Tuesday 21 November 2017

Swans make their point on day of sadness and tears for Welsh football

Swansea 0 Aston Villa 0

Graham Clutton

On a day when the hearts and minds of so many were with the family and friends of Gary Speed, Swansea City gave Welsh football a lift with another vital point in their bid for Premier League survival.

The appalling news that the Wales manager had been found dead in his Cheshire home earlier in the day had shocked the Liberty Stadium crowd before kick-off.

Welsh internationals James Collins, Joe Allen, Neil Taylor and Ashley Williams, as well as Leon Britton, Jermaine Jenas, Nathan Dyer and Shay Given, who had played with or under Speed at Newcastle or Sheffield United, joined the pre-match tribute to one of Welsh football's favourite sons.

A minute's silence gave way to respectful applause followed by fans' chanting Speed's name. The emotional celebration lasted more than ten minutes. The game was feisty, but overshadowed by Speed's passing. In an unpleasant first-half battle, five players were booked and four more underwent treatment.

It made for difficult viewing, as did Swansea's attempt to stick to the intricate approach that has won them so many neutral supporters this term. Aston Villa, who followed Manchester United's lead last week by shutting down last season's Championship play-off winners at source, quickly established themselves and should have been a goal ahead at half-time.

Gabriel Agbonlahor was denied by Michel Vorm's smart stop at the near post, while Emile Heskey saw his far-post header deflected wide for a corner. At the opposite end, Swansea were toothless, with Danny Graham lacking support.

Strangely, having been out-thought and outfought for the best part of half an hour, Swansea had the best chance of the game 19 minutes from time when Mark Gower played in sub Leroy Lita.

The striker successfully rolled off the shoulder of James Collins, but dragged his shot wide of the target. The striker was set up by Scott Sinclair nine minutes later but his effort was denied by a fine save from Shay Given and, as hard as the two sides fought for a clinching goal, they never came closer than that. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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