Swansea legend Garry Monk enjoyed derby day success is his first game in the hot seat, after a crazy week at the Liberty Stadium. Coming into this game, we sat in 12th place in the Premier League with 24 points. In contrast, the enemy were 19th with 21 points. The respective goal differences made interesting reading, ours being minus 6 against theirs of minus 22. As usual, the heavily Cardiff influenced Welsh press made irritating reading with the likes of Jason Perry (hence the name check above) and Steve Tucker proclaiming world domination for the Redbirds, while only the totally impartial Leighton James gave the Swans any chance!
The Swans started the game brightly, showing plenty of urgency. In fact, Wilfried Bony had a huge shout for a penalty after just 3 minutes when he was challenged by goalkeeper Marshall, after a great through ball by Jonathon De Guzman. However, the replay showed that referee Andre Mariner got it about right.
Both Wayne Routledge And Nathan Dyer in particular looked dangerous in the early parts of the first half and attacked the Cardiff full backs with ease. New boy Marvin Emnes also looked threatening and was a constant irritation to the Redbird rear guard alongside the ever reliable Wilfried Bony.
The Swans had chances to score, when first wide man Routledge shot straight at David Marshall and Wilfried Bony made the keeper save at his feet. However, despite limited possession, the visitors also enjoyed opportunities to take the lead in the first half, with Kenwyne Jones in particular heading wide and Peter Whittingham fizzing a low shot from distance, which goalkeeper Michel Vorm did well to smother on a wet Liberty pitch.
It was all square at half time, but not for long. Substitute Pablo Hernandez, who replaced Emnes at the break played Routledge in on the left flank with a defence splitting ball which left the hapless Fabio in no man’s land. The winger accepted the pass in his stride and stroked a low shot into the right corner with ease on 47 minutes. By all accounts Emnes left the action with a slightly sore hamstring, however it was clear that Hernandez offered the Swans something different with his pace and inter play.
The visitors looked to hit back straight away when Bellamy on 51 minutes struck a shot against the top of the Swansea bar from the edge of the area after cutting in from the right, however this was more or less Cardiff’s only decent chance of the half as Swans’ boss Garry Monk, dressed in a tracksuit rather than a fancy suit, encouraged his troops from the side lines.
And it was not long before he was punching the air in delight again as the Swans scored twice in six minutes through headers from Nathan Dyer and Wilfried Bony. First, on 79 minutes, Wayne Routledge broke on the left hand side and hit a deep cross to the far post for the diminutive Dyer, who finished with a diving header from just 6 yards. Then Wilfried Bony out jumped the static Ben Turner to power home on 85 minutes after a superb ball from Hernandez into the top corner, with Marshall left helpless.
In summary, what a performance from the Swans on a night when the rain poured down for 90 minutes but our spirit was never dampened! There were a number of important differences today compared to recent games. First, our passing was much quicker and we closed Cardiff down at every opportunity rather than sitting off them and giving them time to play. We also played with proper wingers, hugging the touchline, which gave the midfield more time and space to play. Emnes and Hernandez seemed to thrive with the room they were allowed in the number 10 position and I think Michu will really enjoy himself when he returns from injury.
A mention must also go to our defence today. Despite a couple of shaky moments in the first half, there were some solid showings, including from the crazy Spaniard Chico Flores. I have been critical of Chico for a number of weeks, but today he was much better, playing with more purpose and responsibility. It was great to see Michel Vorm back and you could hear him marshalling and organising the Swansea back line along with Captain Ashley Williams, which has clearly very important.
Finally, boss Garry Monk and number 2 Alan Curtis have to take a massive amount of credit for this result and performance. Taking over the reins at such a critical stage of the season and in the run in to the local derby, things could have gone badly wrong today. However, the team selection, set up and tactics were spot on. Well done to both of you, you are Jack army legends.
The teams and player marks (out of 10):
Swansea City: Vorm 7, Rangel 9, Davies 7, Chico 8, Williams (Captain) 8, Britton 9, De Guzman 7 (Canas 6), Emnes 7 (Hernandez 8), Routledge 8, Dyer 9 (Taylor NA) Bony 8. Unused substitutes: Cornell, Amat, Lamah, Ngog.
Swans’ man of the match: Nathan Dyer
Scorers: Routledge, Dyer, Bony
Cardiff Ciity: Marshall 5, John 4, Fabio 4 (Mc Naughton 4), Caulker 4, Turner 4, Bellamy 7, Medal 6, Kim Bo 4, Zaha 5 (Mutch 5), Whittingham 4, Jones 5 (Campbell 5). Unused substitutes: Lewis, Noone, Torres Ruiz, Daeli.
Cardiff man of the match: Bellamy
Scorers: None (that’s none in case you missed it the first time!)
Possession stats: Swans 62%, Cardiff 38%.
The match referee: Andre Mariner 8. Prior to this game Mariner had taken charge of 18 games, handing out 5 red and 59 yellow cards. I’m not usually a fan of Mr Mariner, but he was good in this match. He let a number of 50-50 tackles flow and was not over fussy. There were 2 yellow cards, with substitutes Hernandez and Mutch the recipients.
Attendance: 20,402. The home faithful were in fine voice, capping off a great night at the Liberty.