Cullen goals seal Swans' FA Cup success

Liam Cullen celebrates

FA Cup fourth round:

Swansea City 4 - Nottingham Forest 1

It was an FA Cup tie that Liam Cullen won’t forget in a hurry, writes Fraser Watson.

The 21-year-old struck twice, his first goals at the Liberty Stadium, to help Swansea City rout Nottingham Forest 5-1 and set up a fifth round tie at home to Manchester City. 

In fact, his afternoon was only tempered by a late ankle injury which saw him hobble off with 10 minutes remaining, but it didn’t detract from a standout display. 

Stunning goals see Swansea take control: 

The tie was just seven minutes old when Wayne Routledge’s cross from the right found Cullen, who showed great composure to volley left footed past Forest keeper Jordan Smith.  

He was involved again soon after when his first time flicked pass played in Jamal Lowe, who had replaced Routledge after he went off injured after that first goal, but his heavy first touch saw the chance go to waste. 

But just before the half hour mark it was 2-0, as home skipper Matt Grimes thundered in a swerving shot from 25 yards and at that point, Forest appeared disinterested and the tie looked as good as over.
Forest fightback before floodgates open: 

The visitors did come out with renewed purpose after the break and pulled one back when Anthony Knockaert capitalized on some slack defending to score, but immediately afterwards the two goal lead was restored when Ryan Manning dubiously went down under Joe Worrall’s challenge – and Grimes confidently dispatched the penalty. 

Cullen continued to threaten and had a shot blocked at close range but then on the 67 minute mark, he finished off a sublime move for his second.  

Yan Dhanda’s accurate pass with the outside of his right foot found Manning, whose low cross was swept home first time by the striker. 

A half chance for a hat trick did come but the Kilgetty man slipped as he tried to latch onto a ricochet in the area, before another youngster in Ollie Cooper completed the rout with a low shot that squirmed under Smith. 

Cooper hails a deserved double: 

After the game, Swansea boss Steve Cooper told
“Culls deserved that. 

“He’s just been waiting for those type of chances to drop to him and I knew when they did he would score them. 

“He’s done it for years for the academy and the 23s in particular, and we see him do it every day in training.

He’s a really good finisher – even today the chances weren’t easy but he made them look comfortable.  
“He’s a good player and a great lad - and he’s a real part of what we’re doing.” 

The player himself took to social media after the game to describe the ‘unreal’ feeling of his first Liberty goals, and thanked everyone for their messages of support. 

Cullen’s timely statement: 

In many respects it has been a frustrating campaign for Cullen. He has virtually been a permanent fixture in the senior squad, and yet opportunities have been few and far between. Prior to yesterday he had started just three times this season – and substitute appearances have been limited to the dying moments of games. 

But yesterday showcased his ability in front of goal and furthermore, he worked hard at the other end of the pitch too, making one vital defensive header just before half time. 

With Jamal Lowe and Andre Ayew left out of the XI yesterday, he’ll know a regular starting place is still going to be difficult to come by before this season is out. But all he can do his take the chances that come his way, and yesterday he quite literally did that. 

An anxious wait may be in store now until he learns the extent of the injury that forced him off – but regardless he’s served a timely reminder as to why the club have been so keen to keep him through youth and now senior football. 

The FA Cup stirs memories for many footballers. In years to come, Cullen may just look back at yesterday’s one as the day that really kick started his senior career. 
 Two goal hero Liam Cullen picked up an ankle injury