Andre Ayew and Jamal Lowe were both on target for the Swans at the Kiyan Prince Foundation Stadium this afternoon as the Swans secured a 12th clean sheet of the season to move into 2nd place in the Championship table with a 2-0 win over QPR.
Boxing Day football is traditionally one of those days where you look for the fixture just about as the lists are produced around June. But that was before Boxing Day 2020 where most of the games were behind tier 4 restrictions and it was more which seat on the sofa would you take for the game as opposed to where in the ground would you attempt to stand with your mates.
The game started with QPR under a new formation and looking like the in form team of the two spending most of the early exchanges on the front foot although arguably the best chance fell to Lowe who hit a shot straight at the keeper after some good work on the edge of the area from Dhanda.
That chance though was very much against the run of play in the first quarter of the game which seemed to be played almost exclusively in our defensive area even though the home side never really forced Woodman into a save despite their pressure thanks largely to the Swans defence holding as firm which is something we have become accustomed to.
The Swans were handed an unexpected lead though just before the interval when a cross on the right hand side from Roberts was headed onto the post by a defender with the rebound falling perfectly for Ayew who had the simple task of putting the ball into the back of the net to give us a lead which was definitely against the run of play not that anyone in the Swansea camp would have been complaining.
If the first was a sucker blow for the home side, the second was a killer one as a perfect through ball from Grimes saw Lowe run onto the pass and with his new found goal scoring composure he never really looked like missing and the Swans were two goals to the good and the second half was only eight minutes old.
They do say often that goals create confidence and you can see that in Lowe at the moment and he was on the hunt for more goals almost immediately as another shot flashed wide of the post as the Swans threatened to bury their hosts in a similar way to that magical one under Michael Laudrup on the same ground.
With second placed Bournemouth not in action due to the postponement of their game with Millwall, Cooper knew a win here would lift his side into second place in the table and keep some pressure on Norwich for their evening kick off against Watford. And with a two goal advantage there doesn’t seem to be the nervousness watching this team as we normally expect due to the defensive strength that has been instilled by Cooper and his coaching staff.
The pressure on Rs manager Mark Warburton was increasing by the minute as the second half wore on. The seeming inability of the side to even worry the Swans and as the game went into the last fifteen minutes the stat of them having just one shot on target despite 63% possession said much about the game and the difference between the two sides.
Warburton was trying to make changes with three coming on in relative quick succession but it only really succeeded in making the Swans look more comfortable with the result seemingly beyond any doubt and the Swans heading for the automatic promotion places at close of play.
Cabango was afforded the freedom of the QPR header from a Roberts free kick but he was too far out to do anything substantial with the header and it floated over the bar but it was signalling the total pattern of play of the game – the home side with very much the lion’s share of possession but the Swans having the chances most likely to change the scoreline.
The only question that seemed to need answering this afternoon was whether we could score three in the league for the first time this season and with the game entering the closing stages the Swans were again on the front foot with some neat passing in and around the home penalty area as they looked to achieve just that.
It wasn’t to be though but at the same time there was no real challenge from the home side who probed outside the area but Freddie Woodman had another comfortable afternoon thanks to the work of his defenders in front of him. Difficult decisions may have to be made as a result by QPR and it is difficult to see Warburton surviving this particularly when you think that they have Norwich next up.
That though is not to be our problem and it proved to be a happy Boxing Day trip for the Swans to West London. Another three points in the bag, another position up the league table and goals from our front two all makes it feel like a very effective job well done from Steve Cooper and his side.
It all now points to what starts to look like a huge game against Reading at the Liberty on Wednesday evening where three more points for Cooper’s team will make the league table look very nice indeed going into 2021.
RATE THE PLAYERS
MATCH FACTS AND LINE UPS
OTHER CHAMPIONSHIP RESULTS