Swansea City had no problems progressing through to the second of Carling Cup this evening as they eased past League 2 side Barnet with a 3-0 win at the Liberty Stadium.
Cedric Van Der Gun opened the scoring in the first half with a neat header from Serran’s cross, before substitute Darren Pratley and Shefki Kuqi extended our lead in the second half.
Swansea City boss Brendan Rodgers was without Ashley Williams, David Cotterill, Shaun MacDonald, Neil Taylor, David Cornell, Jazz Richards, Daniel Alfei as they were all on international duty with Wales, as he made a number of changes to his side. 18 year-old Joe Walsh was given his senior debut at left back, with the rest of the defence unchanged from Saturday.
In midfield, Joe Allen returned from a shoulder injury to start alongside new signing Scott Donnelly and Andrea Orlandi. Kerry Morgan and Cedric Van Der Gun started on the flanks with Shefki Kuqi up front.
Serran – Monk – Tate – Walsh
Morgan – Connelly – Allen – Orlandi – Van Der Gun
Barnet made a much better start to the game than the Swans as their pace going forward caused us problems in a shaky and nervous opening 20 minutes.
Dorus De Vries made some excellent saves to keep the scores level, as we gave the opposition far too much time and space in our own half.
Mark Byrne should have put the visitors in front early on, but he missed a great chance in front of goal after getting beyond captain Garry Monk.
Moments later, De Vries was forced into some great saves as both Ricky Holmes and Glen Poole were able to get into excellent shooting positions from close range.
Alan Tate revealed after the game that Rodgers was disappointing with our first half performance and rightfully so, as we could easily have been 3-0 down and looking embarrassed. Thankfully, De Vries was on top form, and he helped to keep the scores level. After a poor start, we began to gain some confidence and stability in midfield and from then on we dominated the majority of the game.
Joe Allen was superb in the centre of midfield, spraying passes out to the wide and helped to create a lot of our attacking play. Kerry Morgan was lively and liked a long range shot now and again as one of them hit the bar, while new signing Scott Donnelly showed some good touches.
Cedric Van Der Gun also staked his claim for a first team place on Saturday with an excellent performance on the wing. His skill and attacking runs caused problems throughout the game, and he did well to win us a deserved penalty after 18 minutes. Shefki Kuqi stepped up to take the spot-kick but his fierce effort came crashing back off the crossbar and out to safety.
Van Der Gun nearly created a goal after winning a penalty, but he went one better after opening the scoring for us thanks to an excellent pin-point cross from right back Albert Serran. The Spaniard picked out the Dutch winger at the far post and he did well to compose a neat header into the net.
After the goal, the Swans dominated as we shook off our early nerves and went in at half time much the better team, although our poor defensive performance was rather concerning, as a League Two side found it easy to create a number of clear cut chances in the matter of a few minutes.
Swansea City continued to dictate the game in the second half and prevented Barnet from getting back into the First Round tie. Joe Allen continued to impress, and he went close with a 25-yard shot that went just wide.
Cedric Van Der Gun created more problems in the second period as he went close to getting his second of the game. He cut inside from the right flank but his curling effort went just inches past the far post.
Brendan Rodgers then made a double change just after the hour mark as Mark Gower and Darren Pratley came on to replace Scott Donnelly and Joe Allen. It didn’t take long for Pratley to make his mark, as 8 minutes after coming on he doubled our advantage. The midfielder fired in a great shot after an impressive run, before taking off his shirt and raised it up to show the West Stand – what seemed like a clear message stating that he is staying a Jack!
The Swans had a few decent chances before our second goal, but Barnet nearly pulled a goal back for a late comeback as Alan Tate was robbed of possession. Thankfully De Vries was still on form after a quiet second half, as he denied Danny Kelly.
Shefki Kuqi was having a disappointing and frustrating time up front on his own. His first touch was poor and he struggled throughout to provide any useful play up front. Substitute Nathan Dyer created a glorious chance for the Finnish striker, as he cut back a low cross to the big man, but he side-footed wide on 85 minutes. Despite a poor performance, you can admire him at least for maintaining the composure to score our third 3 minutes later. He went through on goal, one-on-one with the goalkeeper and slotted the ball past the keeper and into the bottom corner. There wasn’t an exciting celebration from Kuqi as he knew he had a poor game.
In the end it was a comfortable scoreline for the Swans, but the defensive performance was poor at the start as Barnet’s attacking pace caused a lot of problems particularly for centre backs Garry Monk and Alan Tate.
Positives though were that we scored 3 goals, even though it was against League 2 opposition, 7 other Championship clubs lost tonight to lower league sides. Joe Allen was back, and back to his best, and it was good to see Cedric Van Der Gun performing well. He didn’t particularly impress during the Holland Tour and if he can continue with performances like that he’s a contender for a starting place in the League.
De Vries – 7
Kept us in it early on with a few great saves and dealt with everything comfortably.
Serran – 6
Another ordinary performance and doesn’t offer enough going forward, but he did provide an excellent pin-point cross for Van Der Gun to score, other than that there was little else. A decent defensive performance.
Tate – 6
Mostly solid but a few shaky moments here and there, especially at the start when Barnet were able to have plenty of time and space to create some easy simple chances, thankfully De Vries did well to save them.
Monk – 6
Same as Tate really.
Walsh – 5
The youngster did well but he did look nervous which is what you’d expect. Their winger got passed him quite easily on a few occasions.
Morgan – 6
Looked promising, tried a few long range shots and did well considering he’s till very inexperienced and hasn’t played in the team for a while
Orlandi – 6
Showed some good touches and some neat passing play, but was prone to the odd simple mistake now and again.
Allen – 8
Back to his best quickly after injury, superb in the centre of midfield and it was great to see him back out there.
Van Der Gun – 8
He was quite disappointing in the Holland Tour friendlies, I was hoping he’d prove himself that he can be a first team player. Tonight he did that, worked his socks off and showed tremendous ability to beat a man. Took his goal well with a header at the far post.
Donnelly – 6
Showed promise, his play was maybe a bit patchy in places, and looked quite lightweight, but he looks he can continue to improve and become a good player for us. Another player who’s willing to shoot from range which is what we need.
Kuqi – 4
Despite his goal, he missed a penalty and then another great chance in the second half. A terrible first touch and he did nothing to convince Rodgers that he can be a first team player for us. Very disappointing. I hope he doesn’t become this season’s new scapegoat as he’s a terrific person, who keeps trying and still got a goal, but sadly he does lack the ability for this level.