The Swans and Wycombe Wanderers shared four goals at the Liberty this afternoon as we fought back from being 2-0 down early in the second half to earn a point but it was very much a case of two dropped for the Swans on another disappointing afternoon at the Liberty.
Steve Cooper made just the one change from the side that started on Tuesday with Connor Roberts coming back into the side at the expense of Wayne Routledge and he sent his side out to look for the chance to close the gap more on Watford after a particularly successful week on the road with two wins.
Unfortunately for Cooper he was forced into a second change very early on when top scorer Andre Ayew was forced off in the 7th minute with what seemed initially to be a hamstring injury but as he left the pitch you just got the feeling it was more precautionary than anything – or at least that is what we can hope.
The early stages saw the Swans nicely pressing on the Wycombe defence and Connor Roberts almost opened the scoring in the 13th minute but his shot was well saved by the visiting keeper who pushed it out for a corner. Wycombe for their part were also pushing forward but not troubling Woodman but there was more than one occasion where the Swans defence looked anything but comfortable.
Hourihane had a couple of half chances to give the Swans the lead during the first half but was unable to trouble the keeper he saw one deflected for a corner and the other flash past the post. As the half progressed though the standard of play was dropping and another shot from Roberts, easily held by the keeper, was one of the few incidents of note as neither side were getting a hold of the game.
Within five minutes of the start of the second half though one side had got hold of the game but that was the visitors. Firstly they found themselves a goal up within twenty seconds of the restart with a powerful shot from outside the box by Muskwe beating Woodman with some ease. It was the worst possible start to the second half for the Swans but worse was to follow.
Lowe had seen a shot saved by the keeper’s legs but Wycombe advanced almost immediately to the other end and had a header cleared off the line but from the resulting corner McCleary scored from just inside the area to double the visitors lead and give the Swans the proverbial uphill task of clawing back a two goal deficit.
Cooper’s response was a triple change with Dhanda, Smith and Whittaker introduced at the expense of Fulton, Hourihane and Naughton as he looked to get his side back into a game that had fast ebbed away from them.
The changes were having minimal impact as Wycombe were happy to sit deep and protect a two goal advantage against a team that did not look capable of threatening them. We, unfortunately, had slipped into our old ways (or basically those of just over a week ago) of long aimless balls and a midfield who seemed afraid of the ball and certainly not a team to get stuck in and knuckle down when it mattered.
With 25 minutes to go the Swans almost had a lifeline when Lowe first saw his shot saved and Naughton’s follow up was cleared off the line but by thus point it was outside the normal pattern of the game which had been set by another static Swansea performance.
The Swans were handed a lifeline with ten minutes left to play when Wycombe gifted them a penalty. Lowe had just missed out on connecting with a header from a cross from the Swans right but as Cullen looked to play it back into the area the Wycombe defender stuck out a hand to stop it. Quite how he managed to argue against the decision was beyond me but argue they did and the referee was happy to hand out a couple of cards as a result.
Lowe was the man who kept his cool in the absence of Ayew and he hammered the penalty into the top of the net and the deficit had been halved.
Pretty much from nowhere the Swans were back in the game and two minutes later it was 2-2. Another cross from Roberts from the right hand side was met by a header from Cullen who found the back of the net. In the same way that Wycombe had struck twice in quick succession at the start of the half the Swans had done the same towards the end and suddenly the game was in the balance again.
Wycombe could – and probably – should have restored their lead in the 88th minute when a save from Woodman was met on the rebound but the shot, thankfully for the Swans, went wide of the target when it looked easier to score.
The signal of seven minutes of stoppage time will have gone down significantly differently on different benches but was it to be enough to give the Swans especially with news having filtered through that second place Watford were a goal down at Luton.
The Swans pushed forward but it was all in vain despite a 95th minute penalty appeal which was turned away by referee Keith Stroud but replays clearly showed that the decision would have been harsh on Wycombe and that is very much an understatement.
That was to be the last incident of note as the game finished with the two sides level which will disappoint more on an afternoon when neither Watford or Brentford were also able to win. The league table could have looked considerably different with the right result for the Swans but again we were let down by a poor performance masked by a late comeback.
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