Swansea City 3 - West Bromwich Albion 2

Date: Monday 8th May 2023 
Competition: Sky Bet Championship
Swansea City:
Fisher, Latibeaudiere, Cabango, Wood, Manning, Grimes, Ntcham, Cullen (Cooper, 61), Cundle, Paterson (Naughton, 73), Piroe
Unused subs: Söndergaard, Whittaker, Sorinola, Congreve, Darling
(4-2-3-1) Palmer 4.5, Furlong 4.1, Ajayi 6.3, Pieters 4.1 (Bartley, 79 3.6), Townsend 5.3, Molumby 4.9, Yokuslu 5.5 (Gardner-Hickman, 63 3.9), Wallace 5.4, Swift 3.7, Grant 3.0, Thomas-Asante 5.1
Unused subs: Griffiths, Rogic, Livermore, Faal, Malcolm
Manager: Carlos Corberán  4.8
Scorers: Cundle (26), Ntcham (66), Piroe (93); Yokuslu (13), Ajayi (54)
Referee: Keith Stroud (Hampshire) 4.5
Attendance: 20,294   Home Fans 4.9   Away Fans 6.0

Brendan Clegg:

A disappointing but not surprising end to the season as we surrendered the lead a couple of times then lost it with the last kick, even though the result was academic.

To be honest, I had no nerves going into it. I just couldn’t see the combination of results required happening. We didn’t really feel like momentum was with us or a genuine chance was there.

The lineup was fair enough and it was a game where we showed flashes of our best when we were in the front foot.

We should’ve been a goal up quickly with BTA missing a sitter.

Our opener was an example of our positive play though… from their goal kick we pressed and Semi, our centre back (!) was on the edge of their box helping to force the error with Swift selflessly passing to Okay. For a brief moment we were in the playoffs.

Swansea were brave and entertaining and the game seesawed but what I liked most was our directness. Wallace and BTA just had a go when they had the ball and on the break r looked threatening.

Unfortunately we conceded a really poor goal after about half an hour - I’ll call out Grant for not tracking and general powder puff defending from everyone to allow a soft equaliser.

Livid as it made me, I was more alarmed by Swift who looked to be dead on his feet and making fatigue type errors even as we rallied to be just about on top for HT.

Second half we came out flat footed and might’ve been 3-1 down in a couple of minutes with Swansea missing big chances.

We were rewarded for our directness soon after… Wallace ran the wing and played the percentages, eventually earning a corner from his positive play. And from that corner Semi lashed home and faint hopes were restored.

The next 20-25 minutes or so were the hardest to watch. We dropped to a low block, arguably got Okay off way too soon for TGH (Swift could’ve made way as he'd gone), made terrible decisions when in on goal and, in a period of standing off, allowed a soft equaliser. TGH looked to me like he didn’t close enough but he wasn’t alone… maybe Okay would’ve snuffed it out.

There was still time for more diabolical decision-making or quality as Wallace, Furlong, Swift, TGH and even Ajayi got into great positions but messed up with either the goal or a routine pass to a goal scoring opportunity being on for us.

Their winner was probably harsh on us but we had opportunities to clear the ball and, from where we conceded the free-kick, it was nearly as good as a penalty. That it was the last kick of the game all felt a bit apt really.

In the end we just weren't good enough in the match and whenever we took our foot off the gas we looked vulnerable.

To finish 4 points away from the playoffs is galling when we think about the careless points we've chucked away.

If we look at key points in the season there are so many what-ifs where those 4 points might've been found:

  • The first transfer window embarrassment which ultimately led us to taking a punt on an unfit Rogic instead of a quick, young attacker
  • Sticking with Button for so long when he was clearly not up to it
  • Sticking with Bruce for 5 games too many.

