Swansea City will play Championship football again next season after they were beaten at Wembley this afternoon by Brentford who return to the top flight after a 74-year absence and finally end their play off hoodoo.
It was a disappointing afternoon for the Swans who were 2 down after 20 minutes and ended with 10 men after the sending off of Jay Fulton and in truth came up well short on such a big day.
In truth today we were second best in every department from the first minute to the last. Brentford wanted it more, they had more ideas than us, they had more attacking intent and their manager won the battle of the coaches. By some distance. It would be impossible to argue otherwise.
Maybe it could have turned had Ayew not spurned the Swans only real chance of the game early in the second half but I think even that would have just given us false hope that Brentford would freeze again but today was (sorry to use the phrase) their day.
You have to question the plan to go back to using wing backs when we have come through the last few weeks without them but it wasn’t the selection that made the difference it was a poor Swansea performance, one that has always been liable to happen – and has happened several times – over the course of the second half of the season.
It started badly when Grimes was booked early for a poor foul and it got worse a few minutes later when Woodman conceded a penalty and Toney was the coolest man inside Wembley as he struck a perfect penalty into the bottom left hand corner of the goal as he looked at it. It was the start that we dreaded and the one that Brentford dreamed of as Toney celebrated in front of the Swans fans just to rub it in a little more.
If that was bad, the manner of the second goal was worse. And in fairness we had a warning that this was possible last week. It was almost a carbon copy of the goal that Barnsley scored at the Liberty as a Swans attack was broken down and Brentford broke quickly two on two. They are too good to give that advantage to and as the ball was squared a perfect low cross doubled the lead and felt even at that stage as if the game was already beyond us.
Toney could have scored a spectacular third just a minute later but a desperate Woodman was relieved to see the ball come back off the bar to keep the scoreline at two but the Swans went through the half without threatening the Brentford goal and on an occasion like this, that is simply unacceptable.
Cooper was tasked with his biggest half time team talk to date and it could – as mentioned before – been so much different had Ayew scored early in the second half but the Swans leading scorer failed to convert a superb chance and any chance of Brentford’s nerves taking over had passed.
From that point we never threatened. We huffed and we puffed a bit and we passed it around but the truth was this was Brentford giving us some midfield space to do just that knowing that we had nothing to threaten up front. Ayew and Lowe were – for the most part – passengers in the game but the service they were delivered was next to nothing. Hourihane was replaced by Dhanda, Naughton by Cullen but it was to little avail and the game ended as a contest when Fulton was shown a straight red card with twenty five minutes to go. He can have little complaints about the decision although it was a result of a slip rather than malice on his behalf although you could sense frustration within the Swans camp for the theatrics of almost every Brentford player under challenge.
The game petered into nothing more than an exhibition and it was always Brentford who looked more likely to be scoring a third goal if one was forthcoming and by the time the whistle sounded after 6 minutes of stoppage time a decent proportion of the Jack Army was already starting their journey home. In fairness, at least they turned up in the first place, the same could not be said for some of our players.
And so – for the second season running – we ended our campaign with a play off defeat to Brentford. In truth we probably were always going to lose this game and today’s performance nicely sums up how the season went from the moment we beat Norwich at the Liberty. All too often we were toothless when it mattered, today we did it on the biggest stage we had this season.
Beaten by a better side. A very disappointing day out.
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