In a game that should have been wrapped up by half time, the Swans crashed and burned against fellow strugglers West Bromwich Albion at the Liberty Stadium, leaving us perilously close to the relegation drop zone in the Barclays Premier League.
The Swans came into the game missing talisman defender Chico Flores following his sending off against Crystal Palace, as well as Jonjo Shelvey and Nathan Dyer through injury. There was, however a welcome return to the match day squad for last season’s top scorer Michu, who was available for the first time since December. Fellow Spaniard Pablo Hernandez joined him on the bench.
West Brom arrived at the Liberty Stadium still searching for their first win under former Real Betis boss Pepe Mel, who after 7 games in charge and with only 1 win in 18 games saw his side sitting just 1 place above the drop zone, courtesy of a superior goal difference to our neighbours the Redbirds. On paper then, this looked like a game that should have resulted in a comfortable home win.
In fact the game started brightly at a sun drenched Liberty Stadium, when the Swans took the lead with just 2 minutes on the clock. Striker Wilfried Bony slid the ball through to wide man Roland Lamah on the left flank. Lamah raced forwards, skipping past Albion’s Irish international full back Stephen Reid, before curling the ball into the corner of the net from the edge of the 6 yard box, with England international keeper Ben Foster well beaten. Lamah, who was a surprise starter in this game raced to the home dugout to celebrate with the ecstatic Swans’ bench. What a start.
West Brom’s only effort of note in the first half came when powerful striker Victor Anichebe hit a shot straight at Swans keeper Michel Vorm. Anichebe is a big lad (I thought Bayo was back in town!), but he was well marshalled by Jordi Amat and Ashley Williams throughout the afternoon.
Swansea looked comfortable in possession, albeit a bit ragged at times and regularly released wingers Wayne Routledge and Roland Lamah down the flanks as they attempted to get in behind the Baggies’ back five and add a second goal. In fact, Routledge and Lamah whipped in crosses at every opportunity as Pepe Mel’s side found it difficult to get into the game.
The Swans should have had at least a couple more goals by half time, with Wilfried Bony in particular coming close when he connected with Roland Lamah’s low curling cross just six yards out but could only direct it straight at Baggies keeper Ben Foster, who saved well. From a corner on the right hand side, Captain Ashley Williams also saw his downward header bounce narrowly over the bar, when the goal beckoned.
After the break, for some inexplicable reason, the Swans just switched off. Yes, we were tired against Crystal Palace in the second half a fortnight ago after an arduous run of fixtures against the likes of Napoli and Liverpool, but today there should have been no excuse. West Brom pressed higher up the pitch and showed more attacking intent, but the Swans also invited them to come forwards and grasp hold of the game.
It was not long before the away side were level. Midfielder James Morrison laid the ball to striker Sessegnon outside the Swansea area and the 29-year-old hit a powerful low drive into the bottom corner of Michel Vorm’s net. From my seat on the half way line of the East stand, it looked like Dutch international Vorm could perhaps have done better, but the Swans midfield made it far too easy for Sessegnon to get hold of the ball and have time to shoot.
The Swans almost hit back straight away through a Jonathan de Guzman free-kick which forced a diving save from of Foster, though in truth the save was one for the cameras from a keeper who impressed all afternoon.
The lacklustre Swans continued to huff and puff, while the Baggies, backed by 2,000 travelling fans continued to press. With the game seemingly heading for a draw, the ball broke to Mulumbu on the edge of the Swansea area with 85 minutes gone. The Congolese midfielder struck his shot, which hit a post, before nestling in Michel Vorm’s net to give his side just `their second away win of the season.
In summary, the players let both Manager Garry Monk and themselves down today. What should have been a resounding victory against one of our rivals resulted in a dire second half performance and defeat against a side that themselves lacked quality.
There were one or two decent showings, notably from the ever reliable Leon Britton and wing man Wayne Routledge. In addition, Roland Lamah deserves praise for his early goal, although he faded after the break as is often the case. For some reason, Big Wilf Bony looked jaded today, however in mitigation he was up against a 5 man Albion defence and did not have Pablo Hernandez available to drag the opposition defenders out of position.
No doubt Planet Swans, SCFC.co.uk and Twitter will go berserk after this one and yes I can understand why. However, remember where we were 10 years ago. Let’s back Garry Monk and keeping fighting. Up the Swans!
The teams and player marks (out of 10):
Swansea City: Vorm 5, Rangel 5, Davies 5, Amat 6, Williams (Captain) 6, Britton 7 (Emnes NA), Canas 5 (Michu 5), De Guzman 5, Lamah 6 (Hernandez 5), Routledge 7, Bony 5. Unused substitutes: Tremmel, Taylor, Tiendalli, Lita.
Swans’ man of the match: Leon Britton
West Brom: Foster 8, Reid 6, Ridgewell 5, Dawson 6, McAuley 6, Olsson 5, Mulumbu 6, Dorrans 5 (Gera 6), Morrison 6, Sessegnon 6 (Bifouma 6), Anichebe 6 (O’Neil NA). Unused substitutes: Myhill, Sinclair, Berahino, Vydra
West Brom man of the match: Ben Foster
Scorers: Sessegnon, Mulumbu
Possession stats: Swans 63%, West Brom 37%. With possession stats like that, a defeat at home was not good enough.
The match referee: Martin Atkinson 5. Atkinson came into the game with stats of 225 Premier League games, 42 red cards and 690 yellows. In a fussy and inconsistent performance from Atkinson as ever, he handed out 4 yellow cards to Routledge, Reid, Olsson and Anichebe, although it felt like a lot more!?