Cullen returns from injury with timely equaliser for Swans

Liam Cullen returns to action with a goal for Swansea City 


Swansea City 2 - Wycombe Wanderers 2


Liam Cullen’s return to action after 10 weeks out proved timely for Swansea City as his late header salvaged a point against Wycombe Wanderers at the Liberty Stadium this afternoon. 

Cullen has not been involved since picking up an ankle injury in the FA Cup against Nottingham Forest on January 24th, a game he scored twice in, but just minutes after coming on headed in Connor Roberts’ cross at the back post. 

Swansea were heading for what looked a certain defeat after trailing to early second half goals from Admiral Muskwe and Gareth McCleary – before Jamal Lowe’s 80th minute penalty was followed three minutes later by a headed equaliser from the returning Liam Cullen. 

The final whistle brought mixed emotions for Cooper’s side. On paper, they failed to fully capitalise on Watford’s defeat at Luton but in reality, it was an unlikely point gained from an afternoon where the visitors were by far the better side. 

Wycombe dominate after Ayew exits early

The hosts did have the first clear opening when Connor Roberts, playing on the right wing in a 4-3-3 formation, went clean through but was thwarted by away keeper David Stockdale. 

But things unraveled after Andre Ayew limped off eight minutes in with a hamstring injury, with Cooper admitting it would be another 48 hours before the extent of a potential hammer blow for Swansea was known. 

From there Wycombe defied their position at the bottom of the league as they dominated physically and carried the greater threat - and when Muskwe blasted home from 20 yards in the opening moments of the second half, it was fully deserved. 

The five minutes that followed were chaotic. Lowe did have a chance to level but was thwarted by the legs of Stockdale, and Anthony Stewart was close to doubling the lead when his looped header hit the bar.

Bur sure enough, then McCleary cut in from the left flank and fired in through a crowded area to make it 0-2. 

Lowe and Cullen spark a frantic finish

At that point there seemed no way back for Swansea, and even more so after Lowe was again denied by Stockdale and Wayne Routledge’s follow up was cleared off the line by Jason McCarthy. 

But with 10 minutes left they grabbed a lifeline when McCarthy handled in the area, and Lowe buried the penalty high into the top corner. 

Just three minutes later came Cullen’s moment and suddenly, a game seemingly meandering towards a Wycombe win was set up for a frantic finale. 

Sure enough, there was further drama in injury time when former Liberty Stadium favourite Adebayo Akinfenwa headed against the post for Wycombe, and Muskwe somehow put the rebound wide from point blank range. 

At the other end, Ryan Bennett had huge claims for a second Swansea penalty turned down when he took a tumble in the six yard box. 

The gap between Swansea and second placed Watford is now down to six points with both having four games to play, and the two are due to meet at Vicarage Road on the final day of the season. 
Brentford sit two points behind Swansea following their goalless draw with Millwall, but with a game in hand. 

Cullen focused on four “massive” games

Swansea manager Steve Cooper insisted afterwards his team wouldn’t be giving up on a top two finish and for Cullen, who had only trained twice with the first team since being declared fit from his lay off, is seemingly ready to contribute. 

“I’m unbelievably pleased to comeback like that,” the 21-year-old told afterwards. 

“The one downer is we only got a point from the game but on a personal level, it has been a long 10 weeks. I’ve tried to make it as productive as I can to make sure I came back in a better state than before I got injured, and I feel I have done.” 

Cullen also had praise for the Swansea medical and fitness staff for getting him back ahead of schedule, and said he was now fully focused on playing his part in the run-in, starting with another home game against QPR on Tuesday. 

“Obviously we’ve got a massive four games now. I’m just concentrating on keeping myself right and in good nick. I want to play for this club as much as I can but we will see what he (Steve Cooper) decided on Tuesday and whether I start, or am on the bench, I’ll be ready to give it my all.” 

Swansea City: Woodman; Naughton (Whittaker 54), Bennett, Guehi, Manning; Grimes (C), Fulton (Smith 54), Hourihane (Dhanda 54); Roberts, Ayew (Routledge 8) (Cullen 76), Lowe. 
Subs not used: Hamer, Cabango, Bidwell, Latibeaudiere.