And then after Corberan had turned us around the ones that probably cost us a challenge for the 2nd automatic place and ultimately the play-offs:

  • The Phillips injury with his strength, discipline and ball retention being so important
  • The BTA suspension at a time when he was in red hot goalscoring form
  • A poor transfer window with Albrighton making sense on paper until we realised just how much his legs had gone and Chalobah when we still had Livermore on the books - why we didn't sign any level of proven striker instead remains a mystery
  • The Palmer injury at such a critical time
  • The Diangana injury
  • The O'Shea injury
  • And finally the Dike injury.

There are doubtless others. That we were even in with a shout of the playoffs shows you how poor the league was and I think both Sheff Utd and Luton were just able to manage the level with consistency without being anything like good teams.

As for us - who know what the summer will bring. I fancy Corberan to find a way to improve us but it's going to be really tough as we have few if any saleable assets. My main worry is whether administration comes sooner or later unless, by some miracle, Lai either sells us in shame or finds some investment and pays the loan back.

Marks for the game and season

  • Palmer 6 - Didn't have too much to do and not really at fault. 7 overall, we've got a solid championship keeper here with time to improve.
  • Furlong 6 - A few stray passes but overall was okay. 6 overall as I think Corberan improved him and he became more reliable. We'll struggle to improve on him.
  • Ajayi - 7 Didn't deserve to lose, was our best player by quite a bit. 6.5 overall for a season blighted by injury and then finding form after a spell out. I'd rather keep him but he might be one we have to sell. Would be a no-brainer for any promoted club, relegate EPL club or lower premier league club with a few million for a squad player.
  • Pieters - 5 Just not a physically strong as needed. 6 overall as he's given us a lot and been really reliable. Good servant, not a last payday blagger.
  • Townsend 6 - Tried to make things happen. 6.5 overall and another who looked better under Corberan. Partnership with Phillips really clicked. He's in his prime and is probably another that could command a fee from that market of promoted/lower EPL/relegated teams.
  • Molumby - 6 Battled away but lost control without okay. 7 overall, largely from his improvement under Corberan and a fair winner for fans player of the season.
  • Okay - 6 I thought he kept us together and we struggled when he went off. 7 overall and he has the quality to play higher but his fitness is a problem and we've never seen him having had a full pre-season. Would be another no-brainer for that small pool of clubs to sign for a few million but if we can keep him it'll be massive for us.
  • Wallace - 6 Direct and dangerous but erratic. At least played on the front foot instead of being safe and negative and we looked far more creative as a result. 6 overall. He was looking like player of the season but struggled for a dozen games as CC tried to find a Phillips solution. His durability has been impressive and hopefully he's got another big season in him.
  • Swift - 5 Big part in the goal but looked out on his feet at half time having done a bit of running. 6 overall - the numbers and quality are there but he's got to get a lot fitter and work harder in games to show it off.
  • Grant - 4 Apart from a couple of leg stretchers he was poor and ineffective. 4 overall - I'm afraid he stands out in most games and has actually only had a run of games as 4th choice on the left following injuries to Phillips, Grady and Reach(!). He needs a move and we need to move him on... never again should we hand out a 6 year contract. What a waste.
  • BTA - 6 Battled away and loads of running but never looked like he believed he'd score. 7 overall given what we paid for him and his development. There is so much there to like and he is still young enough... if we can create chances and develop his poaching then he'll be great for us but he is going to need help.
  • TGH - 5 Had a bit of a beast again. 5 overall - another caught in the trap of needing games but being too near the first team to loan out. Has promise but needs to mature. Given our finances we might have to rely on him more next season but I suspect if there is a sniff of an offer we might just take it.
  • Bartley - 5 Couldn't do a lot in 10 minutes. 5 overall as he went from meltdown under Bruce to redemption in the CC early games. He probably should've come back in to the team once fit but can you ever rely on him?

