Abi Davies only got this piece to me this morning after an extended bout of celebration on a great performance from the Swans on Saturday. And why not, eh?
From the outset it was apparent that Bolton would have been content leaving The Liberty with a point, playing deep, with 2 defensive rows of five meaning Swansea were finding it hard to push up past the half way line in the opening minutes, despite enjoying the majority of the possession.
Gardner found out early on that he was in for a tough afternoon as Nathan Dyer demonstrated his blistering pace to pass the defender on a number of occasions.
Two chances for Swansea in the opening 10 minutes came courtesy of Scott Sinclair, however the winger wasn’t able to put Bolton Keeper Jaaskelainen under any substantial pressure.
Neil Taylor also came close as his curling shot from the edge of the area fell just wide of the far post.
David N’Gog had a great chance to break the deadlock for Bolton almost midway through the first half, when Gary Monk allowed the striker time and space to set himself up for a shot however Vorm did well to parry the ball over the cross bar.
Having not found much success out wide, Scott Sinclair moved into a more central role where he posed a large threat playing in behind Danny Graham.
Bolton were reduced to 10 men shortly after the interval when Gardner saw red for a second bookable offence. Yet again it was Nathan Dyer drawing the foul from the defender with his pace and agility along with his height making him extremely difficult for defenders to mark. From the resulting free kick, Joe Allen found himself in space to position a low driving shot into the bottom corner.
A man down and a goal down, Bolton started to lose their discipline as a number of rash challenges were made by Owen Coyle’s side.
2 minutes later Graham came agonisingly close to extending Swansea’s lead as his header was denied only by the cross bar.
Just before the hour mark Sinclair doubled the home side’s advantage from the penalty spot, after former Swan Darren Pratley brought down Angel Rangel inside the area, Clattenburg had no hesitations in pointing to the spot and Sinclair stepped up to calmly slot home his third penalty in as many home games.
On his first return to The Liberty since his summer departure, Darren Pratley had numerous opportunities to get the visitors back into the game however failed to test Vorm with his efforts. Now playing in a more attacking role to the one we became accustom to seeing whilst he was at Swansea, Pratley didn’t have the same influence on Bolton’s side as he did during his time in South Wales.
With little over 15 minutes remaining, Bolton were handed a life line when Danny Graham sliced his clearance and beat Michel Vorm to halve Bolton’s deficit.
Having conceded in such unfortunate circumstances, Swansea seemed a little shaky playing the ball out from defence at 2-1 up.
While fans could be forgiven for fearing a repeat of last weekends fortune, in which Swansea let a 2 goal margin slip, Swansea never lost control and had chances to restore their 2 goal lead with Sinclair’s effort hitting the cross bar as well as Graham seeing his shot cleared off the line.
After a fairly quiet first half in which the striker often found himself isolated, Danny Graham was imposing himself on the game with a lot more ease after the interval. Unlucky to score an own goal, Graham was rewarded for his offensive persistence deep into injury time when he secured all three points for the home side when he found himself one on one with Jaaskelainen, the striker remained calm to score his 4th goal in as many games.
Completing 100% of his passes, Leon Britton well and truly commanded the holding midfield role on Saturday, whilst Joe Allen continued to impress in midfield picking up man of the match following another game in which he demonstrated his abilities at this level with a stand out performance.
There were some fears ahead of the season that the league would prove too physically demanding for the 5ft 7 midfielder, however it is evident that Allen has spent extra time working on his physical strength to ensure he can compete with players of a bigger build.
Victory for Swansea means they sit 10th in the table going into their game at Anfield, where Brendan Rodgers’ side will be bolstered by the return of Kemy Agustien.