So after Tuesday night's near humiliation at the hands of Oxford, Albion travelled down to south Wales to take on an undefeated Swansea team. The Swans were looking very much the favourites from the offset following their shock win at Old Trafford on the opening day. The Liberty Stadium in recent years has not proved a happy hunting ground for the Albion, barring last season's 2-1 victory. We had shipped three goals in the two previous matches there. How history has a habit of repeating itself, as Swansea went on to score three.
Starting line up
The team saw two changes from the one that started at Southampton the weekend before, with ten million pound man Brown Idaye making his competitive début alongside fellow summer signing, Jason Davidson. Garry Monk named an unchanged home team from the side that beat Burnley 1-0 last week.
Before the game, I did think a draw was a possibility, with a win maybe a little too much considering the Swans' recent form. Across the bridge, we headed deep into the Rhonda, and then onwards to the obligatory pre match pint in the rather unfamiliar setting of a Harvester and Frankie and Benny's located in a retail park. These new stadiums aren't a patch on your old ones...
The game started off in the worst possible way when Nathan Dyer, after 87 seconds, gave Swansea the lead. Jonas Olsson lost his footing and allowed Dyer space aplenty, who didn't need a second invite to hit the ball in the net. Early goals are always a nightmare to concede and this seemed to flatten the players, but not the fans who straight away got back behind the team.
Swansea seized on this and went running towards the Albion goal (and fans) all guns blazing. Just a few minutes later, Wilfried Bony fired a 30 yard shot just over the bar; followed by a header of his also going over the bar. Bony nearly made it a hat trick of chances just as the game entered the 20th minute, but thankfully Crag Dawson managed to beat him to the ball following a Jonjo Shelvey through ball to avoid further chances. The fans were getting restless and the players sporting the new red away shirt were looking more confused. As expected, Swansea soon got the second goal.
Chris Brunt completely mis-hit a clearance sending it straight to Gylfi Sigurdsson who crossed only for it to be headed by Dawson straight into the feet of Wayne Routledge who, from the edge of the box, scored a stunning volley firing into the right hand corner.
Swansea nearly had a third goal courtesy of Jonas Olsson when he headed Routledge's cross away only for it to hit the crossbar. Swansea continued searching for goals and Sigurdsson scuffed a shot, sending it straight into Foster. Albion did, however, have their first chance of the game (40 minutes in I hasten to add), when Brown sent a shot goalwards only for it to be gathered with ease from Swans' keeper Lukasz Fabianski. The first half ended with Swansea having another chance but this time Routledge fired another volley just wide. Half time could not come soon enough.
After the break
The second half kicked off with Albion making a change, Sessegnon coming on for Dorrans and bizarrely enough, the Albion were to have first chance of the second half when Gardner sent a free kick into the wall – yes, I am clutching at chances. Normal service resumed from Swansea, with Dyer and Bony linking up well again, Routledge nearly assisting Sigurdsson who narrowly got defeated by Foster to the ball. Albion did have a corner just before the hour mark and Olsson sent his header wide.
A few minitues later, Swansea were awarded a free kick from a back pass by Dawson. This resulted in Bony having his first shot blocked on the line by Andre Wisdom and his second, from the rebound, saved by Foster. Swansea made a change shortly after, with Jefferson Montero coming on for Routledge with Montero nearly making an immediate impact who crossed in for Bony who sent the ball wide over. At this stage it was incredible to think Swansea were just two goals up, but Dyer soon made sure that the third goal went in when he sent the ball into the goal past Foster. The Albion responded with a double substitution, with Gamboa and Morrison coming on for Davidson and Brunt.
Sessegnon did have a chance for the Albion from 15 yards out, but this came back off the bar. Moments later, Gardner was next to have a chance when he went wide of the left hand post. However, it really was a case of too little too late by this stage with Swansea being more than comfortable in control of the ball and also the game. When the final whistle went, it was a relief for the travelling fans.
This is a game that will not be easily forgotten. It was a game full of negatives and very few, if any, positives. We have had, team wise at least, a relatively smooth start to the season; with Everton at home and an away trip to Tottenham on the horizon, perhaps a short break is ideal for us all as fans and players alike. Either way, whatever happens, we are in for a long season, but we never expected it to be an easy one, so until next time...
Come on you Baggies!
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