Joel Piroe scored the only goal of the game as Russell Martin secured his first three points as Swansea manager at Ashton Gate this evening. Piroe striking the crucial goal in the 19th minute after being first to react after his initial shot hit the post.
There were league starts for both Joel Piroe and Ethan Laird after their strong substitute appearances in the midweek home defeat to Stoke.
Russell Martin went into the game in search of a first league win for the Swans and, after that midweek defeat, in need of a performance from his team who had been beaten all to easy by Stoke.
It was a nervy start for the Swans and they could have gone a goal behind very early thanks to hesitation in their area whilst they were grateful for the good work of Steven Benda shortly afterwards to keep the scoreline level.
However, it was not to stay that way for long when Joel Piroe capitalised on Bristol City’s own defensive generosity to give the Swans the lead. As he broke towards their penalty area his shot rebounded back off the post but incredibly the defence remained static leaving the striker the chance to finish first time from the rebound and find the back of the net.
It was a welcome relief for Martin and a third goal of the season for the player signed in the summer before the departure of Steve Cooper. He may have been signed under a previous regime but he is repaying the club’s faith in him and making sure he is playing an important part of the current regime.
It was to be the only goal of the first half with very little goal action beyond that. Bristol City pushed hard as they looked for an equaliser but rarely before the interval were proving to be a challenge for Benda.
The opening stages of the second half followed a slightly different pattern with the Swans clearly content to sit deep on their lead and slow down play where possible to take the sting out of the Bristol City attacks which, as the game ticked past the 70 minute barrier, were left to a couple of shots, one of which tamely found the arms of Benda.
Ethan Laird was keeping up the strong work of his debut on Tuesday night and was a continual willing outlet for the Swans as they slowly started to push forward more with the sense that maybe a second goal was in the offing.
Bristol City did have the ball in the back of the net on 74 minutes but a linesman’s flag spotted one of the easiest offside decisions of any season. Geoff Eltringham was also keeping himself relatively busy with his post match paperwork with a regular flurry of cards in a game that was full of strong challenges but certainly never felt like one that got the card count we were seeing.
Piroe’s night ended early when he was replaced with ten minutes of the game remaining by Jamal Lowe who had been dropped to make way for Piroe in the first place. Matt Grimes came close to doubling the Swans lead with a couple of minutes to go as his stinging shot was parried by the keeper but Lowe was unable to be first to the rebound as the Swans looked to finish the job. Shortly afterwards the Swans captain became the 10th player to receive a yellow card in the game as the fourth official prepared to show the board that dictated there would be five minutes of stoppage time to be played.
Two minutes of those five had passed when the hearts in mouth moment arrived but former Swans loanee Andy King could only direct the chance wide of the goal much to the delight of the 2000+ travelling Jack Army who had been in good voice throughout.
Tonight’s win was a welcome end to a tough week for the Swans and one that was thoroughly deserved on the night. Russell Martin’s decision to start Piroe was well justified and the player rewarded him with the only goal of the game and that will make for a much happier weekend in the Martin household.
Onwards from here
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MATCH FACTS AND LINE UPS
OTHER CHAMPIONSHIP RESULTS
NEXT UP FOR THE SWANS