Abi Davies was back on the road yesterday to Wolverhampton to see if Swansea’s away day blues could be banished.
Swansea made just one change to the starting XI that were compiled to a moral crushing 3-1 defeat at Carrow Road last weekend, as Mark Gower returned to the side in place of the more attacking Wayne Routledge who had to settle for a place on the bench, as the Swans went in search of their first victory away from home in The Premier League.
Both Swansea and Wolves were eager to get back to winning ways, and this was evident from the outset as the game was played at a quick tempo with both sides searching for a breakthrough early on.
Vorm was tested within the opening minute of the game when Karl Henry’s sweetly struck half volley almost caught the Dutch international off guard as he spilled his save before Angel Rangel cleared the danger.
The Swans reacted quickly with a chance of their own when Nathan Dyer made a surging run down the right wing before supplying a dangerous low ball into the box which forced Johnson into conceding a corner in order to clear the danger.
Joe Allen came close to breaking the deadlock when his powerful shot from distance forced his Wales team-mate into tipping the ball over the cross bar.
All the best chances early on were created by the visitors, who seemed to have a new lease of life in the final third having not shown a lot of creativity over recent weeks in games away from The Liberty.
Following a dominant spell from Swansea, they then had to endure an onslaught of pressure applied by McCarthy’s Wolves.
Last ditch defending from Rangel, Williams and Vorm helped the Swans sustain the barrage of Wolves attack.
Having threatened and created openings early on, Swansea found the breakthrough midway through the first half, as Mark Gower showed great vision to deliver a perfectly weighted dinked pass forward which found Danny Graham who calmly slotted past Hennessey from close range, with his third goal in as many games.
Jarvis forced Vorm into a great save to deny Wolves an equaliser as the midfielder’s free kick looked destined for the top corner before Vorm parried the ball away.
Swansea doubled their advantage with 10 minutes of the first half remaining. Rangel picked out the run of Danny Graham who was in space out wide, and given time to provide a perfect delivery across the face of goal, met by Joe Allen who side-footed the ball past Hennessey to give Rodgers’ side a deserved two goal margin.
Nathan Dyer’s defensive work at Molineux proved to be just as prolific as his offensive display as the winger made a number of timely challenges to intercept Wolverhampton attacks.
For all the Swans possession and their half time advantage, I still felt that Brendan Rodgers’ side were going through the phases a little too slowly at times, with their fluid passing movements looking great but not allowing them to advance into dangerous positions often enough, as Wolves defenders were given time to organise and recoup.
Swansea’s performance was far superior to that of last week. The majority of Swansea’s success came courtesy of the play out on the right flank as Nathan Dyer, Angel Rangel, Joe Allen and Danny Graham were involved in some great intricate movements down the channel.
One of the most questionable decisions of the afternoon came with 15 minutes of the game remaining, when Brendan Rodgers opted to take off Leon Britton. The midfielder played in a deeper role at Molineux than his usual anchoring position and was at times effectively playing as an additional centre back. However when he departed, Swansea lost a lot of their shape as it seemed no-one dropped back to fill the void left by Britton’s departure.
Having said this, I felt Andrea Orlandi did himself justice when he entered the fray, getting stuck into challenges, the Spaniard looked eager to prove his worth as he made his first Premier League appearance following a lengthy spell on the sideline.
Swansea still looked the more assertive and likely to score, with Scott Sinclair coming agonisingly close on two occasions. However, as it appeared to all that Wolverhampton were on course for a sixth successive league defeat, Kevin Doyle halved the deficit 6 minutes from time. The initial strike from Johnson was kept out well by Vorm who parried away, however couldn’t recompose to pull off a double save as Doyle blasted the ball past him from 6 yards out.
Moras then entered the game to make his first appearance since signing on a 3 month contract however Wolves sensed a comeback and just two minutes after they got themselves back into the game, Mick McCarthy’s side found themselves on level terms when Kevin Doyle turned provider, picking out O’Hara’s run. The midfielder made no mistake in finding the back of the net from 12 yards out.
From being in such a commanding position 10 minutes before, Swansea now found themselves on the back foot, desperately defending to deny Wolves a third which would have seen them overturn the deficit and claim their first league win since the 21st of August.
Much credit must go to Wolves for showing their ‘never say die’ attitude to amount a great late comeback to salvage a point as well as ease the pressure on Mick McCarthy.