Swansea City’s 11-match unbeaten run came to an end yesterday as Paulo Sousa’s side were convincingly beaten inside of the first 30 minutes.
Harewood grabbed a brace and Lovenkrands also got on the scoresheet as Chris Hughton’s side did the damage early on.
Ashley Williams insisted before the match that the occasion wouldn’t get to them, but that’s exactly what happened – it was the biggest match for the club in recent memory, more than 40,000 fans at St James’ Park and we were playing the Table toppers who had just suffered relegation from the Premiership.
What was also disappointing is that all three goals we conceded were headers, 2 of them finished off from left-flank crosses. Right back Angel Rangel had a torrid time, he was beaten regularly down the wing which led to their winger’s constant freedom to deliver dangerous crosses into the box.
Sousa named an unchanged side to the one that beat Derby last Friday:
Rangel – Williams – Tate – Bessone
Dyer – Pratley – Britton – Orlandi – Van Der Gun
The deadlock was broken after just 8 minutes. Newcastle played a corner to the feet of Alan Smith, he sent a cross into the box and the former West Ham striker was unmarked to nod home the opener.
Angel Rangel would have liked to have seen the back of Jonas Gutierrez after the match, he saw it enough times during the game though as he sped past the Spaniard. The Argentine winger, who cost Newcastle United £5m in July 2008, sent in the cross from the left, and this time Lovenkrands was there to nod home from similar range.
Lovenkrands was then provider for the third on 28 yards as Harewood again found the net from his cross.
It was the worst possible start for the Swans but they showed great effort and resilience to try and get back into the game and avoid the scoreline becoming an embarrassment. It wasn’t by full time, as the Swans had enough chances to close the gap.
Andrea Orlandi went close with a long range effort which forced Harper in goal to make a superb save to push it around the post for a corner. Van Der Gun also forced him into another excellent save as we ended the opening half with a good spell of possession.
Sousa’s side came out for the second half and they dominated large periods of the game and began creating chances. Looking at the stats after the game, you’d never think we were beaten by 3 goals to nil, we had the more chances, corners and possession but it means nothing when you have no goals to show for it.
The Swansea manager made two changes early on. It was surprising to see Craig Beattie go off for Gorka Pintado. New loan signing David Cotterill was given his chance to impress as he replaced Cedric Van Der Gun.
The Welshman didn’t take long to make an impact as he nearly scored just moments after coming on. Nathan Dyer picked out the Sheffield United youngster, his shot beat the keeper but it was cleared off the line by a defender.
Substitute Nile Ranger had the best chances for the home side to increase their advantage but he simply couldn’t find the target, firstly heading over the bar.
Angel Rangel tried to respond after a poor first half show as he connected with Britton pass to fire at goal, sub keeper Krul made a great stop and Dyer’s follow up was blocked.
Hughton’s side went close to getting an underserved 4th as Lovenkrands counter-attacked down the right before finding Alan Smith, but the former Manchester United player was denied thanks to great save from Dorus De Vries.
It was convincing win for the League leaders but the Swans showed plenty of promise after a nightmare half hour. After weathering the storm early on, Sousa’s side were able to implement their typical passing game and we dominated large periods of the match, but our finishing yet again let us down. This is something that needs to improve and hopefully we’ll strengthen this particular area in January to boost our play-off hopes.