The Swans were left frustrated at the Liberty Stadium this evening as they failed to convert their clear dominance into the win that we deserved with a host of missed chances ensuring that both sides went home with a point with the Swans remaining 3rd in the table.
The Swans made just one change from the side which started against QPR on Boxing Day with Korey Smith coming into the side at the expense of Yan Dhanda. Most of the talk of course pre-game was about the new pitch at the Liberty which has been laid inside two weeks and was looking much more of the standard of which we have grown to expect in the last 15 years.
The Swans started brightly with some neat crisp passing that was designed to cause Reading issues and it was from one move that the first chance of the game came when a Bidwell cross was met by acrobatics from Ayew but unfortunately the ball sailed over the bar – had it gone in then you may as well have wrapped up the goal of the season award there and then.
Freddie Woodman has been very much a spectator in some recent games such is the strength of the Swansea defence at times but he was called into action midway through the first half when he saved well from a Reading forward after a well worked free kick which was well struck by McIntyre who was looking to build on his first Reading goal on Boxing Day.
It was a rare Reading attack in the first half hour though as the Swans continued to threaten through a series of free kicks and a long range shot from Ayew that was straight at the keeper but at this stage we were looking very much the better side and you sensed it may just be a matter of time before the first goal arrived. In particular, Fulton and Bidwell were linking well on the left hand side of the pitch whilst on the other side the Swans always had a willing outlet in Connor Roberts who in turn was linking well with Grimes.
And it was Roberts that was heavily involved in another superb move as his cross from the right was met by a diving Ayew header and superbly kept out by the keeper who would have struggled to reach it had it been directed at either corner of the net. The disappointment in Ayew’s face as the camera zoomed into him after the chance said it all in that he knew he had spurned the game’s best chance to date.
It was only though two minutes before the Swans topped that chance with another miss. This time Bidwell headed down a corner for Guehi who looked set to open the scoring but as he leaned back to shoot he only managed in blasting over from six yards out and the chance went begging once more. And like everyone we hoped that these good chances being missed would not come back and haunt us before the evening was out.
The game was all one way traffic as we headed towards the last five minutes of the half and Ayew had another chance but his shot was deflected straight at the keeper as we looked to press home the advantage. That advantage almost happened with a superb corner from Grimes which was hit goalwards by Fulton but blocked and as Reading broke seemingly with a numerical advantage of bodies, Ryan Bennett sacrificed himself for a yellow card to break up play as the half ended goalless although Woodman did have to keep out the resulting free kick but it was always one that he was going to make.
The Swans were forced into an early change in the second half when Bennett was forced off with what appeared to be a hamstring injury with him being replaced by Latibeaudiere – Cooper will clearly be hoping that any absence from Bennett will be a short one and the change precautionary more than anything.
And it was Latibeaudiere who almost opened the scoring with his first touch when he met Grimes cross with a powerful header that was well kept out by Rafael as we continued to search for the elusive goal. Bidwell was next to spurn a good chance for the Swans when he jumped just slightly too early to meet an Ayew cross and could only direct his header at the keeper who saved with some ease as the game headed into its last third.
The Swans were seemingly having an endless supply of corners with each of them looking as if they were posing a threat to Reading whilst Fulton was excelling in midfield setting up many attacks and working endlessly to get the ball back on what seemed to be the rare occasions that we didn’t have it in our possession.
Rafael was on hand again to prevent the Swans taking the lead on 70 minutes when Ayew’s header from a Roberts cross looked certain to hit the back of the net but somehow the keeper kept it out and the score remained 0-0, it really was turning into one of those nights where we just weren’t getting the rewards that our play was deserving.
Cooper introduced Casey Palmer for Smith with 17 minutes to go as he tried to make the side’s advantage count on what was fast turning into a frustrating night at the Liberty despite some of the excellent play we were putting together. Palmer’s introduction though coincided with us being less effective going forward and Reading were afforded the rare luxury of having possession of the ball although they were restricted to long range efforts as again we watched a side at the Liberty failing to cause too much trouble for Woodman in the Swansea goal or at least that was the case until McIntyre had his second chance of the game with a powerful header tipped over the bar by Freddie.
With five minutes to go Cooper introduced Gyokeres to the action at the expense of Lowe but by this point the pattern of the game was set for a goalless draw, a result that Reading will be more grateful of than the Swans who dominated proceedings but we were unable to convert the opportunities to goals.
The irony of this evening is very much that we have played games where we have created less and won and we can only hope that the missed chances tonight do not cost us later on in the season. The positives are very much we played a promotion rival at home and looked significantly better than them and if we continue to do that then we will pick up points in the key games at the Liberty (Watford, Brentford and Norwich) to come.
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