Swansea City had stand-in captain Alan Tate to thank this afternoon after heading home a late equaliser deep into injury time to rescue a point against Watford at the Liberty Stadium.
Lee Trundle came on as a late substitute to make his return and Craig Beattie also made his debut following his permanent move from West Brom.
Paulo Sousa was forced into making a number of changes today following Tuesday’s Carling Cup against Scunthorpe. Suspended defenders Garry Monk and Angel Rangel were replaced by Matty Collins and Marcos Painter, and in midfield Mark Gower and Jordi Lopez returned to the starting line-up. Up front new record signing Craig Beattie made his debut.
Collins – Williams – Tate – Painter
Dyer – Britton – Lopez – Orlandi – Gower
The Swans got off to a promising start, they dominated the opening 20 minutes and things were looking promising for Sousa’s side to build on last week’s victory away at Coventry City.
Mark Gower went closest to opening the scoring after a good attack down the right wing, Collins picked out Gower but his shot hit the bar.
The early momentum soon disappeared though as little started creaping into our play.Watford had a few chances on goal as they tested De Vries a few times and for the remaining 20 minutes we found it difficult to create chances. The Dutch keeper had a punch away a powerful strike from Sordell before making a comfortable save from Jenkins’ effort from moments later.
Graham also had a shot saved just on the stroke of half time as Watford ended the half the better of the two sides.
The visitors started the second half like they ended the first and they had a chance to open the deadlock within the first two minutes, but Sordell was unable to find the net after a scramble in the box.
Andrea Orlandi had our best chance on 52 minutes, Mark Gower cut the ball back to the Spaniard but his effort on goal was deflected over the bar and out for a corner kick.
It was the Hornets who broke the deadlock though as the referee gave them a controversial free kick in a decent position outside the penalty area. The Swans didn’t pick up Graham on the edge of the wall, the ball was played forward and he fired the ball home to give them a 1-goal lead. Ashley Williams slid in to make a challenge and he won the ball, but the referee thought otherwise, must to the anger of the 13,600 Swans fans.
Swansea City continued to dominate possession in the second half but we were finding it difficult to create clear chances on goal. Watford defended their 1-goal advantage in numbers deep in their own half and by this point you felt we needed to make a change or do something from a set piece to put the scores level.
The Jack Army called out for Lee Trundle to come on and he eventually did with around 20 minutes. Leon Britton was unlucky to go off for the popular scouser but we needed a more attacking force in the middle. The fans’ favourite had little time to make an impact on the game but he linked pretty well with midfield and he had the perfect opportunity to score on his return to the Liberty Stadium. Gower’s cross was touched onto Trundle by Beattie and he was in a superb position to score, but somehow he headered past the post, as he held his face in disbelief.
Sousa also used up all three of his substitutes by the end as Andrea Orlandi was the next player who was unfortunate to go off. He had a decent game in the centre of midfield but he was replaced by Austrian Besian Idrizaj, Kerry Morgan also came to replace Nathan Dyer.
The goal never looked like coming but it did with just a minute remaining in injury time. Mark Gower sent an outswinging cross in from the right and captain Alan Tate rose high to powerfully head home into the top corner.
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Paulo Sousa’s Match Reaction
De Vries – 7
Made some comfortable saves, didn’t have any troubles with crosses. Didn’t have a great view of the goal, but I don’t think he could have kept it out.
Collins – 3
An awful performance, conceded possession far too often, has no awareness, can’t read the game well enough, can’t cross and got the basics wrong far too often. He’s nowhere near good enough.
Tate – 8
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Williams – 7
He had a comfortable and a solid partnership with Tate and was unlucky to concede the free-kick that led to Watford’s goal.
Painter – 7
It was excellent to see Painter return from a long term injury and he’s back and playing very well. He’s solid defensively and he’s shown extra ability in going forward on the attack.
Dyer – 6
Dyer had an off day, didn’t cause any threat down the right wing and struggled to beat the full back, but the effort was there as usual.
Britton – 7
A decent performance from the dependable Leon but nothing special to help us on the attack.
Lopez – 7
Improved as the game went on. Decent in possession and helped get the ball out wide in the second half.
Orlandi – 8
I’ve seen mixed opinions on Orlandi’s performance today, but I thought he played his best game for us in the two years he’s been here. Sousa seemed pleased with him on the touch-line, applauding some skilful touches whilst in possession. He looked more willing to get stuck in and his passing was accurate and consistent.
Gower – 6
Offered little but had a great chance in the first half but his volley hit the bar, delivered the cross for Tate’s equaliser. Struggled to beat the full back though and he gave the left back an easier game than he should have had.
Beattie – 6
The midfield didn’t get him involved in the game hardly and we couldn’t create any clear opportunities for him to score. Sousa was calling for him to make some forward runs in the first half but he wasn’t doing so. He had some good moments here and there but it’s going to take a bit of time for him to gel with the team.