Blues 1 – Swansea 3
Wednesday 8 July 2020
An evening that started well with a goal in the first five minutes, ended in abject defeat and a managerless club going into the last four games of the season only four points ahead of the relegation zone.
By “mutual consent”, Pep left two weeks before his due date. This was long overdue, like Zola before him the board dithered when it was pretty obvious that decisive action was needed for the good of the team.
Although the team had had a manger, they had been leaderless since the announcement of Pep’s impending departure, just before the resumption after the covid enforced hiatus. Pep had cut a forlorn, inactive figure going through the motions on the touchline.
One change from the side that narrowly lost at Fulham at the weekend. Back to 4-4-2, with Jukey replacing Bellingham, who had been out of sorts at Craven Cottage, missing three very presentable chance early one, before being substituted in an attempt to get every senior centre-back on the pitch at the same time.
But the change of shape raised concerns against a Swansea team renowned for working the ball neatly through midfield to feed wing-backs or a sharp front two of Brewster, on loan from Liverpool, and Ayew.
The worry was that the two in midfield would be overwhelmed. This proved to be the case, as did the inability of our two wide men, Bela and Crowley, to track back. Crowley will be a waste of talent until he learns the defensive side of the game or is moved inside where those responsibilities aren’t so pressing.
Yet we started well, pressing power play focussing on Jukey resulted in him heading in a goal from a corner.
But Swansea didn’t panic and kept playing their game, quickly gaining that ascendancy in midfield that had been a concern. They started feeding the ball in to the front two and the emphasis turned to how our defence would cope. Badly, as it turned out.
Pedersen failed to make much of a challenge at the far stick from a cross and the ball broke in the box for Brewster to sweep home the equaliser. Not the first time since the resumption that Pedersen has been found wanting on a deep cross into our box.
The second, just on the stroke of half time, also resulted from a basic clearance being fluffed, the inconsistent Clarke-Slater almost falling over himself as his sliced clearance allow Cabango the opportunity to fire home. The chance had come from a free kick that never was. But so it goes when you’re struggling for form and confidence.
The third, after bright start to the second half from Blues, with Bellingham replacing an out of sorts Hogan as we reverted to 4-5-1, saw Fulton standing on his own in acres of space near the edge of our area as he shot home a simple pass from a corner.
Blues huffed and puffed for the rest of the game, but Swansea were in complete control, with more chance of the away team adding to their tally rather than Blues pulling one back.
The only bright spot was a nice little cameo for fifteen minutes by Jayden Reid on debut, leaving the thought of why it’s taken so long for him to appear when it’s been claimed that we have nothing on the bench that could change a game.
On to Stoke on Sunday, a team now within striking distance of us – a six-pointer, I suppose. And them with Jack in goal.
The hope is that either a new leader can galvanise the team, or the possible points deductions for Wigan and Sheffield Wednesday save us.
Blues 1 – Swansea 3