Lucky Leeds Scupper Scintillating Swans with Late Equaliser in Four Goal Liberty Thriller

A point away at Birmingham last Friday felt like a gift from the Gods for the Swans after being outplayed all night, but a point at the end of this pulsating fixture felt like scant reward as Potter’s young side dominated early season favourites Leeds United.

A thrilling encounter saw Oli McBurnie score twice against his hometown club to put the Swans in front but the home side were pegged back first by Kemar Roofe and then ex-Swan Pablo Hernandez. There was very nearly a dramatic late winner but Bersant Celina could only fire straight at Peacock-Farrell in the Leeds goal after bursting through with just minutes remaining.

All the talk before the game centred on maverick manager Marcelo Bielsa and how he could – perhaps should – have been in the home dug-out. The talk also suggested that Bielsa’s unbeaten Leeds would sweep aside a Swans team licking its wounds after that mauling at St Andrews last time out.

It just goes to show though: talk is cheap!

For my money I would rather the steady progress under a young, thoughtful coach like Potter rather than the spectacular short termism of an incendiary and unpredictable character like Bielsa. And as for Leeds sweeping the Swans aside and cruising to a fourth straight victory…well…that particular script need rewriting after a first quarter that saw the home side establish real dominance before taking a deserved lead.

Plotting Potter’s Picks 

Potter appeared to relish the opportunity to test himself against his illustrious opponent and he struck the first tactical blow with a surprising team selection that raised more than a few quizzical eyebrows.

Potter looked to solve the soft centre evident against Birmingham by handing Leroy his first start after several months out with a serious Achilles injury, the imposing midfielder replacing the struggling Tom Carroll in the line up. But it was the ploy of playing Connor Roberts in a right wing role that caught the attention.

With Roberts pushed forward – probably to provide a more solid presence on one flank and also nullify the threat of Barry Douglas on Leeds’ left – Joel Asoro dropped to the bench and Kyle Naughton came in for his first start of the season.

Potter’s changes clearly had the desired effect and the home side started confidently, shutting down any Leeds forward motion and breaking with pace and precision.

Nothing epitomised this more than Joe Rodon smartly intercepting and then playing a delicious ball between two baffled Leeds midfielders only for the return pass to just escape him and run over the touchline for a throw.

The young centre half spurned a great chance to opening the scoring too, thumping a header down into the turf and over the bar after connecting with a teasing corner from Celina.

With a solid base at the back, Roberts providing an effective outlet on the right and Celina pulling all sorts of strings in midfield the Swans were establishing a stranglehold, egged on by a Liberty crowd enthusiastically responding to the attacking performance the home side was serving up.

We’ll Take the Lead – We’ll Sing on Our Own

The atmosphere was enhanced by a packed away end too – but the rowdy throng of Leeds fans were soon silenced as the Swans deservedly grabbed the lead just before the 25 minute mark.

It started deep in the Swans’ own half with Celina leading a lightning break, powering forward forward before passing neatly to McKay wide on the left and then taking the return ball in his stride and picking out the perfect pass for McBurnie. The lanky Scot took long range aim and launched a right footed shot that Peacock-Farrell got a hand to but couldn’t prevent nestling in the back of the net.

That goal was just desserts for McBurnie who’d put himself about from the first whistle. It was also a classic example of what Potter’s side has in its locker – swift, counter attacking football led by precocious young forwards.

Bielsa responded soon after with a tactical change of his own, hauling off Lewis Baker before the half hour mark and replacing him with the more all action Kalvin Phillips. However, it did little to immediately stifle the Swans’ momentum as Celina came within inches of doubling the lead after McBurnie had picked off a defender’s loose pass and played in his teammate.

And Celina came even closer a few minutes later as another lightning fast move teed up the attacking midfielder and his impudent, imaginative chip just escaped the far post.

As close as it was the Swans were made to pay for the miss and the failure to add to their lead just a minute later as Leeds caught the home side cold with a quick free kick; Roofe won the set piece initially and didn’t hang around admiring his handiwork as the rolling ball was played forward and worked out to Jamie Shackleton. With the Swans defence caught out Roofe had the simplest of tasks to run on to Shackleton’s pull back and stroke high into an empty net.

The equaliser was well against the run of play and coming just five minutes before the interval it was a bitter blow for the home side.What was more galling was that the referee Andy Davies allowed Leeds to get away with a rolling ball on this occasion whilst also allowing Leeds to block every single quick Swans free kick throughout the evening.

