Date: 6th August 2011 at 7:35pm
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Danny Graham scored his first goal for Swansea City this afternoon to give Brendan Rodgers’ side a 1-0 win against Real Betis in today’s friendly at the Liberty Stadium.

The victory caps off a good week for the Swans following Wednesday’s 2-0 win against Scottish Premier League outfit Celtic.

Brendan Rodgers said that things are going ‘perfectly’ as the squad continues their preparation for the opening game at Manchester City, and he would have been pleased again with some excellent football on display today against La Liga side Real Betis.

Betis had recently put 8 goals past Neath, who incidentally beat us 1-0 in a friendly last month, so they weren’t going to be easy to beat.

There were just two changes to the team that beat Celtic 2-0. Stephen Dobbie started in his usual attacking central midfield role – replacing Joe Allen while Neil Taylor came in to replace loanee Steven Caulker who was missing from the squad having picked up a knock during Wednesday’s game.

New signing Wayne Routledge was on the bench, so too was Leroy Lita and trialist goalkeeper Gerhard Tremmel.

Betis looked strong early on after Swansea’s kick off, with their number 11 left winger particularly causing problems – giving Angel Rangel plenty to think about.

Stephen Dobbie helped to create the first opening for the Swans within the first two minutes, spraying the ball out wide to Sinclair who cut inside and his low shot was saved as we won our first corner.

Jose Moreira was also tested frequency at the opposite end and his lack of ability in holding onto shots was becoming a concern as the crowd looked on. The former Benfica stopper almost watched a shot go underneath and into the net, but he was quick enough to stop the ball on the line. Having said that, he was often alert to make some decent saves, but he could only parry them and we were fortunate Betis didn’t have good opportunities to score from the rebound.

Ashley Williams and Alan Tate looked strong and confident as a central defensive partnership with Garry Monk and Spurs loanee Steven Caulker missing.

Nathan Dyer was having another typically impressive performance down the right wing. He linked up brilliantly with Angel Rangel – who must have wished he was an attacking winger today thanks to the pace of the Betis’s number 11. Rangel picked out Dobbie in the centre with a cross, but his first-time effort flew just wide of the target.

Chances were being created at both ends and the Swans almost got themselves into big trouble because of their reluctance to clear – always preferring to find a short pass. Betis pressed well and they won the ball in Swansea’s half too many times. That’ll be something we’ll have to address when we’re playing against top sides in the Premier League.

Leon Britton and Kemy Agustien in central midfield didn’t look too convincing. There was little attacking play from them and not enough ball-winning to make up for it. Britton seemed easily pushed off the ball and looked quite hurt at one stage, while Agustien was finding the opposition’s players’ ankles rather than the ball. It seems likes he’s a bit hot-headed and he’s certainly not afraid to get stuck in. He was more settled in the second half but he’ll need to show improvement to nail down a regular place in the midfield.

The two sides ended the half goalless but there was enough goal-mouth action to keep both goalkeepers busy and to prevent some fans from falling asleep at a quiet Liberty Stadium.

The start of the second half saw Brendan Rodgers make three changes which saw the arrival of new signing Wayne Routledge. He replaced Dobbie – who had an excellent first half. Joe Allen came on for Leon Britton while Moreira made way for trialist Tremmel.

Tremmel wasn’t forced into making too many difficult saves, but unlike Moreira, he managed to hold onto the shots aimed at him, plus he looked more composed on the ball.

Routledge showed some impressive touches, one of which was sublime to turn to move inside away from his marker. Leroy Lita also came on and was quite lively and if he can time his runs better, he’ll be running onto some through balls and be in on goal quite often this season.

The Swans had more control of possession now as they looked for an opening goal to delight the Jackarmy faithful.

Dyer and Rangel linked up well which led to Graham’s first goal since joining the club in June. Rangel’s cross found the Scottish striker, and he turned well before delivering a finish of Premiership quality, chipping the ball over the oncoming goalkeeper to break the deadlock.

It was another promising display for the Swans, another win and another clean sheet which is sure to boost our confidence ahead of the new Premier League campaign.

There were obviously a few poor passes here and there and attacking play that just didn’t link up well but the squad will have another week’s training to improve before travelling to Manchester City on August 15th.

Danny Graham didn’t do a great deal of work and didn’t put himself about quite like he did against the Swans last season for Watford, but he scored a goal which must have done his confidence some good.

Swansea: Jose Moreira (Gerhard Tremmel, ht), Angel Rangel (Daniel Alfei, 90+1), Alan Tate (capt), Ashley Williams, Neil Taylor, Leon Britton (Joe Allen, ht), Kemy Agustien (Andrea Orlandi, 86), Stephen Dobbie (Wayne Routledge, ht), Nathan Dyer (Mark Gower, 71), Scott Sinclair (Luke Moore, 71), Danny Graham (Leroy Lita, 71).

Real Betis: Casto, Chica, Mario, Dorado (Amaya, 73), Nacho (Valdillo, 90), Iriney (Pozuelo, 75), Benat (Pereira, 69), Sergio (Matilla, 65), Jefferson (Juanma, 90), Castro (Alex Martinez, 90), Molina (Canas, 69).

Unused subs: Inaki Goitia, Isidoro, Arzu, Juanito Calahorro.

Referee: Huw Jones (Oswestry).


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