Abi Davies can at last bring us some good news from the Swansea camp.
Norwich were in pole position to claim the highly sought after second automatic promotion spot going into Saturday’s game at The Liberty having won their previous nine Championship matches. The Canaries were undefeated on the road since February 5th while The Swans boast one of the best defensive records in the league, having only conceded 9 Championship goals at home all season.
It was the visitors who started the brighter, demonstrating their premier league credentials within the opening four minutes with loan signing Daniel Pacheco and Grant Holt forcing Swansea keeper Dorus De Vries into making an instinctive double save.
Despite this early onslaught, it was the home side who broke the deadlock moments later as a late challenge from Zac Whitbread on Fabio Borini presented the Swans with a free kick 25 yards from goal and after an impressive brace at The Liberty on his début, Italian Under 21 international Borini picked himself up to take the free kick, firing the ball into the top left hand corner- netting his third goal in Swansea City colours.
The away side continued to create chances, with the Canneries top scorer Holt applying the majority of the pressure on De Vries’ goal.
However Brendan Rodgers side doubled their lead on 29 minutes through unlikely source Mark Gower, as Angel Rangel’s initial shot was parried out by John Ruddy Norwich failed to clear their lines and the ball fell to midfielder Gower who scored his first goal of the season with a venomous strike from 25 yards out. Fabio Borini had the chance to add a third shortly after as he was played through by Nathan Dyer, however Ruddy was on hand to stop the striker. The Swans were the dominant force after doubling their lead, despite neither full back having the influence on the game that they have done so often over recent weeks. The Swans kept the visitors in their own half, putting them under pressure and pressing high up the field- Joe Allen’s work ethic yet again stood out for me, looking hungry to win back possession as well as looking calm on the ball for the majority of the game, he has developed into one of the best midfielder’s in the side and arguably one of the best in the division.
Stephen Dobbie’s return to the starting line up proved the difference for me in the first half- despite not testing the keeper, the Scot has so many other attributes to his game which I feel the side lack without his inclusion. His great awareness and link up play brings out the best in the striker and I feel we missed this at Preston last weekend.
Half time Swans 2-0 Norwich
Norwich showed great intent after the restart dictating the pace of the game, helped by a number of wayward passes from Swansea players. Just before the hour mark Andrew Crofts was left in acres of space on the edge of the area but his shot blasted just wide of the post.
Shortly after, Tamas Priskin was introduced into the action in place of Stephen Dobbie with Borini dropping into a deeper role and Priskin playing up top. The home side continued to ride their luck giving Norwich time in and around the area, with Dorus De Vries being asked to make his second outstanding double save of the match on 71 minutes.
At the other end Sinclair had chances to extend the Swans lead, forcing a great save from the Norwich keeper.
With 10 minutes remaining, it was evident that Brendan Rodgers had done his homework on the opposition, as he made a double substitution bringing on Leon Britton and Alan Tate in place of Borini and Nathan Dyer, knowledgable of Norwich’s ability to overturn defeat’s in the final 10 minutes of matches.
Deep into injury time Swansea inflicted further misery on Paul Lambert’s side as Tamas Priskin pounced on a back pass to Ruddy which left him with the simplest of tap ins.
The Swans remain in 4th place, now level on points with Cardiff in 3rd, just 1 point off Norwich with 6 games left.