Swansea’s unbeaten away league record came to an end at Norwich this afternoon thanks to a late goal from our hosts which was the difference between the two sides in an entertaining game at Carrow Road.
In a game which flowed end to end on a very frequent basis the defeat can feel tough on the Swans who, once again, had their opportunities to score but it ended with just one clinical finish being the difference between the two sides at the final whistle.
Steve Cooper made one change from the side that started at Brentford on Tuesday night with Kasey Palmer coming into the side for Yan Dhanda as he once again shuffled things slightly given the run of games that has seen us play 7 games in a relatively short space of time since the end of the last international break.
With Reading having been beaten in the early Championship kick off the Swans went into the game knowing that a win would take them to the top of the league as we face into a two week break thanks to the latest of those international breaks.
It was an entertaining first half with both sides definitely pushing forward for the result. The Swans lived dangerously early on in the game with the referee only too happy to blow the whistle and the home side found themselves with three free kicks in relative quick succession on the edge of the box. Each of those though was blocked by a well marshalled Swans wall and Freddie Woodman was not called on to make a save of note in the first half which saw the home side have 12 shots at goal but only 2 on target.
At the other end though the Swans were not on the back foot and putting together some neat football which caused some concern in the Norwich defence. For their 12 shots in that opening period, we had 9 of our own and came the closest to opening the scoring when Ayew’s powerful header from a Roberts corner came back off the post.
Cooper elected to make a change at half time when he introduced Grimes for Naughton and moved the side to a 4-4-2 formation in a bid to shake things up and before the hour mark had been reached then Gyokeres was on for Palmer with it becoming clearer that Cooper sensed the victory was there for the taking.
At the back the Swans were always needing to be on full alert and it was a grateful (and well timed) block from Connor Roberts that kept out a Pukki shot just as the striker made room for the shot. At the other end though it was starting to feel like the Swans were getting the better of the game and Lowe spurned a great chance of his own when played through but he hit his shot straight at Krul and the danger had disappeared.
Or at least that particular piece of danger had as Grimes had a powerful shot blocked by the defence and both Ayew and Gyokeres forced further saves from Krul shortly after Norwich had made their own double substitution in a bid to try and get back into a game that they were gradually becoming second best in.
This game was becoming more entertaining as it went on and Pukki was a constant threat to the Swans defence whilst the Swans close passing was opening chances of their own and it was from one of these that Lowe forced another save from Krul who pushed the chance away and kept the game scoreless entering the last ten minutes.
On the evidence of this game alone you would say that both these sides will be challenging at the top end of the Championship for most of the season and it was evident – and very refreshing to see – that we were watching two teams who both appreciated the value that a win over a fellow promotion contender could give.
As the game entered the last ten minutes it was Norwich who seemed to up a gear in terms of their play and they were rewarded with 6 minutes to go with a goal from Stiepermann. His low shot was right into the corner of the net and gave Woodman no chance with the shot.
Cooper made an immediate change by introducing Dhanda for Fulton in a bid to get back into the game and looking to defend his side’s unbeaten away record in the league this season. The Swans continued to push forward in search of that equaliser but it just wasn’t to be and once again we are probably left to reflect on what may have been rather than what really happened.
We shouldn’t lose heart on a performance like this because on another day we could easily have come away with all three points and I am sure these will be the comments that Cooper comes out with at the end of the game. We now have two weeks to reflect on the defeat and our current position which saw us pick up 9 points from 21 in between international breaks which is probably slightly below par but also not fully reflective of some good performances.
This afternoon we were unlucky but we do have to be more clinical in front of goal.
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