After a resounding victory over local rivals the Redbirds last weekend, we arrived at the Britannia Stadium with plenty of optimism. However, this was always going to be a tricky game, with Sparky Hughes’ route one merchants Stoke City never an easy proposition, especially away from home.
After a delayed start to the game due to the weather, the Swans started the brightly, showing plenty of energy, with Dyer, Routledge and Hernandez in particular looking sharp. However, this didn’t last as Stoke began to take control with their usual agricultural approach, which was difficult to deal with given the swirling wind.
Charlie Adam shot from outside the box after 9 minutes, but Michel Vorm dived to his right to smother comfortably. Then with 16 minutes on the clock, Cardiff reject Odemwingie drove the ball against the post, but human giraffe Peter Crouch was on hand to put the rebound past Vorm following a touch from Ashley Williams.
Stoke could have had a second on 19 minutes when Arnautovic forced keeper Vorm to tip over the crossbar. However, the Swans started to rally midway through the first half, with Nathan Dyer busy on the right flank and Wilfried Bony holding up the ball well in attack. Wayne Routledge had the ball in the Stoke net, however it was adjusted offside, with the official flagging early.
The first half ended 1-0 to the home side, with the biggest taking point being how Stoke midfielder Charlie Adam was still on the pitch. He kicked out at Wayne Routledge after 15 minutes and then proceeded to boot Nathan Dyer twice in a minute later in the half. This incident led to him being booked but not before Swans’ Captain Ashley Williams received a yellow first for his reaction to Adam’s dirty tactics.
The Swans came straight out of the blocks after the break with Bony striking wide on 46 minutes after good work again by Pablo Hernandez. Then on 51 minutes, we were level. Hernandez was again the danger man, chipping the box into the box for Chico to head home, having stayed up field after a Swansea corner. Up to this point, the home crowd had booed Chico’s every move, so it was particularly pleasing to see the defender score and in doing so, silence the crowd.
Pablo was now running riot, attacking the Stoke defence at every opportunity. However, Stoke probably should have restored their lead after 59 minutes when a Charlie Adam free kick was narrowly missed following a lunge from Ryan Shawcross. This incident was the start of a better spell by Stoke, since up to that point it had been all Swansea and Adam sent another free kick over the bar after 71 minutes following a foul by Leon Britton, which earned him, rather harshly a yellow card.
Dutch international Jonathan De Guzman replaced Hernandez after 74 minutes, following an excellent display by the Spaniard. Bony should have put the Swans ahead on 76 minutes after a great ball from Nathan Dyer. In truth, Big Wilf took too long with the ball at his feet, though Stoke keeper Begovic did take the sting out of the ball, before Shawcross cleared off the line.
De Guzman struck a beauty from 30 yards after 85 minutes, which Begovic parried for a corner. From the resulting spot kick, Williams and Bony could have easily turned the ball home. The home fans were calling for a penalty 3 minutes from time, when Peter Crouch hit the floor, however the replay showed that the referee got it right.
In summary, this was a great point for the Swans against a Stoke side that as always, lacked quality but was very difficult to play against. The home crowd booed us throughout the game, with the occasional chant of Delilah interspersed with shouts of “sheep shaggers”. Very pleasant!
There were impressive performances from a number of Swans players, in particular Chico, Hernandez and Nathan Dyer. Nathan, in particular was kicked and bullied by Stoke, with Charlie Adam the main culprit. A special mention has to go to Chico though, who has really knuckled down since his drama with Andy Carroll at West Ham. There were no dramatics today and he and Ash were excellent against a tough Stoke attack led by former England international Peter Crouch.
The final word has to go to head coach Garry Monk. After a brilliant 3-0 win against Cardiff on Saturday, this was also an impressive and important result against one of our rivals in the Premier League. If he keeps the team playing like this, there will only be one person who deserves the Manager’s job at the Liberty – Ginger Mourinho!!
Again tonight, I liked his approach to the substitutes. He seemed to make the right changes at the right time and as was the case on Saturday, ran the clock down by putting Jordi Amat on for the last few minutes.
The teams and player marks (out of 10):
Swansea City: Vorm 7, Rangel 7, Davies 7, Chico 8, Williams (Captain) 7, Britton 7 (Amat NA), Canas 6, Hernandez 8 (De Guzman 6), Routledge 6, Dyer 8 (Emnes NA), Bony 7. Unused substitutes: Tremmel, Taylor, Alvaro, Ngog.
Swans’ man of the match: Chico, though Nathan Dyer and Pablo Hernandez were also worth a shout.
Stoke City: Begovic 7, Pieters 6, Shawcross 7, Wilson 7, Cameron 6, Whelan 6 (Guidetti 5), Adam 6, Arnautovic 5 (Muniesa 5), Odemwingi 5, Walters 5 (N’Zonzi 6), Crouch 7. Unused substitutes: Sorensen, Palacios, Ireland.
Stoke man of the match: Peter Crouch
Possession stats: Swans 64%, Stoke 36%.
The match referee: Jonathan Moss 7. This was a respectable display by Moss, though he really should have booked the unpleasant Chalie Adam much earlier than he did. Yellow cards were issued to Williams, Adam, Britton and Crouch.
Attendance: 24,822. The Swans fans were loud throughout the game and enjoyed free pies and drinks on a cold and windy night in the Potteries. Lovely!