Swansea City returned to winning ways at Millwall this lunchtime as a goal from Andre Ayew and two from Jamal Lowe gave us a much needed three points, kept alive the faint hopes of automatic promotion but more importantly gave us belief for the weeks and games to come.
After four defeats on the bounce and the chances of automatic just about everything bar mathematically gone the hope today was that the Swans could put in a performance as much as gain a result which would ease the increasing nerves that are starting to suggest we could easily miss out on the play offs.
It was time for changes again as you would expect from a manager trying to halt a losing streak with Roberts out and Routledge in being one of the changes made ahead of the game as he tried to shake things up a little.
The home side started the strongest and had some early pressure on the Swans goal without ever fully threatening to break the deadlock with chances going just wide on two very early occasions with Woodman beaten but thankfully for the Swans keeping his goal intact thanks to the inaccuracy.
As the half developed the Swans came into the game more but again we lacked a lot of ability to penetrate the home defence with Lowe having the best chances initially – both on target although one would have been ruled out for offside had it beaten the keeper.
There was little doubt that this was a better Swans performance despite their blanks in front of goal and finally we found the back of the net on the stroke of half time. Hourihane’s pass found Ayew on the right hand edge of the area and he stepped inside the defender and hit a powerful curling shot into the back of the net to finally put a number next to our name after almost 500 minutes of goal free football from the Swans perspective.
Ayew’s celebration was as interesting as the goal itself as he ran directly for his manager and the two embraced which certainly suggests the support for the manager is as strong within the squad as it has ever been. A goal just before the interval probably could not have been better timed from the Swans perspective.
The Swans could have found themselves pegged back immediately in the second half though as a Millwall attack saw a headed chance evade Woodman but bounce back off the inside of the post to retain our lead and no doubt create as big a sigh of relief on the Swans bench as the cheer when Ayew’s goal went in the other side of the break.
What is clear though is that the breaking of the goal duck injected some much needed confidence back into the side and we dominated the first twenty minutes or so of the second half and can probably count ourselves unlucky not to extend our lead. Going from a side that was seemingly shot shy it seemed as if we were making up for it in this period with a mixture of good attacks and attempts on goal but the score remained at just 1-0.
That all changed in the 75th minute in the most emphatic fashion. A superb ball from Routledge found Lowe running onto the ball. For a striker who has not scored for the Swans since January he had plenty to do but he did it so well as he controlled, moved inside onto his stronger foot and unleashed an unstoppable ball past the keeper to double the Swans advantage. The goal was as brilliant as it was welcome and the three points appeared to be in the bag.
The Swans were grateful to Freddie Woodman for keeping it at 2-0 when he tipped a stinging shot over the bar but just a minute later the game was over as a contest as the Swans scored again. Good work from Ayew on the left hand side found Lowe in the middle. If Lowe’s first was good, his second was brilliant as he pulled the ball back with his first touch and finished with ease with his second. This just serves to highlight a confidence player who has just released his shackles and that could just prove to be a massive difference in the weeks to come.
The call today was very much for a performance as much as a result and thankfully for us as fans we got both. Three points were welcomed, three goals were very welcomed but the level of the performance was a total added bonus and we should take great heart and confidence from this. It may just be too late now to push on for the top two given the lead that Watford have built up but what it will do is give us great heart for the remaining six games and hopefully into the play offs which we took a massive step towards today.
As much as the criticism has been due in recent weeks, the praise today must all go to Steve Cooper and his side and it feels much better right now and roll on Tuesday night and our game in hand – can we put some additional pressure on Watford and see how they react?
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MATCH FACTS AND LINE UPS
OTHER CHAMPIONSHIP RESULTS
NEXT UP FOR THE SWANS