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Reading 4 v 4 Swansea City
SkyBet Championship
Monday, 18th April 2022 Kick-off 15:00
A whole season encapsulated in one game : Reading 4 Swansea City 4
Tuesday, 19th Apr 2022 08:25 by Keith Haynes

Every team has a game like this a season, many will recall the same scoreline at Hull City a few seasons ago. Luton being 3-0 up against Swansea City earlier in the season and being pegged back to 3-3 is another example. These games happen.

We could reference many of the teams playing in the championship this season, and they can tell the same story to some extent or another. The Swansea goals yesterday were superb in every way, the penalty apart of course, and the game was officiated at last by a competent individual in Kevin Friend. Well, by Championship standards. The three goals from open play displayed all the good things about Swansea City this season. The ending in the second half also put on show the dismal defending the team can illustrate, and the borderline incompetence of the goalkeeper and defensive set up.

Hannes Wolf still finding his way at Swansea City

We saw it all yesterday in an eight goal thriller any neutral would be happy to watch, the brilliance of Hannes Wolf in one moment with a curling shot to equalise a disputed penalty. Unfortunately his outfield contribution was tedious at times, but then there were flashes of brilliance as well. Hannes sums up all that is good and bad about the swans.

And we can reference Jamie Paterson as well.

For all his good play he definitely isn’t seeing the obvious pass these days, his receiving of the ball is decent but his options are limited by his own lack of awareness in front of him. Again, Paterson, a player who is still finding his feet after his behaviour in January has to take the rough with the smooth. And yesterday he was rough.

My main concern isn’t the back three as such but the panic that sets in when under pressure. Regardless of the selection by Russell Martin yesterday displayed the good in the firsthand and in contrast the utter abysmal decision making when it mattered most. Russell Martin won’t get away scot free either. His decision to shore up matters by bringing on Jay Fulton and Korey Smith had alarm bells written all over it. It signalled to the team they were on a more defensive footing and they looked lost at times.

And all this when the swans were 4-1 up.

If you are in disagreement maybe Russell Martin’s comments post match will help ? "We switch off for the second goal. We don't run as hard as we should. The third goal, again, we don't run as hard as we should. We don't pay attention to the detail as much as we did. “Then, for the fourth goal, their biggest guy in the box is not marked, and the guy coming in has time to chest it and hit it home. The quality of goals we conceded is so disappointing. I'm really frustrated for the fans. They were unbelievable. But we are seven unbeaten. I'm not going to be overly emotional, but the mentality wasn't quite right in the last half an hour”

There will be learning from this game, and the swans haven’t experienced such a collapse under Martin, and their failure to take some nailed on opportunities in the second half were so frustrating. Hitting the post and bar then skewing shots wide displayed a lack of attention to detail and ability to kill a game off. And Swansea City should have killed this game off at 4-1. We understand his frustrations and he was right when he said "Whenever we've been close this season, we haven't had quite had enough, and that's probably the sign of where we are. We are a team that's learning so much all the time, a group of young men that will improve from today. But if we're a really top team, there would have been no comeback for Reading at 4-1."

Next season is Martin’s catalyst, he knows what he needs and he is fully aware how he can get there, there’s no doubt about it. But it isn’t Martin missing gilt edged chances or losing concentration when it matters most. He can’t be the magical answer when the swans are flying and the fall guy when it goes wrong. The post match preparation was perfect for sixty plus minutes yesterday, and the players were set up to win this game. They were the reason for losing this game, and Martin acknowledged this when he said - “But if we're a really top team, there would have been no comeback for Reading at 4-1." That’s a direct reflection of the squad make up, a squad we have seen improve over the season, but has also displayed serious flaws as well.

The ups and downs all in one game

Yes, he is the manager and he most certainly takes the flak for performances like this, wrongly in my opinion, performances that he sets up his team to win games, that they then throw away. He cannot kick every ball and take every chance, he cannot run back to defend with the commitment that should be a natural part of his players game. We could review every player yesterday and all of them will have displayed all the flaws and issues we have seen this season. Yes, a whole season encapsulated in one game.

From the best to the worst, from the ridiculous to the sublime. Trying to compete with a team like Reading who play a completely different game to Swansea was a huge mistake. You can’t look comfortable in the last knockings of injury time in your opponents half, then collapse seconds later as Swansea did yesterday when Reading equalised.

But for certain fans to use this result as a stick to beat the manager with shows a complete lack of awareness as to where Swansea City are heading. There will always be pain when you strip back a clubs style of play and rebuild as Martin has done. We have to accept that, and to be honest if it bothers you that much it’s possibly best you don’t watch the games. It isn’t time to knock anything Russell Martin has done, we all know the script, and that can be read next season, not this.

Photographs licensed from Reuters

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