Passive Town pay penalty

It is some consolation that despite being overwhelmingly outplayed in a disappointing 2nd half, Town’s unbeaten run continues as does their unlikely challenge for a play off place.

Swansea’s hunger for possession was known and predictable as were the recent failures they have suffered despite quite astonishingly high numbers in control of the ball and had the second 45 followed a similar pattern to the first half, Town would still be in the top 6.

Unfortunately, an enforced change of personnel at half time, with goal scorer Sinani being replaced by Scott High, seemed to unhinge the hosts’ dynamics and they were simply incapable of escaping the stranglehold Swansea created with a higher quality of possession than their first half efforts.

There was an air of possession for possession’s sake about the men from South Wales in that first 45 and most of it fizzled out on contact with Town’s solid back four. Nicholls had to make one very good save following an effort by Manning which was the result of a fortunate run of the ball rather than the conclusion of a 35 pass move from back to front.

Town’s patience and discipline allowed them to easily cope and despite their own forays forward being relatively limited, they looked far more likely to score than the visitors and duly did on 15 minutes.

It was just reward for an energetic start which pushed the visitors backwards and a high press which panicked them in to errors. O’Brien rushed his former colleague Hamer in to a wild clearance, and then brought an excellent save from him with an effort which looked destined for the top corner.

The subsequent corner was put in to the net by Koroma but he was offside after Pearson had won the aerial battle.

The Terriers’ superiority in the opening 15 minutes was rewarded with the lead when Pearson’s excellent ball forward to Ward was expertly taken by the striker and, in one movement, he released Koroma down the left and carried on to the penalty area to receive the ball back. Ward’s effort was blocked and Hamer denied O’Brien again with the follow up only for the ball to deflect to Sinani who couldn’t miss.

The reversal prompted an improvement in the Swans and the aforementioned Nicholls save was made soon after the goal, but the home team appeared very comfortable with defending the visitors rather rambling possession.

Soaking up the pressure, such as it was, with ease it was only a matter of time before the home side broke forward again and an excellent move just before the half hour should have seen a doubling of the lead and a completely different game would have ensued.

Ward was at the heart of the move again with a superb take and turn followed by an inch perfect ball to Thomas who fed the rampaging O’Brien in the box only for Hamer to thwart his former team mate with a remarkable save which was undoubtedly a turning point for his team’s fortunes.

An entertaining half with Town deservedly in the lead seemed to augur well for the hosts but Sinani’’s injury, and the absence of Holmes to provide a like for like solution, derailed the team to such an extent that escaping with a point became cause for relief.

For their part, Swansea became far more potent in possession and, since they had the ball almost uninterrupted, it was always likely that Town’s increasingly desperate resilience would break.

The visitors’ intensity also improved substantially with their assaults on Town’s defence having far greater purpose than their efforts before the break. Town had no answers to their opponents’ movement and precise passing to the consternation of a large crowd enticed by the offer to watch for a fiver.

That Town lasted until the final quarter was far more to do with the heroics of Nicholls, who had to make many saves and interventions, and the rugged determination of Pearson who blocked and tackled throughout to pull his colleagues out of self inflicted trouble.

Poor Scott High, who was sent on to do a role which looked like duplication, suffered a torrid half which included giving the ball away twice in ludicrously dangerous areas, one of which led indirectly, but indisputably, to Swansea’s deserved and overdue equaliser.

Town were simply unable to escape out of their own half. Ward, excellent in the first half, was isolated and superfluous, the midfield chased shadows as their superior opposition passed them in to oblivion and having been starved of the ball for such long periods, brief moments of possession seemed to come as a surprise to too many and given away with startled regularity.

As he admitted post match, Corberán made the wrong call at half time but there was more than a hint of too much hindsight and insufficient action taken to rectify the error. Hogg, who will need time to get fully back up to speed, should’ve been replaced for a more progressive option. On at least 3 occasions, the returning skipper halted rare moments of promise with a backwards pass. 

Not that he was alone. Only O’Brien, with some scintillating breaks, played with bravery and risk. The introduction of Pipa produced better things on the right at times, though it moved Thomas over to the left in place of the disappointing Koroma and minutes after the switch, the Welsh international missed a tackle which allowed his opponent to feed Downes for an excellent finish to equalise.

Corberán then went two up front after the equaliser but not before Swansea nearly took the lead with an effort which Nicholls did well to keep out. Rhodes arrival, for the last 5 minutes and injury time did result in some long overdue pressure from the home side and they proceeded to ask decent questions of Swansea’s under worked keeper and defence.

Hamer produced yet another save to deny O’Brien, who must have been heartily sick of him, and the final flourish in search of an unlikely and undeserved winner did, at last, provide some entertainment for a restless home crowd.

The final act, however, saw Swansea come close to taking the 3 points which few would have begrudged as Pirhoe headed just wide with Nicholls scrambling.

One point closer to survival and likely safe before the Spring is not to be sniffed at, but it wasn’t a day upon which that Corberán will look back fondly. Far too late in reacting to a game in which his team were barely competing, hopefully it is a lesson learned.

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