Swans teeter as Cher­ries stay safe

Sunday Independent (Ireland) - Sport - - SOCCER - ED AARONS

IF Swansea City are to sur­vive this sea­son of highs and lows, they are go­ing to have to do it the hard way. Ryan Fraser’s first-half strike was enough to in­flict a third suc­ces­sive de­feat on Car­los Car­val­hal’s side, who have lost form just when it mat­ters most. From a po­si­tion of rel­a­tive se­cu­rity a few weeks ago, they are now in se­ri­ous dan­ger of slip­ping through the trap­door.

At least their man­ager, who cut a frus­trated fig­ure at the full-time whis­tle, can con­sole him­self with the fact that — with home fix­tures against Stoke and Southamp­ton to come — Swansea’s fate re­mains in their own hands.

Yet on this ev­i­dence, af­ter a sev­enth match in a row with­out vic­tory, they could be on bor­rowed time.

Given that his side had failed to win on the road since the vic­tory over Wat­ford in his first match af­ter re­plac­ing Paul Cle­ment at the end of De­cem­ber, it was no sur­prise to see Car­val­hal opt for a safety-first ap­proach to his start­ing line-up.

Fed­erico Fer­nan­dez was back at the heart of a three-man de­fence, with Nathan Dyer and Tom Car­roll also re­called af­ter the de­feat to Chelsea last week.

With their Pre­mier League sta­tus for another sea­son vir­tu­ally con­firmed even be­fore kick-off, de­spite Ed­die Howe’s protes­ta­tions to the con­trary, there was a car­ni­val at­mos­phere for Bournemouth’s last home game of the cam­paign, on a beau­ti­ful day on the south coast.

The home man­ager made two changes, with An­drew Sur­man part­ner­ing Eng­land hope­ful Lewis Cook in mid­field, as he at­tempted to halt a run of three straight de­feats.

Bournemouth’s in­tent was clear from the start and they al­most took the lead in­side the first 90 se­conds when Fer­nan­dez did well to deny Cal­lum Wil­son a clear-cut chance. Mike van der Hoorn should then have put Swansea ahead in the 12th minute af­ter an ex­cel­lent free-kick rou­tine, but As­mir Be­govic was there to deny him.

Wil­son was the next to waste an op­por­tu­nity af­ter a de­light­ful ball across goal from Fraser, but, prompted by Cook’s in­dus­try, Bournemouth con­tin­ued to dom­i­nate pro­ceed­ings.

Yet Swansea, and Al­fie Maw­son in par­tic­u­lar, were the ar­chi­tects of their own down­fall when they fell be­hind eight min­utes be­fore half-time.

A mo­ment’s hes­i­ta­tion from the de­fender — another po­ten­tial in­clu­sion in Gareth South­gate’s World Cup squad — al­lowed Wil­son to nip in front of him and Maw­son was lucky that the ref­eree, Kevin Friend, did not point to the spot af­ter he brought down his op­po­nent just in­side the box.

He was the first to re­act to Bournemouth’s quickly taken free-kick, but could only di­vert Fraser’s shot past a help­less Lukasz Fabi­an­ski with his head.

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