It was heartbreak for the Swans at the Liberty Stadium this afternoon after a last minute goal from Pablo Hernandez was enough to move Leeds within touching distance of the Premier League and leave the Swans still staring upwards at the play off spaces.
When the league leaders arrive at the Liberty you know you are going to get a tough test and that was just what today proved although it should be said early doors that the Swans were not a side clinging on for large parts of the game and you could easily argue that, first half in particular, we had the best of the play even if it wasn’t the majority of the possession.
With Conor Gallagher shining in midfield, this was a Swansea team who took the game to Leeds rather than sitting back and waiting for the opportunity to hit them on the break. The very early stages saw Leeds start brightly but then fade away as the Swans started to get on top although much of the first half play was scrappy all round with a series of niggling fouls stopping play more often than you would assume either side wanted to happen.
Brewster had a snap shot that went straight at the keeper in what was possibly the best chance of the game although both Ayew and Gallagher were denied an opportunity to set up a chance by a late and desperate Leeds block. At the other end it was Kyle Naughton who came the closest for Leeds after some confusion between him and Woodman saw his sliced clearance hit the side netting to earn the visitors a corner.
Half time saw the introduction of former Swan Pablo Hernandez and Leeds always look a better prospect when he is on the pitch then when he isn’t. Woodman saved point blank from Patrick Bamford when it looked for all the money as if the striker would move the visitors three points closer to the Premier League whilst Gallagher saw a strong run and shot tipped over the bar for a corner.
I think one of the most surprising things for me today was Leeds was the number of cheap fouls they conceded particularly through sly kick outs at Swansea players on the ball and the free kick count seemed to back that up. Incredibly though in the first half we picked up more yellow cards than the visitors which seemed strange given the pattern of play and fouls.
Both sides I am sure would have settled for a point at the start of play, the Swans knowing that would be enough to take them into the top 6 and Leeds knowing it would have been enough to take them within two wins of the Premier League. As the game went into the last 15 minutes you got more of a sense that just one goal would be enough to be the difference between the two sides.
Both sides though were being starved of clean cut chances and shots from long range were the norm and neither keeper was finding themselves overly troubled as the game headed into its closing stages.
It was a late goal at Elland Road from Wayne Routledge in August that gave the Swans a win and this time it was a late goal from Pablo Hernandez that did the same for Leeds. It just had to be the former Swansea City man who scored the goal as he capitalised on a good Leeds move to squeeze a well struck shot home off the inside of the post and to break Swansea hearts.
A bad afternoon for the Swans got worse with a late injury to Freddie Woodman in stoppage time that saw him replaced by Mulder and everyone will be hoping that he can regain his fitness ahead of the next game given what has been some very good form from him in recent weeks.
From the moment that Hernandez gave the visitors the lead in the 89th minute to the end of the 8th minute of injury time I thknk there were an incredible 7 substitutions with the two minute celebration and injury to Woodman. The Swans introduced Celina, Cullen and Byers but waiting until we were a goal down on a hot day instinctively felt the wrong thing but one that we will never know if it could have made the difference
Defeat for the Swans is a blow to our promotion hopes but it certainly doesn’t kill them off and it is now down to the manager and the squad to pick themselves up and get back to winning ways at Nottingham Forest in midweek.