russell Martin’s team might get a more fairer crack of the whip.

Swansea City: Hamer; Laird, Naughton, Cabango, Manning, Bidwell; Grimes (c), Downes; Ntcham (Smith 74), Paterson; Piroe (Obafemi 71)

Subs: Benda, Cullen, Latibeaudiere, Walsh, Williams

Blackpool: Grimshaw; Gabriel, Sterling, Ekpiteta, Husband, James, Wintle, Connolly (Dale 81), Mitchell (Bowler 66), Anderson, Yates (Lavery 71)

Subs: Moore, Gretarsson, Dougall, Madine

Attendance: 16,886

Photographs licensed from Reuters

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