Swansea City got back to winning ways this afternoon as Scott Sinclair scored a late winner to give us a 1-0 victory against Middlesbrough in front of nearly 15,000 fans at the Liberty Stadium.
Brendan Rodgers was looking for a response following Wednesday’s disappointing defeat against Bristol City, and with the help of Joe Allen and Mark Gower back in central midfield, we dominated the majority of the game and played some attractive attacking football.
Just under 15,000 fans turned up at the Liberty Stadium for the Sunday afternoon kick off and it was the Swans who got off to the better start, as the visitors looked poor in possession and gave the ball away in their own half far too often – which just invited us to attack.
Gower and Allen’s absence from Wednesday night’s match was a big talking point after our worst display of the season, but we looked back to our usual selves today with a promising performance.
With Marvin Emnes returning to today’s opposition, it was Craig Beattie who got the nod ahead of Stephen Dobbie to start up front. In fairness to the Scot, who hadn’t started a game before today since March, worked very hard throughout, battled well for the ball and held it up well.
Rangel – Monk – Williams – Tate
Gower – Pratley – Allen
The Swans didn’t take long to get into their stride and they looked confident early on. Nathan Dyer was a threat from start to finish, his workrate was superb and he was also battling well in defence. We were also working the ball well down the right flank and it was down that side where we create our first good opportunity on goal.
Angel Rangel did well to thread a pass through to Pratley and his low cross saw Sinclair got a slight touch to, but it wasn’t enough as the ball went just past the far post.
Nathan Dyer then forced the goalkeeper into a straightforward save but the build up was excellent. The winger played a nice one-two with Pratley before racing through the middle and firing a shot straight at the visiting keeper.
Middlesbrough’s only effort on goal up until now was a long range effort that went harmlessly over the crossbar.
The visitors created a better chance later on though, but Leroy Lita was offside as he fired a low left-footed strike straight at de Vries who did well to save.
The Middlesbrough goalkeeper was forced into a double save as Scott Sinclair was causing problems with a run down the left wing to the by-line. He cut a pass back to Joe Allen whose close range shot was parried, Rangel fired goalwards from the rebound but the keeper was equal to it again.
Tony Mowbray would have been disappointed with his side’s first half performance. De Vries was mainly a spectator as the visitors just couldn’t link up their passes. They also conceded possession far too often in dangerous areas and the Swans were well on top as the two teams headed to the dressing rooms at half time.
Boro knew they had to come out and show a big improvement if they were going to get anything from the game and that’s what they did. They looked a lot sharper in possession and they didn’t gift us the ball in dangerous areas.
They even created a decent chance just a few minutes after the restart but luckily the defence were able to block a shot after goal-mouth scramble.
The Swans then began to get hold of the ball and get forward as they went in search of an opening goal. Dyer was constantly looking threatening down the right wing but Sinclair was unable to mirror his play on the opposite flank, apart from a few decent runs here and there.
Rodgers then made a change in midfield and looked to add more creativity in the centre. Mark Gower was quite unfortunate to go off as he was replaced by David Cotterill, who produced a rather indifferent display for the remaining 20 minutes or so. He delivered some good crosses into the box for us to attack but now and again he lost possession.
Stephen Dobbie then came on for Craig Beattie before skipper Garry Monk was forced off due to a calf injury and was replaced by Neil Taylor. Dobbie tried his luck from distance, firing a left footed shot just past the left-hand post, and Pratley also headed over from Tate’s cross.
Chances were going begging in front of goal and Middlesbrough were beginning to cause us problems at the other end on the counter attack. They got forward with pace and as we pushed more men forward, the visitors had more pace to create goal opportunities themselves. Thankfully, our defence were able to make the vital tackles and blocks when needed but still, not even a point was safe yet. Leroy Lita headed wide at the far post and he really should have done better having been unmarked.
Rangel then forced the goalkeeper into parrying a strong shot following Cotterill’s corner, and as the clock continued ticking it looked unlikely that we’d find the deserved breakthrough that we were looking for. But then we had Scott Sinclair, and while he wasn’t enjoying one of his best games, he has the quality to make a massive impact and that’s exactly what he did with just 5 minutes remaining. The youngster went on one of his trademark runs inside from the left, and after beating two defenders he fired low, his shot took a slight deflection which beat the keeper at his right-hand post.
Tony Mowbray and his players were evidently very disappointed to concede a late goal as they showed an improvement in the second half and had chances to open the scoring not long before we did. Despite that though, the scoreline could have been 2 or 3-0 by the end though as Boro gifted us possession deep in their own half. The goalkeeper was guilty of a poor kick which fell straight to Dyer, but we were unable to attack quickly enough, while Cotterill delayed a shooting opportunity inside the penalty area.
Swansea: Dorus de Vries; Angel Rangel, Garry Monk (C)(Neil Taylor, 74′), Ashley Williams, Alan Tate; Joe Allen,Mark Gower (David Cotterill, 62′), Darren Pratley, Nathan Dyer, Scott Sinclair; Craig Beattie (Stephen Dobbie, 72′).
Not Used: Yves Makabu-Makalambay (GK), Neil Taylor,Jazz Richards, Kemy Agustien, Andrea Orlandi.
Middlesbrough: Jason Steele, Tony McMahon, David Wheater, Matthew Bates, Joe Bennett, Kevin Thomson (Nicky Bailey, 22′), Gary O’Neil (C), Barry Robson (Julio Arca, 62′), Justin Hoyte (Kris Boyd, 87′), Leroy Lita, Scott McDonald.
Not Used: Connor Ripley (GK), Seb Hines, Tarmo Kink, Mickael Tavares.
Attendance: 14,906 Away: 301
Referee: K D Hill (Hertfordshire)