Swansea’s promotion hopes took a big blow this evening as they were beaten at the Vitality Stadium by a Bournemouth side who scored twice in the first half. Once again though it was a performance from the Swans that left a lot to be desired with many of our weaknesses on show this evening.
Steve Cooper made one change from the weekend line up against Luton with Jamal Lowe coming back into the starting line up at the expense of Yan Dhanda whop dropped to the bench whilst the home side made four changes from the side that was beaten at home by Barnsley at the weekend.
Before kick off news was already filtering through of both Watford and Brentford winning comfortably away from home which was only serving to keep the pressure on the Swans in what has fast turned into a compelling promotion battle between three quality sides.
That pressure intensified inside ten minutes when Bournemouth’s early pressure paid off with a spectacular finish from Billing. A cross from Bournemouth’s left looked as if it was slightly behind Billing but, given the fact he was unmarked, he reached backwards and connected with a power that simply gave Woodman no chance and Bournemouth were ahead.
The Swans spent most of the opening 15 minutes of the game on the back foot not necessarily inviting Bournemouth onto them but certainly a case of having to defend more than we would have liked and it was screaming out for a period of us getting hold of the ball and passing it about between us to try and take the sting out of the positivity that the opening goal had given our hosts.
That was just what we started to do around the 20 minute mark as we started to push up slightly more and some neat passing and balls into the box started to ask questions of the Bournemouth defence and whilst the keeper wasn’t necessarily under pressure heavily the balance of play felt as if it was tipping towards the Swans as we went in search of an equaliser.
In fairness to the Swans there were some good passing moves in the first half but it was telling that more than 40 minutes had passed on the clock before our first shot of the game – a shot from Roberts that was deflected well over the bar for a corner.
The Swans were dealt a massive blow in first half stoppage time when Bournemouth doubled their lead. A corner on the left was met by the head of Solanke. The header was heading nowhere near the goal until it hit Latibeaudiere on the back and deflected into the net to completely change the structure of both half time team talks.
Steve Cooper made one change at half time by replacing Latibeaudiere with Morgan Whittaker as he attempted to try and get his side back into the game and certainly one that was forced upon him by the unfortunate nature of the second goal just before the interval.
The Swans were grateful to Freddie Woodman early in the second half for tipping over Carter-Vickers header as we struggled to get really into the game with plenty of possession but not any decent penetration to get at the Bournemouth defence and Begovic was having a comfortable night in the home side’s goal as the game progressed towards the hour mark.
Match stats often tell you the story of a game and when Sky flashed up the “on target” stats just past the hour and the Swans’ tally was nil it told its own story. That is a damming enough statistic in a game that is 0-0 but when you are 2-0 down it shows all the frailties of a side that just is no longer creating meaningful chances in games.
Morgan Whittaker though was intending to change that and a great effort from outside the box was well saved by Begovic but it is only right here to point out that Whittaker had attempted more in his 20 minutes to this point than most of the Swans forward line has done in the past three or four games. Given our lack of prowess in front of goal you do have to suggest that Whittaker should be strongly considered for a start on Saturday in a bid to inject something different into the side.
A quick throw in from Lowe saw Manning cross into the box and Whittaker forced another save from Begovic on 75 minutes but the chances for the Swans were few and far between and certainly no periods of sustained pressure were being put on a Bournemouth defence that has proved in recent weeks to be shaky. This has to be a real frustration at the moment for any fan watching to know that we have a real chance to push on and secure promotion but we just do not seem to be able to cause any concerns for a sustained period on defences which is where both Watford and Brentford show that they are stronger than us.
You also get the feeling watching games where we are behind that we show no urgency to even try and get back into the game. Watching the substitutions they looked relaxed and as non-urgent as they would be if we held a two goal advantage. For me at the moment it looks as simple as if the team has run out of steam, something that we can only hope that the international break can cure but we really do need a win on Saturday now or we could go into that game having lost touch with the top two.
It was probably therefore no surprise that the third goal arrived with three minutes to go. Swansea’s defence was on the retreat and as it broke to Danjuma he hammered the ball past Woodman to finish the game with some style.
The worrying signs have been there for several weeks now and a third defeat in nine games should have alarm bells ringing loud and clear at the Liberty tomorrow morning. We have come through that rough patch with a decent return of points but the performances really are not good enough at the moment and it is a case that we have to step up massively in terms of performance if we are going to avoid the play offs.
We are capable of doing that but it will need a change of mindset, some fresh legs and a boost of confidence which seems slowly to be draining from the players.
Another bad night both for our promotion hopes and our goal difference, can we step up on Saturday? I guess only time will tell.
RATE THE PLAYERS
MATCH FACTS AND LINE UPS
OTHER CHAMPIONSHIP RESULTS
NEXT UP FOR THE SWANS