Stoke City vs Swansea City – Match Report

Swan dive earns Steve Cooper’s men a last gasp win at the bet365 Stadium to keep the pressure on the top two.

Stoke entered the fixture in need of a win to boost their slim playoff hopes, after just two victories in fifteen games.

Michael O’Neill’s men had been hit with more injury woes in the run-up to the game, with news that both Sam Clucas and James McClean face lengthy spells on the sidelines.

The Stoke boss made just one change to the side that lost 2-1 to Brentford in their previous game, with Steven Fletcher returning to the team for Jordan Thompson.

Despite still sitting four points from second with three games in hand, Swansea also needed to regain consistency heading into their visit to Staffordshire after two wins and three losses in their last five.

Steve Cooper surprisingly shuffled his pack after a 3-1 home defeat to Bristol City, making four changes. Naughton, Fulton, Manning and Smith came in for Latibeaudiere, Bidwell, Hourihane and Dhanda.

Swansea would be looking for a repeat of the return fixture back in October, when they dispatched of the Potters 2-0 at the Liberty Stadium.

Stoke started the game with a goal inside a minute in their previous game, and this time they found another early opener with just six minutes on the clock.

The usually reliable Marc Guehi was beaten by the Stoke press and had his cross-field pass intercepted by Steven Fletcher, with the Scot’s delightful flick laying it off for Nick Powell to smash home from the edge of the box into Woodman’s right-hand bottom corner.

Another early lead for Stoke against a top four side, but they needed to hold on better this time.

Swansea grew into the game after the early setback and began to take control of the game after 15 minutes.

Their pressure paid off on 18 minutes, as they found their leveller with relative ease.

A good move found Manning on the left side, and his cross found his opposite wing-back Connor Roberts who connected well and left Gunn with no chance as the ball flew past him.

Some great build up play afforded Stoke a rare chance on 29 minutes, as Tommy Smith rattled the right-hand post with a strong drive from 30 yards out.

Swansea were still dominating proceedings as halftime approached, and Manning’s shot from distance on 36 minutes was a reminder of the threat they posed in front of goal.

Stoke had a spell of pressure at the end of the half, and Harry Souttar’s half volley was well beaten away by Woodman at his near post after a corner had fallen to the centre-back in the box.

Half time: Stoke City 1-1 Swansea City

Despite going behind in the first minutes, Swansea were no doubt the better team in the opening 45 and will have felt that they should have been ahead.

The second half needed much more from a misfiring Stoke team that had struggled to put together any real good passages of play.

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Jack Clarke entered the pitch at half time, coming on for Danny Batth in a change that saw Stoke revert to 4-2-3-1 instead of 3-5-2.

Stoke started the half brightly yet again, and should have taken the lead with five minutes gone.

Smith delivered a sumptuous ball to Fletcher, and the 33 year-old had the goal gaping at the back post but crashed his shot onto the upright instead.

Chester then also had the goal gaping for him on the follow up, but could only watch his snapshot sail over the bar.

Jacob Brown ran straight through the Swans defence on ** and should have found a finish, but his touch was poor and it was easy for Woodman to gather.

Stoke looked much better in the second 45, but still had no second goal to show for their pressure with 20 minutes to go.

The Jacks then began to build some pressure of their with 15 to go, with star man Hourihane coming on as the Potters midfield began to tire.

Connor Roberts should have had his second of the game with 10 minutes to go, after peeling off of Chester from a cross and forcing Gunn into a brilliant stop from 10 yards out.

In a dramatic turn of events, Swansea’s Kyle Naughton found his way into the box on 94 minutes and won a soft penalty under the challenge of the lightweight Jack Clarke.

Andre Ayew stepped up and sent Gunn the wrong way to win the game at the death for his side.

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Full time: Stoke City 1-2 Swansea City

Stoke had come out and looked the better team in the second half, and the game looked to be petering out until David Webb made the decision to take centre stage.

Michael O’Neill was understandably fuming with the referee after the game’s conclusion.

Swansea had played well for spells, but will know that they have got away with one despite not playing close to their best on the night.

Stoke now go into the next game in 11th with Wycombe up next. Swansea sit 4th and take on Middlesbrough.

Match report by Oliver Walton.

Published by olliewalton

Stoke City fan, trainee Sports Journalist at UCLan

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