Connor Roberts was the Swans hero this evening as we turned a very poor performance into three more points thanks to his late headed winner which was the only chance of note that we created in a performance that will need to be improved on greatly if we are to keep our promotions ambitions strong.
After the disappointment of having our weekend game cancelled it was almost two weeks between league fixtures for the Swans with the 2-0 win over Norwich last time out being 12 days ago thanks to the FA Cup last midweek as well.
During that time the Swans have dropped from 2nd to 4th in the league thanks to results elsewhere but with Forest arriving at the Liberty nearer the bottom of the table then the top on confidence was high that we could build on our recent unbeaten league run.
There are some games that start slowly and come to life after the first five or ten minutes but it is fair to say that this was not one of them as neither side really struck any level of dominance in the first half hour. During this period the game was largely played in the middle third, neither midfield was taking control and, as a result, any goalmouth action was at a premium with the first half hour registering just one shot on goal and that appeared to be almost a pass to Woodman than a shot at his goal.
Indeed, it was a yellow card for Bennett that was the only action of note in the first half, the defender booked for breaking up a Nottingham Forest attack with a rugby tackle! As the teams went in at half time the mind immediately started to turn to whether either manager would use the interval as the time to make changes given the lack of impact of their starting selections on the first 45 minutes.
The answer to that question was nothing as both Steve Cooper and Chris Hughton sent the sides out for the start of the second half with no changes and the opening minutes of the second period started with the same flatness that most of the preceding 45 minutes had!
Jamal Lowe did record a first Swans shot on target in the 56th minute but as the ball rolled slowly on the ground towards the keeper it was a shot on target in name only and never something to test the keeper. At the other end, Grabham went immediately closer when his cross come shot went right across the front of the goal with nobody near it to stab home what would have been the simplest chance of the season.
As the game ticked past the hour mark it was a game screaming out for changes but still neither manager seemed unmoved in terms of making them and as such any action of note was being kept away from the final thirds of the pitch with neither side able to get a stranglehold of the game. Less than a month ago the Swans had scored five at the Liberty against the same opposition, with 62 minutes gone it was starting to look unlikely we would even muster 5 shots in this particular game.
It was Cooper that blinked first in making the change but it was a change forced on him as an injury to Kyle Naughton meant he had to make a change, the change being the introduction of Jordan Morris which in itself forced a change in formation, the right thing to do (the change in formation) but you were left wondering when it would have happened if it hadn’t been forced.
Forest made their changes in the 7th minut with Glenn Murray coming on for Grabham but the urgency in which the Forest man left the pitch seemed to be a perfect summing up of the game to that point – no urgency, no real desire to go anywhere and barely any effort made to leave the pitch.
News was filtering through of Brentford conceding twice in quick succession to be behind at QPR and all of a sudden the door was open for the Swans to really move into pole position for second place. But for whatever reason the urgency that would be needed for that was just never there tonight as the team continued to go about the game in a very pedestrian manner with the chance to break down the Forest defence never a likely scenario given the style of play we had adopted for pretty much most of the game.
With seven minutes left Cooper made another change with Arriola replacing Lowe but again you have to question the timing of this on a night when things are not working, offering up seven minutes to make a difference feels like a waste of a substitute more than anything else?
However, the one thing that you should always expect from a Cooper side is the unexpected and that is just what we got when Connor Roberts grabbed the goal that sealed the game for the Swans. Having offered pretty much nil attacking threat in the first 85 minutes the old cliche of it only takes a second to score a goal came true just a minute later.
In the same way that Roberts did at the City Ground he was first to react to a cross into the area from Bidwell and his header may not have had the height of the last one but he met it powerfully and the back of the net was the result. Pretty much from nowhere the Swans were a goal to the good and surely heading towards three points.
They always say that the sign of a good team is winning games when you don’t play well and this was certainly a case of winning tonight from playing dreadful. With the result at Loftus Road helping us no end, the Swans are closing the gap on Brentford with games in hand and winning very ugly as well.
The main point to take away tonight is the obvious that we took maximum points once again but we need to step up several gears to keep this running. Tonight we got out of jail and the feeling of that is massive!
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