Hourihan makes his mark as Swansea frustrate Brentford

The Swans celebrate an equaliser at the Liberty Stadium



Swansea City 1 – Brentford 1

Conor Hourihane made his first telling contribution in a Swansea shirt as his late free kick salvaged a point against promotion rivals Brentford, writes Fraser Watson.
The visitors had taken a deserved lead when Tarique Fosu-Henry headed in with just 15 minutes left, by which time the Swans were down to ten men following Kyle Naughton’s needless red card.
But just three minutes after the goal Hourihane, on his league debut after signing on loan from Aston Villa, swung in a free kick from the right which evaded everyone, most noticeably Brentford keeper David Maya, and nestled in the far corner to secure a point that the hosts scarcely deserved.
Bees buzz early with no reward:
The last clash between these sides in South Wales came in August’s play off semi-final was high octane in every sense- but for the opening half an hour last night it was only the visitors who dictated the high tempo.
A long-range ball from Ethan Pinnock sent Rico Henry clear but the left-back pulled his shot wide of Freddie Woodman's far post. Further alarm bells rang moments later when Bryan Mbeumo headed wastefully over.
It was perhaps credit to Swansea’s now renowned defensive rearguard that further Brentford pressure didn’t yield more clear chances before the break but significantly, Jamal Lowe and Andre Ayew spent more time protecting their own penalty are than they did threatening in the opposition's half.
Pressure pays after Naughton sees red:
The second half followed a similar theme. Henrik Dalsgaard fired over from 20 yards before Josh Dasilva was denied by Woodman at point blank range.
And then Naughton, already booked, saw yellow again for a clumsy late tackle on Sergi Canos and suddenly, the final 21 minutes looked a long time for the home side to hold out.

And so it proved. Ivan Toney headed over and Mathias Jensen volleyed straight at Woodman, before the inevitable came when substitute Fosu-Henry made no mistake with his downward header from Henrik Dalsgaard’s cross.
Hourihane swings in his reply:

At that point, Swansea were yet to register an effort on target so there was a sense of irony when just three minutes later, they levelled with Hourihane’s attempted cross.
After Mads Sorensen's clumsy foul on Lowe, the midfielder swung in a free kick from wide on the right that flew over Raya and into the net – with the keeper’s claims at being impeded by Jake Bidwell ignored by referee John Brooks.
From that point Swansea, with Marc Guehi outstanding at the back, hung on for dear life. On balance they did not merit the point, a final attempts on goal tally of 21-2 in the away side's favour told the story, and improvement when at Rotherham on Saturday will be needed. But it was 90 minutes that again reinforced the notion that under Steve Cooper, this is side capable of getting results when backs are to the wall.
It’s now eight league and cup games unbeaten for Cooper and Co, with last night’s point taking them back to second. Brentford remain two points behind them in fourth, but with a game in hand.
Last night ended with Swansea earning parity with Brentford. But whether they can be superior to them in terms of the table come May, could well be the difference between automatic promotion or not.