Taking a Liberty

Sweeping aside the crushing disappointment of failing to secure David Nugent’s signature, with all the promise of goals which that held, or adding to the list of loans on Rolando Aarons’ CV, Town secured 3 points in South Wales against a very good, if under par, Swansea side with resilience, no small amount of bravery and a swathe of good fortune.

Biting satire aside, the fact that our left back opened the scoring and could quite easily have scored a hat trick should not be lost. Scoring goals is a team effort and rather relies upon players being in a position to do so. For all Grant’s achievements with Town, and scoring at the rate he did in teams seemingly constructed not to was admirable, it is surely better to increase the possibilities for multiple contributors rather than be heavily dependent on one.

As Corberán’s philosophies emerge, and they are appearing as quickly as Wagner’s did, there should be genuine excitement for the future. In the absence of anything resembling effective communication from a hierarchy grappling with admittedly huge external issues, let us turn our gaze upon the transformation a young coach is implementing on the pitch.

When Josh Koroma struck the winner, there were 7 Town players in and around the box. At the home of one of the best sides in the division. Let that, as the tiresome saying goes, sink in.

That winner seemed inconceivable after a torrid opening 20 minutes when the visitors looked sure to succumb to the Swans’ unrelenting pressure. Within a minute, Hamer was having to make a save, all be it routine, and the home side exerted stifling control of the game with an aggressive and highly effective press which pinned Town in to their own half with little, if any, respite.

Hamer’s performance, which included 2 excellent saves, was blighted by some quite awful distribution which not only gifted possession but also momentum as eager Welsh midfielders fielded his miserable punts facing forwards and in acres of space.

With 3 central defenders in a formation we should get used to when facing twin strikers, Sarr struggled to adapt and was caught out of position too often and nearly presented a goal with a careless touch intended for Hamer. He improved immeasurably once he settled and played his part in repelling the increasingly desperate opposition towards the end.

A succession of excellently delivered corners threatened to overwhelm the besieged visitors but the hosts were guilty of over aggression at too many of them while the returning Schindler seemed to relish the aerial challenges.

When Town finally escaped Swansea’s stranglehold, Koroma was freed to run at the home defence to force a corner. It may have been complacency born of their superiority which allowed Bacuna to stroll in to the area unchallenged following the short corner and hit a not particularly threatening shot, but Toffolo’s instinctive flick turned it in to a lead as undeserved as it was surprising.

Rueing their failure to convert possession and pressure in to goals, Swansea were never quite the same force though they were handed an equaliser by a baffling penalty decision just after the half hour. Hamer, who had already kept his side in the game with a one on one save from Lowe, came to meet Smith whose attempt to convert was already sailing over as they came together.

The harsh award gave Swansea a reward they fully deserved and Ayew stepped up, via a dubious run up and with encroachment clearly occurring behind him, and scored his inevitable goal against the Terriers.

Equally inevitable was Swansea’s resumption of control, though the threat they carried seemed to lack the potency of the opening 20 minutes; Sarr’s restored discipline of position and tighter defending contributed to soothing the nerves of onlookers of blue and white persuasion, and the sanctity of half time was reached without what would have proven to be fatal concession.

Whatever Corberán said during the break saw the visitors transform from a team seemingly reliant on the failure of their opponents to translate superiority in to goals to one which finally achieved cohesion.

Moving the ball more quickly and confidently between players finding space and time and with the conviction that they could trouble the Welshmen, Town produced their best 15 minutes of the season. Eiting’s promise began to shine, while the excellent Pipa and Toffolo added their support to the hard working Mbenza and Koroma and Swansea’s previous dominance evaporated.

Chances were created with an excellent effort by Mbenza agonisingly evading Toffolo – again, note that our highest placed forward was our left back – as it crashed off the far post. Toffolo then missed two very presentable chances.

Swansea responded eventually and Ayew should have buried a close range header following a superb free kick delivery. Town’s relief at surviving that chance was followed by a terrible ball from Koroma which set Lowe free. As the ex-Wigan man bore down on goal, Hamer positioned himself well to parry his powerful shot. The rebound was sliced well wide by the same player, who seemed affected by his collision with a post in the first half after a very lively start to the game.

Town’s emergence as a team to be reckoned with created a very entertaining second half as the procession of home superiority became a more equal contest, and following the scares, Koroma made up with for his error with an excellent strike following incisive build up play down the Terriers’ right.

Having missed a few chances in previous games, the confidence his goal will bring should not be under estimated. Picking up the ball at the left edge of the area, the youngster found space among the panicking defence and swept the ball past Woodman in to the far corner with a strike for which Grant would have been rightly hailed.

Inevitably, Town faced a frantic last quarter yet Swansea’s potency and thrust seemed marginally less threatening as the minutes ticked by.

Stearman, Schindler and Sarr held firm and largely subdued the increasingly desperate Swans until a succession of corners late on and some flapping by Hamer threatened to undo the hard work. Kasey Palmer, who came on and injected some energy in to the home side, missed a very presentable chance at the far post as injury time loomed which let his former colleagues off the hook and ready to celebrate a win which entailed a fair amount of luck but, equally, a lot of promise.

Few will leave South Wales with maximum points, particularly when important players return and they resolve their issues with converting superiority in to goals, but it is the excitement of potential which should be taken from the afternoon’s efforts.

The potential of expanding periods of excellence beyond the 15 minutes on show here, the development of Eiting’s excellence, creating more and more opportunities as an attacking unit which may engulf teams far inferior to Swansea and the possibilities of a coach who has taken an unpromising and diminished group and imposed an expansive system which is emerging game by game.

Despite the failure to recruit before the deadline, and the suspicion that bungling was a factor, it is difficult not to be excited at the prospect of watching Pipa and Toffolo terrorising Championship rivals, the emergence of a genuinely creative midfield and the possibility of Mbenza’s redemption.

It may be wise to keep our eyes on the grass and let the back room shenanigans take care of themselves. 

2 thoughts on “Taking a Liberty

  1. Another great report you explain it all to me so well. Wish we could sit near you at the John Smith’s then I’ll always understand what’s going on 😂😂


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