And the rest -

  • Dike - 5 Looks a long road back for him. I thought he did okay but never looked like a menace. Even if he gets back to fitness, will he be the forward we need? I don't see it, sadly.
  • Phillips - 6 Was just so reliable once CC got him into the team. Was it really worth brining him on in that game? Not sure he'll be back as the same player given his age.
  • Livermore - 5 Was as good as anyone in a lot of games (which says more about them than him) but the changing of the guard was needed.
  • O'Shea - 7 Overall. Still makes the odd error but is a warrior and leader whose presence would've ground out a few more points I'm sure. Might be one we can get a fee for.
  • Diangana - 5 as he was in and out. Unfortunate injury when he was starting to find a groove. Not sure anyone will take a punt on him but he should have enough to be an asset for us next year if we play on the front foot.
  • Reach - 4 I'm sure he's a great pro but other than a backup left back (and that's debatable) he offers little.
  • Chalobah - 5 Hasn't really added anything to us other than being a body. Not quite sure what he brings.
  • Rogic - 4 A couple of moments of class but overall hasn't been fit enough, quick enough or physical enough to meet the demands of the division. Let's hope he doesn't take the year option.
  • Button - 3 It's almost worth paying him off for the remainder of his contract or to help him find a move to a lower league. Can't even be trusted as a stand-in.
  • Griffiths - 6 Did okay but still needs time. Ideally he needs another loan move but we can't do that without bringing in a more trusted deputy.
  • Albrighton - 4 Looked a good signing on paper but did he do any sprints in his fitness test? Couldn't make an impact.
  • Kelly - 4 No doubt he's a good guy but it was a silly signing. Had we not learned from the Bryan debacle.

Of the other kids and loanees or anyone I've left out, I can't recall a contribution worthy of note. If we can get fees for Kipre (ultimately Cardiff have been rubbish) or Mowatt I'd sell them. We could do with a player like Cleary having a proper breakthrough season if given the chance.

Have a good break everyone. I fear the gallows humour might be needed for next season.

Didcot Baggie:

Just want to thank all the contributors to this forum, not least Brendan and Kev. Really appreciate you keeping all of us informed and with fair analysis.

In the end, the Bruce-era did for us, and its the Championship next season. Lot's of "what ifs" to ponder, but it may be a blessing in disguise as we would need a completely new squad to compete in the Premiership. To be honest we are going to need to rebuild to compete in the Championship.

Already looking forward to the trip to Home Park (!) next season.

Come on you Baggies!

Kev Buckley:

Have we seen the future: and is it the way Swansea play

Having made the last matchday of the regular season still in with a chance of extending the season, Corberan clearly went with his fittest starting XI which, co-incidentally, was his previous starting XI.

The early stages of the game were like watching a chess match, as neither side seemed to be prepared to lose possession of the ball and concentrated on moving it around, via short, sharp passes, in the hope that an opportunity for a telling forward pass would appear.

That approach, which, I think it's fair to say, is probably more honed within clubs like Swansea, and Mowbray's Sunderland, than it yet is at the Albion, does of course see you run the risk of losing the ball in your own third, something which Swansea, possibly by virtue of having nothing to play for, seemed more than happy to risk, and at times did seem to be treating the game as a training exercise for that approach.

In the fourth minute, Albion's season was summed up, after we got in down the right, with Molumby winning a challenge on the edge of the box, after which a ball was played in from the right across the Swansea goal, where it was met by Thomas-Assante who managed to miss a sitter.

Four minutes later, and news filtered through that the miss probably wasn't going to cost us anyway, as Millwall took the lead against Blackburn, although whether Ajayi's concentration had dropped as a result of knowing that, when he was sublimely nutmegged before the resulting shot was dragged wide across our goal, is open to question.

Swansea's continued attempts to not pass the ball more than about four yards unless a killer pass was on, saw them being pushed back further and further, and after they lost possession inside their own box, Swift looked likely to be the beneficiary via a shot on target, but chose to slide it sideways, from where an incredibly advanced Yokuslu was able to sweep it home. £p Ten minutes later and Blackburn did us a favour by equalising at the Den, which meant, that for the next two or three minutes, we were in the top six, but that ended after some direct dribbling at the left corner of our box drew in so many covering defenders that there was an unmmarked attacker who wasn't challenged as he swept the ball home.

