Swans suffer fourth successive defeat

Swansea City manager Steve Cooper



Swansea City 0 - Preston North End 1

Four successive defeats, 448 minutes without a goal, and now a precarious looking four-point gap between Swansea and seventh placed Bournemouth. 

That’s the stark reality after the latest setback for Steve Cooper’s side, a last-gasp home defeat at the hands of Preston North End this afternoon. 

The hosts at least looked set to end their run of losses when, in the first minute of injury time, former player Scott Sinclair’s shot cannoned off Freddie Woodman into Matt Grimes – and subsequently into the net. 

But like on Friday in Birmingham, where the defining goal also came in injury time, it was no less than Swansea’s opponents deserved. 

Preston apply the early pressure: 

A one-sided first half saw Bradley Potts twice go close for the visitors; volleying narrowly over before seeing his close range effort tipped over by Freddie Woodman. 

Swansea, bar one blocked shot from Morgan Whittaker, barely mustered a threat and just before the break, were fortunate not to go down to 10 men when Marc Guehi pulled down Ched Evans as he bore down on the penalty area, and would have been relieved to see referee Peter Bankes only brandish a yellow. 

Swansea old boy Sinclair stars in the late show: 

The second 45 minutes followed the same vein. Preston keeper Daniel Iversen, a spectator for much of the day, did have to rush out as Jamal Lowe tried to latch onto Ryan Manning’s through ball, but it was the home striker who ended up deservedly booked for going to ground as he tried to skip past the keeper.
At the other end Potts again threatened when played through by Sepp van den Berg’s through ball, only to have his shot blocked by Connor Roberts – and substitute Sinclair headed wastefully over from six yards. 
As time ran out Ben Cabango’s last ditch tackle to deny Jayson Molumby had seemingly salvaged a point for Swansea, but then came the hammer blow. 

Ben Whiteman’s scuffed shot found its way to Sinclair, who famously scored the play-off final hat-trick that took Swansea to the Premier League back in 2011, and although he was denied there was little Woodman – or Grime – could do about what followed. 

Swansea go to Millwall next Saturday and Cooper and co will know, that if their promotion hopes suddenly look dicey now, a further setback in London and those same hopes could well be hanging by a thread. 

Post-match reaction: 

“I’m not going to hide away from any of this,” said Cooper. 

“We are not keeping cleaning sheets, not scoring, and not winning, and we can’t blame anything else outside of our circle. And that starts with me. 

“We know the last four games have not been good enough and there have been disappointing stats to run alongside that which we’re not happy about.” 

Cooper denied he was seeing any evidence of a lack of confidence in his players, but all but conceded that, despite having been automatic promotion contenders for so long, Swansea’s main aim was now a top six finish. 

“Still, if at the start of the season someone said we’d be fourth with seven games to go we’d have taken it. We are going through a difficult period and other results haven’t gone for us today but that’s our own fault – but a lot of things are still in our hands and we have to take confidence from that and fight hard. 

For Preston’s interim manager Frank McAvoy however, the post-match outlook was very different. 

“I’m delighted for the players and the supporters back home. 

“That’s (the performance) what we’ve asked them. There’s great camaraderie, mutual trust and effort in the group. That’s always been there.” 

It was Preston’s first win in Swansea since 1961, and McAvoy’s first in temporary charge, but he was in no mood to make the moment about him. 

“It’s not about Frank McAvoy today. It’s the players who win games. We went to try and beat Norwich on Saturday, we wanted to win today, and it’ll be the same for Brentford on Saturday.” 

Swansea City: Woodman; Roberts, Cabango, Guehi, Manning; Grimes (C), Fulton, Hourihane (Dhanda 80); Lowe, Ayew, Whittaker (Routledge 80). Subs: Hamer, Bennett, Bidwell, Latibeaudiere, Naughton, Smith, O Cooper.