It seemed as if Town had got away with a generally poor first half performance before Lössl presented Swansea with the lead by making a mistake which will be punished at Premier League level. It would also be punished at Championship, League 1, League 2 and all the way down the pyramid.
The Swans, more progressive, aggressive and penetrating deserved their half time lead and would have gone in front much earlier but for an excellent Lössl save down to his right after Zanka had given the ball away to Abraham.
Sorely missing Mooy’s ability to dictate play and retain possession, Town strained to contain their hosts threat down the flanks – the widely touted Malone, in for Löwe following a couple of mistakes by the German, was regularly bypassed with balls behind him and his positioning looked on a par with Jason Davidson while his attacking forays rarely threatened.
For 25 minutes, the home side pressed relentlessly – Hogg was typically combative in response but evergreen Leon Brittan totally dominated to build a platform for his side’s first home win.
Leroy Fer was slightly fortunate only to see yellow after crashing in to Lössl very early on, but the aggression should have served as a warning to the visitors who simply couldn’t settle. Passing was either sloppy, too short or inappropriate with players regularly putting team mates under pressure and errors began to flow. Lössl got away with two poor attempts to find a red and black shirt before his costly error, Billing seemed half asleep and was caught in possession too often and the midfield battle was lost.
Perhaps frustrated that their control had not brought the goal it deserved, Swansea began to run out of steam after 25 minutes and Town stepped up their game for quarter of an hour and missed the best chance of the game when Ince, desperately needing a goal, fired well over from 8 yards from a Van La Parra assist. Taking the lead at that point – Ince also had a chance when put through by an excellent Lössl clearance but went down under pressure – would have entirely changed the complexion of the contest against a side who would have begun to feel the pressure of disgruntled home support.
The minimum requirement was to get to half time level, but Lössl’s brain fart – his decision to try to pass out was not only badly executed but unprofessional – robbed Wagner of the opportunity to change things and introduce Mooy’s qualities to a game rather short of composure.
As it was, Mooy replaced Hogg (who had been booked and always liable to attract a second) and one of his very first acts was to put in a tremendous challenge on Fer, only for the ball to bounce kindly for the Welshmen and Ayew lobbed Lössl with some aplomb before Abraham finished from close in and the contest was, effectively, over.
Mooy exerted an element of control over proceedings without reaching his normal heights, but Swansea were able to contain the visitors with increasing comfort. Smith and Van La Parra managed to get round the back to put balls in to the box but they were largely harmless. Van La Parra’s deflected shot rattled the top of the bar, but a goal never looked likely.
Depoitre battled away throughout against a solid home central defence, Kachunga was probably the pick of a disappointing Town side, but most will not look back on their efforts with much pride.
Despite the late first half error, the real turning point was Ince’s miss. Town rarely recover from conceding first but, conversely, they are good at seeing out narrow wins if they score first. The worry, of course, is that goal scoring is becoming a major problem and this needs, somehow, to be fixed.
Still, only Manchester United and Liverpool next.