Swans heed the Pompey Chimes

Our resident expert of the nPower Championship Abi Davies took the long journey down the M4 (and further) for the Swans trip to Portsmouth.

The Swans headed to the South Coast for their penultimate away game of the season in search of their first victory on the road since beating Coventry 1-0 at the Ricoh Arena on 22nd February.

Brendan Rodgers made just one change to the side that lost at Burnley as Alan Tate started at left back with Neil Taylor dropping to the bench. This meaning Leon Britton and Darren Pratley retained their places in the side ahead of Joe Allen and Stephen Dobbie.

Saturday’s game saw Ashley Williams make his 300th career league appearance whilst a milestone was also reached by Nathan Dyer who made his 100th league appearance for Swansea City.

Portsmouth went into the game without the suspended Ricardo Rocha after the centre-back was dismissed at the Cardiff City Stadium last weekend. David Cotterill was also absent from the Pompey side as the midfielder was unable to play against his parent club.

Swansea City knew that victory over Portsmouth would see them level on points with 4th placed Reading with only three games of the season remaining.

As the sun shone down on Fratton Park, the home side got the game under way and were quick to create the games first chance. Earning a free kick within the opening 3 minutes, Hayden Mullins delivery found Aaron Mokoena who failed to find the target and arguably should have done better with a free header from 6 yards out. Portsmouth continued to dominate in the early exchanges with further chances through Jonathan Hogg and Hermann Hreidarsson as The Swans found it hard to get hold of the ball.

However the Welsh side stayed patient and mid way through the opening half started to show signs of the play that has seen them in and around the top six for the best part of the season. With Nathan Dyer posing the away sides biggest threat down the right, the pacey winger drew fouls fouls from Dave Kitson and Hreidarsson high up the field.

Portsmouth continued to concede silly fouls allowing The Swans to play their way into the game with Dyer and Rangel beginning to link up on the right channel, creating a number of problems for Pompey’s defence.

With 10 minutes of the half remaining Portsmouth were forced into making their first substitution as Kanu came on in place of the injured Dave Kitson.

Despite good build up play from the visitors it was the home side who had created the better chances in the opening half as Swansea had failed to test Pompey keeper Jamie Ashdown.

Swansea were a lot quicker out of the blocks in the second half as Scott Sinclair found himself in acres of space to try his luck from just outside the area, however his shot blasted past the face of goal. Apart from this effort, Swansea’s top scorer Sinclair was still finding it hard to have his usual influence on the game – maybe in need of a rest after playing such a crucial role in The Swans side so far this season.

Kanu was next to trouble The Swans back line after showing great control to bring the ball down inside the box, the veteran striker passed Angel Rangel however he was only able to earn a corner for his side as he failed to get any power or direction on his shot.

Brendan Rodgers side persevered to break the deadlock as Leon Britton came close with a rare shot from the diminutive midfielder firing just over the cross bar.

Neither side were creating any clear cut chances and the game was heading towards a stalemate as they approached the final 10 minutes.

Sinclair was presented with a further opportunity with 8 minutes left on the clock, as Gower picked out the England Under 21 international inside the area however he couldn’t get the right contact on the ball and his sliced shot scuffed past the near post.

To the fans surprise Rodgers didn’t introduce fresh legs until the 84th minute when Craig Beattie came on for Scott Sinclair.

Stephen Dobbie was introduced with a minute of normal time remaining and it was he who created the visitors best chance of the game as Ashdown did well to parry away the Scots powerful strike, Rangel collected and put the ball back into the area for Dyer who couldn’t get a decisive touch to direct the ball on target.

The game ended goalless bringing an end to the Swans woeful run of 4 consecutive defeats away from home and just about keeping alive their hopes of an automatic promotion spot.

I feel the absence of Neil Taylor in the starting line up was one of the reasons why Scott Sinclair struggled to make his usual impact on the game on Saturday. With defenders constantly doubling up on the winger, Alan Tate does not offer the same support on the overlap as Taylor has done so effectively over recent months.

Stephen Dobbie may have felt aggrieved to have found himself starting on the bench for the second week running and despite being introduced with only injury time remaining, the Scot proved to be the only Swans player to really work the keeper, changing the game as soon as he was introduced.

The Swans entertain Ipswich next, where Brendan Rodgers side will look to extend their unbeaten run at home to 7 matches, whilst a win will also see Swansea complete their 5th league double of the season.

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