On the positive side it was heartening to hear the Jack Army immediately get behind its side rather than bemoan the goal or apportion blame. And despite the disappointment of failing to hold onto the lead the Swans players trotted off for the half time cup of tea with the welcome sound of rapturous applause ringing in their ears.

Any worries that the young Swans side would give in to disappointment and allow Leeds to take control after their equaliser were quickly dispelled in a devastating start to the second half.

Celina again threatened but his chip over the keeper couldn’t find the head of a Swan to apply the finishing touch into a gaping net.

That failure was put right moments later as McBurnie’s sensational header restored the Swans’ one goal lead, and again it was a goal that was applauded as much for its creation as for its significance to the scoreline!

Mike van der Hoorn started it, the strapping centre half steaming forward and after covering three quarters of the length of the field he watched McBurnie take over, shielding the ball before playing it out wide. Rather than retreat van der Hoorn carried on into the box, creating space for McBurnie and when Olsson swung his cross into the box the gangly striker rose majestically to head in.

What. A. Goal.

Going in for the Kill

The Swans scented blood and stormed forward searching for a third. Barrie McKay almost bagged it too, connecting beautifully with a Celina cross as it came across him but his effort flashed past the right hand post.

McBurnie met McKay’s pass and looked on in anguish as Peacock-Farrell pushed the effort wide to deny the striker his hat-trick.

Potter looked to turn the screw even further, bringing off McKay and introducing the threat of jet-heeled Jefferson Montero, whilst Bielsa responded by hooking roof and bringing on Patrick Bamford. And it was the Leeds substitution that seemed to be the more telling as the away side started to grind themselves back into the contest and then assume a deal of control.

A dangerous ball across the Swans box went unfinished and then a wicked free kick into the box was decisively headed behind by the hard working Jay Fulton.

As time ticked on the Swans fell deeper, seemingly content to sit on their lead,  and Leeds pressed forward looking to preserve their unbeaten record if not their 100% one. Their cause was further helped when the exhausted Fer – an absolute giant in the middle of the park all night – was reluctantly brought off with 15 minutes remaining, replaced with the diminutive Tom Carroll.

Editor’s Tweet at 2-2

Leeds poured forward and the pressure mounted; Rodon made his first mistake of the evening, a loose pass that put his team in trouble until the resulting pull back was hacked out for a corner. Alas young Joe wasn’t so lucky with his second mistake of the evening minutes later, although his senior centre back partner van der Hoorn was more culpable for the second Leeds equaliser of the evening.

A by this point rare Swans raid was repelled and the ball played out to the touchline where, despite being on halfway, van der Hoorn fatally chose to dive in. Bamford escaped the ill timed lunge and left the big Dutchman trailing in his wake…Rodon failed to intercept the pull back and there was Pablo Hernandez to stroke the ball in the bottom corner.

Again, despite the disappointment the home crowd simply redoubled its efforts to support a Swans side that had given everything in an absorbing and massively entertaining encounter, and that loyalty was so nearly rewarded with a late winner with that Celina chance. Peacock-Farrell denied the Swans midfielder with his legs but his task was made easier by the fact Celina shot straight down the middle rather than placing the ball to either side of the keeper.

That miss meant it was two points dropped but that tinge of disappointment paled into insignificance as the home crowd saluted the Swansea players at the end of an exhausting, physical and damn entertaining battle with one of the strongest outfits in the division.

It bodes well for the future and shows just what this Swans team is capable of on any given day.


ATFV Man of the Match: Connor Roberts excelled in an unfamiliar role, Leroy Fer was a phenomenal presence and Bersant Celina pulled more strings than a Muffin the Mule tribute act – but Oli McBurnie gets the award for his all action display, tireless running and superbly taken double strike

ATFV Moment of the Match: The only thing missing as Mike van der Hoorn charged forward in the build up to the second goal was a rendition of Men of Harlech blasting over the Liberty’s dodgy speakers – stirring stuff!

ATFV Match Thoughts: I don’t think anyone outside the Boardroom will truly miss the Premier League if this is what we are treated to every week! It was raw, it was competitive and it was full to the brim with exciting attacking football. The Swans should have won it, could have lost it, ended up drawing it; whichever way it had had gone not a single Swans fan would have found cause for complaint in a performance that was the perfect response to the lame showing against Birmingham.

ATFV Final Word: A word on Graham Potter; upon his appointment there were valid reservations given his lack of experience at this sort of level but he’s already come up against some shrewd and experienced operators this season – and he hasn’t been found wanting. He’s learning and adapting just as quickly as his young charges and that brings great hope for the future.











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