Swans good value for a vital victory - by Fraser Watson

The Liberty Stadium pitch cut up badly



Swansea 2 - Barnsley 0 

A week can be a long time in football. 

Sure enough, for Swansea City and manager Steve Cooper, the fluctuating nature of the Championship has never been more apparent than these past seven days. 

Their most assured display of the campaign in Cardiff last Saturday was followed by arguably their most inept one in Derby on Wednesday – but order was restored yesterday with a workmanlike win over Barnsley. 

Pitch posing a real problem but Swans start with a bang

On a deteriorating surface that was promptly ripped up as soon as the final whistle was blown, an early strike from Jamal Lowe and a second half own goal from Victor Adeboyejo was enough to send the Swans back up to third ahead of a Boxing Day trip to Loftus Road. 

The much-maligned pitch, and sporadic spontaneous downpours, ensured it wasn’t 90 minutes that will linger long in the memories of the few able to attend. And that was despite a dramatic start as Ben Cabango’s looped header fell to Lowe, who with just 75 seconds on the clock volleyed in from close range for his third goal in as many games. 

Barnsley responded, although clear chances were few and far between. 

Alex Mowatt’s free kick was beaten away by home keeper Freddie Woodman, Jay Fulton went close to turning Clarke Odour’s corner into his own net, and Ben Cabango slid in to deny Mads Andersen from close range. 

Clear openings for The Swans before they settle the issue

Indeed, a half time corner count of 1-5 underlined Barnsley’s pressure, but before the break came two clear openings for Swansea too. 

Firstly, Yan Dhanda latched onto Andre Ayew’s header and managed to nick the ball past Barnsley keeper Jack Walton, who clattered the forward for his troubles. The fact Walton was 30 yards out of his goal, and covered by two retreating defenders, ensured he saw yellow rather than red. 

Then the pace of Lowe, which plagued the Barnsley back four all afternoon, saw him race clear and cross low for Connor Roberts – but the full back was unable to get his feet right and make the required connection. 

Early in the second half Walton was sharply off his line again but this time got his body position right to deny Lowe with a sliding tackle - before the latter again threatened by firing across goal from a tight angle. 

But in the 66th minute the points were sealed as a Matt Grimes corner skimmed off the head of Adeboyejo and into the far corner. 

Swans head to Christmas in the promotion mix

It could have got worse for Barnsley when Lowe outstripped Michael Sollbauer only to be seemingly pulled back by the centre half, and there was much bewilderment from the Swansea bench when referee Andy Davies waved play on.  

It mattered little however, and despite Jake Bidwell blazing over from point blank range late on, the Swans ensured they head into Christmas right in the promotion mix. 

And despite seeing his side dig deep yesterday, the gift of a new pitch to play possession football on again will be a welcome one for Steve Cooper. 

Swansea City: Woodman, Cabango, Bennett, Guehi, Roberts, Fulton, Grimes (C), Bidwell, Dhanda, Lowe, Ayew. Subs not used: Benda, Manning, Smith, Gyokeres, Routledge, Cullen, Latibeaudiere, Cooper, Palmer. 
Barnsley: Walton, Brittain, Sollbauer, Helik, Andersen, Oduor, James (Palmer 71), Mowatt (C) (Kane 82), Frieser (Miller 57), Chaplin (Adeboyejo 57), Woodrow (Thomas 57). 
Subs not used: Collins, Moon, Schmidt. 

Digging up the pitch after the game