Abigail Davies reports on another frustrating afternoon watching Swansea City.
They came up against a Derby County side who had won only 1 of their last 12 games and were without a home victory since November 20th.
Brendan Rodgers kept faith in the XI that started on Tuesday, meaning the in-form Stephen Dobbie retained his place in the side, earning his first start away from home since October 16. The Welsh side started the brighter with their early dominance resulting in 2 corners in quick succession. Taken by Mark Gower he saw his second corner played back out to him, and at the second time of asking produced a good delivery in to Ashley Williams, who’s header fired just wide of the target.
Moments later Williams was at the centre of the action again- in his more familiar defensive role he played an uncharacteristic and misplaced back pass, which caught out Dutch keeper Dorus De Vries and after coming close to providing the Swans with the opener the Welsh international conceded his second own goal of the campaign. The goal brought an immediate momentum switch as the Rams looked to press on and take advantage of The Swans error. The visitors struggled to hold onto possession as Derby pressed the Welsh side, not allowing them to build play up from defence as both full-backs were closely marked, therefore Tate and Williams were forced into using different routes forward. Nigel Clough’s side had a great opportunity to double their lead, only for Jamie Ward’s close range header from a Robbie Savage free kick to be intercepted by Ashley Williams- who made amends for his earlier mistake. Williams, who was heavily involved in a lot of the first half action came close to cancelling out his own goal, as his powerful leap saw him connect with the ball inside the penalty area with his effort rattling the cross-bar.
Stephen Dobbie posed a threat throughout the game, with the majority of goal scoring opportunities falling to him. The Scot demonstrated from the outset his great awareness, skill and ability to bring other players into an attack and it was he who presented the visitors with their last chance of the half as he worked his way into the box with his cross played just too far ahead of Scott Sinclair who was unable to change the direction of the ball with his touch.
Brendan Rodgers couldn’t be blamed for not attempting to change his sides fortune as his half time substitutions saw the introduction of dynamic duo Darren Pratley and Leon Britton in place of Gower and Moore.
The Swans chances of taking anything from the game were slashed 10 minutes after the restart as Steve Davies’ header from close range doubled the home side’s lead. The Rams were not playing like a team lacking confidence and at times played in a similar style to the one we usually see from The Swans. Robbie Savage stood out as one of the key performers for Derby along with defender Ayala who made numerous vital interceptions at the back.
Hope re-emerged for Brendan Rodgers side with 25 minutes left on the clock as Darren Pratley headed home from an Angel Rangel delivery, taking his season tally into double figures. Following the goal, Craig Beattie was immediately introduced in place of Nathan Dyer who had struggled to make an impact on the game having not been given the freedom to run at and take on the defence. With Dyer being replaced, Dobbie had to show his versatility playing in his third position of the afternoon out on the right wing.
Joe Allen showed great character through his defensive and offensive play on Saturday, forcing a number of saves out of Derby keeper Fielding whilst also putting in some crucial challenges.
Derby held on to claim their first victory at Pride park in almost 4 months, while Swansea have now lost their last 2 games on the road. With just one point from their last three games there is even more pressure on next weeks game against fellow promotion candidates Nottingham Forest at The Liberty