Swansea City will take a one goal lead to Griffin Park on Wednesday night after an entertaining night at the Liberty which saw Andre Ayew turn villain into hero after his penalty was saved but he struck a sweet winner against ten men Brentford.
This was what I would class as a typical first leg of a play off semi final. Two sides very cagey and organised in their approach in the first half before the second 45 minutes saw more open play and a very organised and impressive display from the Swans despite some early Brentford pressure.
With Wednesday night’s two goal hero Wayne Routledge missing the game through injury, Steve Cooper would have been pleased to have Mike van der Hoorn in the middle of his defence and he put in an impressive display alongside Guehi and Cabango as Brentford were restricted to half chances largely through the impressive looking Ollie Watkins.
We will need to keep him tight on Wednesday night if we are to go through to Wembley but we can take many many positives from our forward play that was composed and structured – particularly against ten men – and eventually got its just reward when Ayew smashed the ball home after some more impressive build up play.
Grimes, Gallagher and Fulton became stronger the longer the game got on and from the moment Henry was showed what looked to be a debatable red card there was only likely to be one winner as Brentford sat deeper and the Swans eventually broke them down.
The red card capped the end of a strange few minutes which saw the Swans earn a penalty and then see it well saved before Henry was shown a straight red for a foul on Connor Roberts. The Brentford bench – who had a first hand view of the challenge live – disputed the decision to award a foul and looked on incredulously as the red card was waved in the defender’s direction.
Ayew though for me was a clear man of the match for us as he was at the heart of almost everything that we did well. He seemed to be all over the pitch and his link up play with our midfield and in particular Connor Roberts was a joy to be seen. It was neat play with Gallagher and Fulton though that bought the goal and his finish into the top corner was one that no keeper was going to save.
As he sprinted to the bench to celebrate the overall team spirit at the Liberty was clear for everyone to see and at this point you certainly would not have banked against the Swans scoring a second goal. In fairness we also searched for it but Brentford were organised at the back.
We could easily have had a second penalty for a potential foul on Brewster but the madness of football suggested that if its not a penalty then the referee gives a dive – a penalty would have been generous but a card for a foul felt over the top.
In any two legged game it is always said that you cannot win the tie inside the first 90 minutes and Steve Cooper will be all too well aware of the danger of Brentford on Wednesday night. Make no mistake the pressure now is on them completely after losing three games on the bounce for the first time this season. We have to assume that they will come at us hard in the opening period and we need to retain the patience that we showed against ten men this evening.
Overall though another good night for Steve Cooper’s side and another excellent display and – more importantly – another massive win. Two more wins and we will be Premier League again – we carry on believing!