- English Football League - Championship
- Saturday, July 18th 2020
- Liberty Stadium
James Crawley reports from Liberty Stadium
Report: Swansea City 1-0 Bristol City
Saturday, July 18th 2020
City suffered defeat in their final away game of the season, with Connor Roberts’ late first-half strike enough to separate the sides at the Liberty Stadium.
Dean Holden’s men played well for the majority of the first period but faded out towards the end against a tirade of Swansea pressure, which told when Roberts pounced to put the hosts into a half-time lead.
City battled against the Welsh play-off hopefuls and you couldn’t fault the desire and spirit in their fight to get back into the game after the break.
They were offered a lifeline when Famara Diédhiou stepped up for a penalty which he won moments after coming off the bench, but his effort from the spot smacked the post.
It would be the closest they would come to equalising as the Swans held out to take their sixth-spot battle with Cardiff City down to the final day.
Holden named three changes with Ashley Williams returning from suspension to face his former club. Zak Vyner and Benik Afobe were also among the starting XI, with Nathan Baker (groin) missing out and Diédhiou on the nine-man bench. Filip Benković didn’t make the squad after feeling a twinge as a result of his Herculean efforts in the midweek draw with Stoke City.
It was a lively start in South Wales where Swansea were expressing the possession-based game they are well known for. The Robins were showing great work rate though and pressing the men in white at every opportunity.
However, the hosts saw the first sight of goal through Conor Gallagher’s pop-shot. It came following good build-up play by the home side but Dan Bentley watched the ball sail wide of his far post, while Nahki Wells went close at the other end.
That attack started through Williams who drove forward into midfield, picking out Jamie Paterson. The midfielder spotted Jay Dasilva to his left and the young left-back’s chipped cross was glanced wide by the former QPR striker.
Bentley’s fingertips then denied the Swans from taking the lead as Andre Ayew looked to capitalise from a lucky bounce of the ball. Jake Bidwell was set off down the left and he picked out Ayew in the penalty area. As the ball pinged around, City captain Korey Smith and Tomas Kalas battled with the winger but the ball broke kindly for the Swansea man who hooked the ball towards goal only for Bentley to get a faint touch and divert the ball from crossing the white line.
The first drinks break followed but rather than stagnate rhythm, the game would begin to open up even further. Now City were passing the ball around comfortably and when they did lose it, Afobe was alert to win it back. It launched City back on the attack in Swansea’s final third and Wells’ cross found Weimann whose shot was charged down. Afobe was then closed down on the rebound and Swansea survived the carnage.
Matthew Grimes and Ayew both blazed over, while a teasing cross from Bidwell flashed across the six-yard box and somehow managed to avoid any shirt in white as it begged a touch. It was case of déja-vu when Jay Fulton’s cross into the danger area avoided a killer finish from his teammates, and Rhian Brewster fired wide from close-range soon after
But the pressure told moments before the break. Gallagher received the ball outside the area and saw his strike bounce off the post. City didn’t anticipate the ball to rebound back and it was Roberts who capitalised, reacting quickest to drill the ball into the net and gift Swansea the lead.
Pedro Pereira replaced Jack Hunt at the interval and whatever Holden said to his players had them riled up, as City came flying out the traps. Swansea quickly found themselves on the back foot, but City were unable to capitalise on a flurry of half chances, notably Weimann saw an effort blocked before Wells headed off target.
It was the same fate later when Wells reached to meet Weimann’s clipped cross but he couldn’t trouble Erwin Mulder in the Swansea goal.
In an instant, there was nearly trouble for Holden’s group at the other end as Brewster fired a shot on goal but it was battered away by Bentley. Ayew looked to follow up but Tomas Kalas was well placed to block the strike.
It was a let-off just as the Robins looked to get on top and Holden soon looked to his bench to raise the creativity levels, using his second substitution opportunity to introduce Kasey Palmer, Niclas Eliasson and Diédhiou in place of Smith, Dasilva and Williams.
And Diédhiou won a penalty almost immediately. City opted for the short corner following the changes, and Eliasson’s clipped cross looked for the Senegal front man who was hauled down in the box. It was a glorious chance to level from the spot but Diédhiou’s right-footed strike bounced off the post and the forward could only kick the rebound wide.
Bentley would be called into action to deny Swansea from extending their lead, making a comfortable stop from Ayew, while Grimes drove wide via a deflection of a teammate.
City’s final substitution came in the form of Marley Watkins on for Wells to offer fresh legs in attack though it was Pereira who went close with a near-post header which flashed across goal. At the other end, Ayew went close with a near-post effort of his own but Bentley was equal to the effort.
The full-time whistle followed shortly, putting all end to City’s hopes of chasing the last play-off spot ahead of their final outing of the 2019/20 campaign against Preston North End at Ashton Gate on Wednesday (July 22nd, 7.30pm).
- Roberts (47')
- Mike van der Hoorn, Conor Gallagher, Rhian Brewster
- Ashley Williams, Jack Hunt, Korey Smith, Jay Dasilva, Nahki Wells