By the time we put together the kind of pass-and-move passing move down the right that it has to be hoped is the future, - and who knows, we might even be able to think about doing, subject to having players who can do it on that flank, sown the left - which resulted in Swift failing to get off a shot, Millwall had gone 3-1 up, with Olly Burke getting their third.

As the half-ended, no goal news from Deepdale was still good news, although it was still going to take a big second-half turnaround to see us back in the top six again.

Swansea would have two shots, both resulting from us giving the ball away, but fortunately, both just off target, before Blackburn scored a second, which meant that just one more goal in both games would alter things again.

We got the one we needed after some pinball in the box after a corner saw the ball ricocheting towards Ajayi, who clearly didn't have time to remember that he was defender and so rifled one of the cleanest snap-shots you'll ever see, into the far side netting.

What is it with our defenders? Last week it was Townsend delivering a free-kick with a left-foot that would not have looked out of place on the end of Liam Brady's left leg, and now Ajayi?

Makes you think that there might be a decent attacking footballing side in that squad somewhere, if only we could attack down the left a little more often.

Five minutes after that though, it was starting to look as though Corberan would get to develop such a side in a division that would require it to attack, as opposed to in a division where survival would be the main goal, as we heard that Sunderland had taken the lead at Preston.

A Sunderland win would, of course require us to win by enough to overcome a large goal difference, but whether that was in the boss's mind when he swapped TGH for Yokuslu a minute later, or whether it was the added impetus of Blackburn drawing level at the Den, we'll probably never know. Maybe it was just a pre-planned, on-the-hour change?

Would the Turk have been sold the drop of the shoulder dummy, that Molumby brought, on the edge of our box, that allowed the attacker all the space he needed to fire home? Again, we'll never know, but what we did soon know was that Sunderland were now three-up.

We'd still create a few chances, BTA pulling one back for Swift, who appeared to shoot wide from the central edge, only to claim that there'd been a mitigating deflection. If there was, the ref didn't see it.

Bartley would come on, for Pieters, for a small cameo, although once O'Shea is fit, will either get anything more than a regular bench spot and the odd cameo in the future.

Blackburn would do all we had asked of them, by taking a 4-3 lead over Milwall with around five to go, not that it did Rovers any good either, given the Sunderland result, though there was still time for Swansea to take all three of the points we would have needed, as they curled a 90th-minute free-kick from the edge of the box around the wall and into an area that you might have hoped Palmer would have had covered.

If we can get some of the money the chairman owes us, let alone some of the money that he's never put in; and bring in some players who can affect games, possibly even scoring regularly; and get rid of some of the players who no longer seem to affect games, and get the players who we already know can affect games fit again, then who knows what another season in the second tier will bring.

I will never be one to say that "you can go up too early" but as we haven't gone up, I'm happy to say that we might be in a better state to do so, in a season's time.

Finally, I'd like to thank Brendan for all his reports over the season. I had hoped that my Kayo subscription would have allowed me to see many more games live, or at least as live, but they've been few and far between and, as a result, so have my reports. Maybe there's someone else out there who might knock one up now again. although if you are a robot reading this, can stick your generative AI efforts where they belong.

Along those lines also thanks to Finbarr and Adam, for keeping the site, and the BOING list going, at a time when websites and mailing lists are being replaced by soshall meeja's smiley-ridden echo chambers , and indeed to all posters (OK, and all the lurkers) still on the BOING list.

All the best for the close-season,


I just wanted to say thank you for the season long match reviews. I read them avidly and I hope very much to see you again next season.

It's been a poor season for many reasons, for me lack of good leadership has been the major fault. Our recruitment has been appalling for a very long time!

Anyway that's football, ups and downs! Thanks again, kind regards Chris.