This game was certainly a tale of two halves. Wednesday took the first as they went into half time one goal to the good courtesy of Adam Reach. However, Steve Cooper’s half time changes made the difference, as Andre Ayew equalled things up with a super solo goal mid-way through the second half. Although The Swans pushed forward and The Owls sat back as the second half went on, Swansea could not take their chances, as this one finished 1-1 at the Liberty.
There was one enforced change for Wednesday with Jordan Rhodes coming into the side for the suspended Josh Windass. Despite scoring only three goals last season and one so far this season, the striker will be hoping he can take advantage of a rare start tonight. Kieran Westwood keeps his place in the side following his mistake that let to the Preston winner last time out.
Swansea were looking to close the gap on the top two tonight, as Andre Ayew was only fit enough to make the bench. From the game on Saturday, Korey Smith replaces Jay Fulton who drops to the bench.
Although Wednesday come into this game with the league’s second-worst scoring record (six scored) against the second-best defence in the league (seven conceded), change may be on the horizon. Moses Odubajo said in Tuesday’s Press Conference that Pulis “wants the ball put in the opposition’s half as soon as possible when we’re able to – it’s not about forcing it, but if the opportunity does come then we don’t turn it down.” Hearing this, one may think that Pulis is changing things early on at Wednesday and is attempting to play more attacking football than usual. The fans and Jordon Rhodes tonight especially will be hoping that this really is the case.
Going into this game, the stats didn’t lie however. Sheffield Wednesday haven’t won away against Swansea since 1983 and Tony Pulis has never won away against them in his career. Going off that, Wednesday may not have been looking forward to this one.
On the Tony Pulis Hat Watcher this week, he is sporting an Elev8 grey hat tonight to match his team’s kit. Hopefully his ability to match with his side’s kit will bring him some luck given his record against the team from South Wales.
From the off, Wednesday looked solid at the back and the game plan was clear to see. They sat back and allowed Swansea to have the ball before pressing and pushing them back, often all the way back to the goalkeeper.
With Bannan able to get on the ball more tonight after his quality was nullified by Preston effectively last time out, pressing and winning the ball back was key before playing the ball forward to Rhodes, who was looking to spin into the channel off the back three of Swansea.
The first chance of the game came when a deflected Odubajo cross fell to Börner on his 50th cap. However, his strike in the box went straight into the keepers gloves. From this Swansea went straight down the other end and Roberts’ looping cross almost caught Westwood out in the Wednesday net. Unfortunately for Wednesday, Westwood had to be substituted for Joe Wildsmith as a result of his landing as he attempted to deal with Roberts’ cross.
With no other chances of note, we had to wait till the 27th minute for another opportunity when Wednesday were able to perfectly execute a corner routine straight off the training ground and take the lead. Bannan whipped in a low cross from the left hand side and Reach peeled round from the back post to the left hand side of the box to sweep it home and make it 1-0 by scoring his first league goal for 14 months.
From this Wednesday went about defending their lead with big challenges going in from Bannan and Van Aken to break up play. Everyone was now behind the ball except Rhodes when defending, with the desire to counter and play balls over the top when the ball was won back.
Despite a couple of long range shots from Reach and Börner there was nothing else to report. The confidence was certainly coming back for Wednesday who haven’t looked like scoring for many of their previous games.
As the game went into first-half stoppage time, Cullen had a chance but he couldn’t head Roberts’ cross on target. Despite this last gasp effort before the break, Swansea went into half time one nil down and Steve Cooper will have been bitterly disappointed with his team’s showing.
Half time: Swansea City 0-1 Sheffield Wednesday
At half time Swansea made two changes with Andre Ayew and Kasey Palmer coming on as they adopted a back four with Liam Cullen and Kyle Naughton dropping to the bench. As Steve Cooper sought to even up the battle in midfield, the changes almost made an instant impact, as Smith crossed to Lowe who’s shot went wide.
Not too long after, a counter from Wednesday almost resulted in Reach slipping past the entire Swansea defence if it wasn’t for Cabango’s last ditch challenge.
When Rhodes came off for Kachunga in 55th minute you could see that frustration was seeping in for some of the Swansea players with Grimes and Dhanda picking up yellow cards in the first ten minutes of the second half.
In the 60th minute, Cooper made two more changes with Wayne Routledge and Ryan Manning coming on for Jamal Lowe and Jake Bidwell. Although these changes played no part in the what was about to happen next, one of Steve Cooper’s earlier substitutes made his mark on the game. In the 61st minute, Andre Ayew showed his class and quality by twisting and turning in the box, leaving the Sheffield Wednesday players behind before curling a left-footed shot past a helpless Wildsmith to level up the scores at 1-1.
Whereas this goal only spurred on The Swans as Grimes had a shot blocked before Dhanda’s driven effort went just wide, it seemed to inspire Tony Pulis to shore up Wednesday’s defensive line. Bringing on Liam Shaw, the young centre back, and Joey Pelupessy in midfield, Wednesday seemed to drop deeper and deeper.
With Andre Ayew continuing to prove why he is one of the best players in The Championship and a vital part of this Swansea team, they moved further up the pitch and took control of possession and the game. When Kasey Palmer won a free kick around 25 yards out it looked like a chance to extend the lead but Dhanda fired the free kick just wide.
Going into the final five minutes, the only real chance on target was a deflected Matt Grimes effort, which ended up being claimed easily by Wildsmith in the Wednesday goal.
As the game moved through the five minutes of stoppage time, it looked like Wednesday would settle for a point as they sought to sit back and defend, whereas Swansea were on the front foot, pushing forward and looking for that winner. After numerous corners and strikes from Ayew amongst others, one final Grimes corner culminated in a goalmouth scramble and the ball being put into the back of the Wednesday net before the goal being disallowed for a foul in the build up.
Despite this late opportunity for Swansea Wednesday just survived a late onslaught from and found themselves on the right side of Lady Luck tonight.
Full time: Swansea 1-1 Sheffield Wednesday
Once again it was a tale on two halves. Wednesday played well in the first half and despite only having 40% possession looked comfortable and secured the lead going into half time. However, the introduction of Ayew revitalised Swansea and completed changed the outlook of the game with Swansea securing the equaliser early on and pushing for the winner throughout.
From a Wednesday perspective this was a good performance in comparison to Saturday’s loss to Preston. Despite a late scare, a draw is a good result for the Owls and the point will certainly help them in their search to avoid relegation this season.
For Swansea, a poor first half was made up for by a much improved second half following numerous substitutions. Although they will take the point, they will rue the opportunities they spurned to get the winning goal. One big positive going into Sunday’s fixture against Nottingham Forest was Ayew’s return from injury and his immediate impact on the game tonight.