It has only taken 48 hours to recover, but Abi Davies has finally woken up from her dream of Swansea City reaching the Premier League to realise that it is indeed reality.
Just 8 years after beating Hull 4-2 to remain in and retain their football league status at The Vetch Field, Swansea City walked out to a crowd of almost 90,000 at Wembley to battle it out with Reading for a highly sought after place in the top flight of English football.
Swansea City were unchanged from the side that claimed a comprehensive 3-1 victory over Nottingham Forest in the semi final second leg, as Alan Tate continued at full back in place of Welsh international Neil Taylor who continued to serve his suspension following the red card he received against Forest. Garry Monk overcame an illness scare to start in the heart of Swansea’s defence alongside Swansea City’s rock Ashley Williams.
Reading were boosted by the return of pacey wide man Kebe who missed both legs of the semi final through injury, whilst striker Shane Long started up front hoping to add to his season tally of 25 goals.
The Royals got the game under way and applied early pressure on The Swans as Williams pass back to Dorus De Vries was almost closed down by Reading front man Shane Long within the opening few minutes.
Swansea’s defence was tested again moments later as Long’s ball found Kebe unmarked on the edge of the area, the winger tried to pick out Leigertwood in the centre, however, after Dorus De Vries’ attempted interception was spilled, Ashley Williams was on hand to clear the danger.
Swansea’s first chance came soon after as Scott Sinclair was fouled on the edge of the area, Fabio Borini stepped up to take the resulting free kick from a similar position to the one he scored from against Norwich earlier in the season. The Italian youngster’s effort was marginally high and wide of the target this time round.
Kebe enjoyed a lot of freedom down the wing as Alan Tate was backing off and allowing him too much space to work his way into dangerous positions.
As both sides tried to gain the upper hand, The Swans were dealt the perfect chance to gain an advantage, after some great play from Joe Allen to regain possession, Tate emerged with the ball and his cross whipped into the area found Nathan Dyer who was hacked down by Khizanishvili. Phil Down had no hesitations in pointing to the spot and Scott Sinclair stepped up and remained composed to slot home his 25th goal of the campaign.
Despite Reading’s grievance surrounding the awarding of the penalty, Khizanishvili should have considered himself lucky to still be on the pitch having already picked up a booking earlier on.
It took just two minutes for Brendan Rodgers’ side to double their advantage. Stephen Dobbie’s surging run left defender Harte in his trail, as the full back did not have the pace to keep up with the buoyant Scot, who was able to play the ball across the face of goal and find Sinclair. The England Under 21 international had no problems finding the back of the net from six yards out.
Nathan Dyer and Scott Sinclair switched wings after the goal, this may have been due to Dyer’s ability to track back and help out Alan Tate at left back, who seemed to be having a difficult afternoon keeping Kebe quiet.
The two Swansea goals brought confidence into Swansea’s game as they began to look far more composed, demonstrating their fluent passing with some great build up play.
Leon Britton and Joe Allen were proving as crucial as ever in the heart of Swansea’s midfield, making some vital interceptions and not allowing Shane Long time on the ball.
Stephen Dobbie was proving as detrimental as ever and after setting up Swansea’s second goal, Dobbie who won promotion at Wembley whilst on loan at Blackpool last season, was on hand to give Swansea an emphatic 3-0 lead with just 5 minutes of the half remaining. Nathan Dyer started the attack with his pace down the right wing proving too much for Ian Harte, then from his cross into the area the ball deflected off Khizanishvili into the path of Stephen Dobbie who blasted the ball past Reading keeper Federici.
The Royals had a great chance to pull a goal back just before half time as Karacan’s ball into the box fell for Reading’s top scorer Shane Long who failed to connect with the ball. Leigertwood also tested the Swansea goal late in the half however Dorus De Vries remained focused to fist away the midfielder’s long range effort and the score remained 3-0 Swansea at the break.
Substitute Tabb was given a red card at half time in the tunnel which compiled further misery on Reading’s afternoon. However it was The Royals who were the quicker out of the blocks in the second half and shortly after the re-start Reading fans were given something to cheer about, when Joe Allen’s deflected header ended up in his own net following a McAnuff corner.
Dobbie created a chance to restore Swansea’s 3 goal advantage with some great skill inside the area his shot fired across the face of goal.
This was Dobbie’s last involvement in the game as he was immediately replaced by Darren Pratley.
Two minutes after the substitution, Reading closed the deficit to just one goal as Swansea were again undone from a set piece. This time it was skipper Mills who headed home for The Royals.
The momentum was now firmly with Reading as they were looking dangerous and sensed Swansea were rattled.
Reading came agonisingly close to providing an equaliser however Karacan was denied by the woodwork.
Swansea were able to restore their 2 goal lead when Phil Dowd awarded the Welsh side with their second penalty of the game for a foul on Fabio Borini. Scott Sinclair remained composed once more to complete his play-off final hat-trick with his 27th goal since joining The Swans.
Joe Allen was replaced in the 89th minute after showing great maturity on the big stage, the Welsh international looked good in the middle of the park whilst also tracking back to help out Tate in defence throghout the game.
Brendan Rodgers’ side worked as a unit to ensure they held onto the lead and doing so became the first Welsh side to reach the Premiership, with Rodgers completing his first season in charge of Swansea with his first promotion as a manager.
Scott Sinclair thoroughly deserved Man of the match having made a bigger impact on the game than he has done over recent weeks as well as scoring a pivotal hat-trick that sealed Swansea’s place in the top flight.
Despite conceding two goals from set pieces, Swansea’s back line put in a mammoth performance, putting their bodies on the line in order to keep Swansea’s lead.
Fabio Borini gave his all for Swansea despite knowing that this would be his last game in a Swans shirt regardless of the outcome. The Italian youngster had been a tremendous attribute to Brendan Rodgers side, however he had already signed a deal with Serie A club Parma.