Tuesday, 28 January 2020

Post-Match Review: Stoke City 2-0 Swansea City



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Sam Clucas celebrated in front of the Swansea fans.

Swansea City missed the opportunity to return to the play-offs with an uninspiring display as Stoke City ease their relegation fears.

Damp squib
Following two wins from their last three games the Swans headed to the Britannia Stadium in good form and in good spirits. But, goals from former Swan Sam Clucas - who made his joy known - and a 91st minute James McLean strike made this eight-hour round trip one to forget.

A Stoke hoodoo
It seems almost remarkable, but Swansea haven't won away at Stoke since March 2001 - both sides were in Division League 2 as it was called back then. That's nine games without a win at Stoke. And, remember, this was a Stoke side that had won two and drawn one in their last three games under Michael O'Neill.

What went wrong?
If you had watched the opening 20 minutes, you would have believed that the respective positions in the league table prior to the game - 7th (Swansea) and 21st (Stoke) - were indeed true. The Welsh side were unlucky not to net in the first ten minutes with Bersant Celina unlucky not to get back-to-back assists with an inviting drilled cross.

Celina was all over the place and he himself had a shot blocked on 11 minutes with on-loan Chelsea midfielder Conor Gallagher being denied superbly by Stoke 'keeper Jack Butland. The atmosphere was growing tense as the home fans knew they were under the cosh. But, they began turning the screw.

Clucas' goal on 55 minutes was well-taken, but Swansea almost replied instantly. A Matt Grimes free-kick hit the crossbar and Rhian Brewster went close twice in two minutes just after the hour.

The Swans tried desperately, but just couldn't find the net as a mistake by debutant Marc Guehi allowed James McLean to run through on goal and end the game just after the 90th minute.

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James McLean thanks the Stoke fans after netting.

Positives
Swansea fans got to see Chelsea loanee Marc Guehi in action for the first time and he held his own, though was at fault for Stoke's second goal. But, there was a return to action for Joe Rodon, who finally took to the football field for his first Championhip game since October,

Swansea still hold the lowest amount of goals conceded from set pieces with just five - something which boss Steve Cooper can certainly take pride from.

Matt Grimes looked very impressive against a strong Stoke midfield, rattling the crossbar with a free-kick whilst Rhian Brewster looked a constant threat and Andre Ayew did some magical hold-up play.

What to work on
Surely, Cooper's men have to work on their corner-taking. The Swans earned 11 corners to Stoke's one at the weekend and rarely looked to threaten.

George Byers, Conor Gallagher and Jake Bidwell all looked as though they were struggling against a physical Stoke side. Cooper may well look to switch things up against Preston at the weekend.

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