A committed Swansea, who rode their luck a little at times, overcame the dismissal of their primary attacking threat after just 11 minutes to earn a point they would have been happy picking up with a full complement of players.
A delightful day for statisticians proved a horribly frustrating one for the Terriers who racked up impressive numbers apart from the one which counts.
Facing ten men is never the advantage it appears and Swansea have form for resisting the best of attacks – few blank out an outrageously talented Spurs, for example – and old foe Carvalhal not only knows how to organise a team to keep a clean sheet at Huddersfield’s home, he didn’t even have to change formation to achieve another one despite the reduction in numbers.
Sitting back and offering virtually no offensive threat, Swansea denied the hosts space in important areas which, in turn, slowed Town down for too much of the extensive power play.
Neither wide man covered themselves in glory with crossing which ranged from poor to negligent as the red wall in front of them seemed to attract whatever type of ball – low, high, driven or floated – they attempted far too often. Operating down the left, Van La Parra was at his frustrating worst. Other than a jinking run which earned a (wasted) free kick on the edge of the area, he often interrupted the flow of attacks as effectively as the Welsh rearguard and consistently failed to use Malone’s running ahead of him.
It wasn’t the best of days for David Wagner, either. 9 men behind the ball was always going to slow the pace of the game and while leaving things as they were made sense in the first half, his eventual changes were far too late. The game was crying out for Williams’ aggression and power over Mooy’s more considered style – the Australian’s ability to dictate an already determined tempo was neither necessary or helpful – and Depoitre’s unsettling presence would have given Swansea much more to think about.
Replacing Pritchard, who has the ability to unlock defences in tight situations was an altogether puzzling decision, particularly as Van La Parra’s wastefulness was blunting forward movement far too regularly.
None of this would have mattered had the chances which were created been taken. Malone, inexplicably, missed a straightforward contact with the goal in front of him, Ince should have fed Mounié for an easy chance before heading against the post late on and Fabianski pulled off a great save from a Mounié pile driver, deflecting the shot on to the bar.
Wave after wave of attacks floundered with poor decision making, ineffective crossing and over elaboration and it slowly dawned that the man advantage was something of a poisoned chalice which forced the visitors in to a deep defensive block which they executed with considerable effort. It is to their credit that the Welsh side didn’t tire under the siege and, indeed, on their only meaningful venture in to Town’s box in the second half they could have compounded their host’s misery but for some poor control.
The sending off itself looked a straightforward decision though Hogg – who had a good game – was fortunate not to be booked in the same challenge, and Ayew’s lunge didn’t appear malicious, more clumsy. It could have been worse for Swansea, however, as Mawson, booked for a wild challenge which failed to connect with Pritchard was also lucky that a colleague took a time wasting booking which had much more to do with the ex-Barnsley man.
Unsurprisingly, the Swans took every opportunity to waste time and with all the substitutions taking place in the second half it was genuinely baffling that only 4 minutes were added on. Not that there was any evidence that a few more minutes would have broken the deadlock.
Frustrating as it was, the contest was also fascinating and quite excellent sport which kept the loud and supportive crowd enthralled to the end. The effort put in by both sides was creditworthy, and though a huge opportunity was missed by the home side, another point towards survival and results elsewhere compensated a little.
Next up is Crystal Palace, a team in trouble but with players – notably Zaha – returning and Town face another formidable task in the search for the 6 points likely to be needed for survival. Let’s hope they don’t have anyone sent off.