The Swans have put some daylight between them and the chasing pack thanks to a goal either side of half time giving them a win at Barnsley this evening. We now sit four points clear of Bournemouth in 3rd and ten points clear of 7th placed Middlesbrough.
After the distraction of last week’s FA Cup tie it was back to league action this evening and on the back of a good afternoon for the Swans that saw them unexpectedly go into the game still in 2nd place in the table courtesy of Bournemouth’s defeat to Luton earlier in the day.
It was a much more familiar line up for Steve Cooper’s side who had made seven changes for the game at Stevenage last week with Joel Latibeaudiere back in the squad on the bench but still no place for Ryan Bennett.
In what was a largely scrappy opening twenty minutes it was the home side that had the best of the action and a couple of sharp shots from Adeboyejo sprung Woodman into action as the Swans struggled to really get hold of the ball and pass it around as know that we like to. In fairness though despite having the better of the play it would be wrong to say that Barnsley were dominating the Swans and outside of the one shot from the afore mentioned Adeboyejo there was nothing that had troubled Woodman fully inside the first half hour of the game.
Just as the first half appeared to be heading towards a pretty uneventful and goalless first half the Swans took the lead in stoppage time. A long throw (which had seemed to be overused in the first half) from Roberts on the right was met by Cabango and his looping header found the back of the net to give the Swans the lead not necessarily against the complete run of play but certainly from nowhere. It was pretty much the last (and almost only) action of a first half that must have had people reaching for the remote to control to see what else was on.
That goal certainly lifted the Swans going into the second half and after some good attacking possession Roberts came close to doubling the lead with a snap shot from a cleared corner that had Walton diving in desperation but the ball was comfortably wide of the target.
We didn’t though have to wait long for the second goal as confusion reigned in the Barnsley defence from a header from Grimes and the in form Jamal Lowe needed no second invitation to take on the ball and finish with some ease to put himself out alone as the Swans leading scorers. Maybe this was one of those nights that was destined to give us three points as replays suggested Lowe was offside when Grimes met the ball with his head but given some of the decisions that went against us earlier in the season we will take that all day long. There was still more than half hour to play but with our defence, a two goal advantage and a demoralised home team you suspected the game was as good as over even at this point.
And there was little doubt that Swansea were now becoming the very dominant team in the game as we started to press more and more in search of a third goal for the first time this season. And it became clearer and clearer that we had spotted a weakness in the Barnsley defence for a Roberts long throw with a period of him heading from side to side on the pitch to launch another one into the home side’s penalty area.
Barnsley could count themselves unlucky possibly not to be back in the game on 72 minutes when a powerful shot from outside the box by Brittain was superbly saved by Freddie Woodman to keep Barnsley at bay and protect with the keeper in search of yet another clean sheet.
Roberts almost grabbed the third in the 83rd minute with a teasing free kick that Walton needed to palm away for a corner as the Swans continued to push forward but with slightly more caution knowing that they didn’t want to risk undoing the good work to this stage. Defensively though we look stronger by the game and knowing that Bennett is still to come back into the defence just gives you confidence that we will continue to be tight at the back as long as we have the options that we do.
As the game headed into the three minutes of stoppage time you knew that the contest was over and the Swans were content – as we had been for 10/15 minutes to let Barnsley have the ball knowing that they had nothing to really trouble us with. A first league double of the season (first of many we hope) was completed without any real trouble and the Swans moved back within four points of Norwich.
We said as we went into the game this evening that capitalising on a poor week for Bournemouth was essential and we did just that this evening. We may not have been at our fluent best in the first half but a perfectly timed goal and another from Jamal meant that it was another good ninety minutes for Steve Cooper and his side and that league table will look very nice in the Sunday papers tomorrow.
Onwards to Blackburn.
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