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Barnsley 0 v 2 Swansea City
SkyBet Championship
Wednesday, 24th November 2021 Kick-off 19:45
Swansea City destroy Barnsley patiently and clinically
Thursday, 25th Nov 2021 08:00 by Gruff Stephens & Martin White

Russell Martin’s Swansea City played their way through a tough Championship game against newly managed Barnsley at Oakwell. Put aside the defensive tactics from Poya Asbaghi who for the first time took charge of the tykes they had absolutely no answer for the flying swans.

On the day the death of former swans manager Frank Burrows was announced Russell Martin dedicated this win to the Scotsman who led the swans to Wembley in 1994. In fact Frank would have been overjoyed with the passing and control the swans displayed against Barnsley.

Anyone who watches football on a daily basis will have seen that Russell Martin set his Swansea side up tonight to slowly manipulate possession, and then wear down the opposition down. Cleverly acknowledging that a spirited home side would not want to lose this game, Martin stuck to his principles on a cold night at Oakwell. The eighty one percent possession stats from the first half were incredible for any side, let alone one which has certain supporters still amazingly questioning the managers style in SA1. Only three months of hard work has turned this Swansea side in to a machine capable of upsetting any opposition with possession football.

That aside the swans didn’t fire on all cylinders until the last twenty five minutes or so of this game. Numerous passes were wasted in the first half and Manchester United loanee Ethan Laird looked tired at times. Indeed he was frustrated that his passing wasn’t up to his ususal incisive best. Looking across the midfield Martin went with Matt Grimes and Flynn Downes which ala Gerrard and Lampard of yesteryear still find it hard to tick for a whole ninety minutes. Okay they have a long way to go to even get close to those past masters but even their careful passing and methodical game plan looked slow at times, for all that they still dominated a negative Barnsley side.

The home side looked solid, but always behind the ball, watching the swans attempts to dominate the game, but doing nothing to match their tormentors. To be honest the first half would have pleased Asbaghi more than Martin. A lone Joel Piroe shot went just wide, and a half chance from the head of Laird was pretty much all the swans could muster. At the other end the tykes were toothless, devoid of any opportunity or effort as Kyle Naughton marshalled the defence easily in the face of absolutely nothing from the home side. Barnsley offered nothing, much the same as they did for the whole game. If Asbaghi thought this Championship lark would be easy he probably doesn’t think so post match.

The second half started in a similar vein, Swansea dominating possession so much it was embarrassing. Asbaghi must have been thinking through his post match comments on sixty five minutes. That would change dramatically with a more positive tactical change from Russell Martin. Asbaghi could only wish his team had the competence and confidence to do what happened next. With the game looking like a stalemate with Swansea probing but getting nowhere a switch was made. Olivier Ntcham and Ryan Manning came on to the field of play. The swans woke up, cross field passes were now crisp and effective, and it was Manning who was named twice on the pre match team sheet who supplied a sublime cross from the left for Ntcham to ghost in and score the opening goal. The travelling Jack Army of around four hundred* celebrated noisily behind the goal.

It has to be said the way Swansea City play is frustrating, not only for swans fans but my word does it bother the opposition. A few noisy boys in the home stand grew extremely edgy as the swans inter play and domination toyed with the opposition. Swans fans cheered and jeered as it was fast becoming clear the game was up for Barnsley who looked seriously out of their depth as the game went on. Neat play led to Jamie Paterson slide ruling a second goal as once again the swans support raced down to the away end fencing to celebrate. One Barnsley fan had seen enough, he led a one man assault on to the pitch, no longer wanting to see his side play for the next three years. He was pathetically led away shouting and struggling with stewards. That’s what Swansea City’s football does to you.

It does it to swans fans at times too.

Jamie Paterson scored the swans second at Oakwell

Now in ninth place in the Championship Saturdays home game will be telling. Is this a side that can seriously compete in the top six or are we seeing a repeat of Russell Martin’s first full season at MK Dons ? The former is more than likely the answer, especially on the evidence of recent weeks. As this game played out the swans could have easily gone on to demolish the opposition. They chose not to, it wasn’t as if Barnsley had given up, they just were not in the same class as Swansea City. Dropping down to a mere seventy nine per cent possession as the game wore on the away side had the game won.

Passing Barnsley to death within their own penalty area, Ben Hamer chipping in with his own brand of comfortable football in goal the swans looked light years ahead. The only observation will be that Swansea City could have, and should have pushed on and cleaned out the opposition. It is certain that as this season progresses that desire to overwhelm any opposition, but not killing off games could come back and bite them. That’s for the future though, it was a totally dominant and professional performance tonight from the swans. Added to that, and we have to be honest they didn’t ever get in to fourth gear, or even fifth or sixth if that’s your thing.

Post match Russell Martin was insightful “There was loads of purpose and loads of patience, but a real understanding of their roles, each other’s roles and the concentration and level of detail. We had the discipline to keep the structure and not get frustrated or anxious, it was brilliant to watch. I enjoyed the first half, I know it might not have been that exciting for the neutral, but I felt we were putting a lot of work into their legs and taking energy out of Barnsley as the half wore on and they got deeper and deeper. We had a couple of half chances but the message at half-time was to maintain that level of intensity and detail and concentration. They did that brilliantly, the amount of courage they showed – even late in the game at 1-0 up where it can be easy to take the easy option and play percentages – was just outstanding. I think we learnt a lot from Saturday, and that’s the process and they showed tonight we took everything on board. Oli injected a lot of energy and plays with such swagger and confidence, and Manning showed his composure in the final third after Jake Bidwell had worked really hard to take the energy out of Callum Brittain.”

We have said it before, the Russell Martin revolution is happening, it’s clear for all to see, and even though a few still hope for a slip up or blip in form ( and it will happen ) this journey is continuing. Despite those fans who leap from one result to the next and provoke others to react from one minute to the next Russell Martin has a plan. And just because it doesn’t look good after twenty minutes, like in Yorkshire it will come good after ninety.

Relegation ? Don’t make us laugh, look further east for that story.

Barnsley: Brad Collins, Jordan Williams, Callum Styles, Callum Brittain, Cauley Woodrow (captain), Josh Benson, Jasper Moon, Romal Palmer (Obbi Oulare 77), Dominik Frieser (Aaron Iseka 57), Michal Helik, Devante Cole (Carlton Morris 57).

Unused Substitutes: Jack Walton, Claudio Gomes, Toby Sibbick, Victor Adeboyejo.

Swansea City: Ben Hamer; Ryan Bennett, Kyle Naughton, Ben Cabango; Ethan Laird, Flynn Downes (Olivier Ntcham 64), Matt Grimes (captain), Jake Bidwell (Ryan Manning 72); Korey Smith, Jamie Paterson; Joel Piroe (Liam Cullen 86).

Unused Substitutes: Steven Benda, Joel Latibeaudiere, Liam Walsh, Rhys Williams.

Referee: David Webb 7/10

Attendance: 11, 860 (428 away supporters) *Reuters

Photographs licensed from Reuters

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