STUB­BORN SWANS GET RE­WARDED WITH POINT

Wales On Sunday - - SPORT ON SUNDAY - AN­DREW GWILYM Foot­ball Cor­re­spon­dent an­drew.gwilym@waleson­line.co.uk

SWANSEA City picked up a hard-earned point as they frus­trated high-fly­ing Mid­dles­brough in this goal­less draw at the River­side Sta­dium. The Swans be­came the first side to take points off the Teessiders on their own turf this sea­son, even if they couldn’t also be­come the first Cham­pi­onship team to score here so far this term, in a fix­ture low on qual­ity and em­i­nently for­get­table in parts.

It has to be said that Swansea car­ried lit­tle threat of their own aside from a bright open­ing, but Gra­ham Pot­ter and his play­ers will be happy enough to emerge from a chal­leng­ing week with an­other point added to their tally against op­po­nents fan­cied for pro­mo­tion.

It was an­other re­sult forged out of per­spi­ra­tion rather than in­spi­ra­tion, and Swansea will cer­tainly want to make strides in terms of the qual­ity of their dis­plays, but they are be­com­ing an ob­du­rate and frus­trat­ing side for oth­ers to deal with.

Again a solid de­fen­sive base laid the plat­form as skip­per Mike van der Hoorn, Joe Rodon and Con­nor Roberts stood out as the hosts were lim­ited in terms of gen­uine sights of goal and, while Erwin Mul­der had saves to make, they were made with rea­son­able com­fort.

It was a sec­ond clean sheet in the space of a week, although Swansea now have one win from their pre­vi­ous seven league games and have failed to score in four of their last five Cham­pi­onship fix­tures.

As had been the case at Stoke in mid­week, Swansea started well and put their hosts on the back foot.

Matt Grimes and Ge­orge By­ers were busy in mid­field and linked well with Wayne Rout­ledge and Oli McBurnie.

But the first chance went the way of the host as Martin Braith­waite’s smart pass teed up Stew­art Down­ing for a drive that Mul­der par­ried.

The Swans were soon back on the front foot, lovely work from Grimes and Roberts found McBurnie eight yards out, only for the header to strike Ryan Shot­ton and fall into the grate­ful arms of Boro goal­keeper Dar­ren Ran­dolph.

An­other headed chance fell the way of the vis­i­tors in the 15th minute, Rout­ledge’s cross was nod­ded sky­wards by Daniel Ayala and Martin Ols­son should have done bet­ter as he headed straight at Ran­dolph from the fol­low-up.

Boro man­ager Tony Pulis was unim­pressed by what he was see­ing, and moved Braith­waite up along­side Britt As­som­ba­longa, and from that point the game be­gan to turn in the home side’s favour.

Ge­orge Sav­ille’s su­perb strike clipped the bar with Mul­der beaten, be­fore Rodon was in the right place to block Ayala’s goal­bound ef­fort af­ter Adam Clay­ton’s scuffed strike had run through to the de­fender.

Mul­der then de­nied As­som­ba­longa as the pres­sure in­creased while, at the other end Grimes’ in­swing­ing cor­ner threat­ened to find the net as Ran­dolph pushed over.

Sav­ille then threw him­self to the deck in the area with By­ers in close

at­ten­dance but, at the end of a week where Swansea have been on the end of poor de­ci­sions, Si­mon Hooper cor­rectly booked the mid­fielder for div­ing.

It was far from clas­sic fare, and it was summed up when Ols­son dragged hor­ri­bly wide af­ter a nice ex­change of passes with Kyle Naughton.

Pot­ter made an al­ter­ation at the break, tak­ing off By­ers to in­tro­duce Tom Car­roll as part of a reshuf­fle which saw Swansea go to a 4-3-3 with McBurnie on the left and Bar­rie McKay through the mid­dle.

But Boro re­mained on the front foot and Swansea had real dif­fi­culty keep­ing the ball with­out McBurnie through the mid­dle.

A teas­ing de­liv­ery across the six­yard box from Shot­ton just evaded As­som­ba­longa, while Van der Hoorn re­cov­ered well to snuff out Braith- waite as the Dane threat­ened to head in on goal af­ter a Swansea er­ror.

Tom Car­roll struck the bar with an over­hit cross from one de­cent Swansea counter, started by an in­tel­li­gent switch from Roberts.

On the hour mark, Dan James re­placed Rout­ledge just as the vis­i­tors were hav­ing a bet­ter spell, only for a poor pass from Grimes to al­low Braith­waite to es­cape and peg Swansea back.

Still, for all the lit­tle glim­mers of prom­ise, there seemed lit­tle prospect of ei­ther side find­ing a win­ner with nei­ther goal­keeper hav­ing a save of note to make dur­ing the sec­ond pe­riod.

The hosts made one fi­nal push as the fi­nal five min­utes ar­rived, but their sus­tained pres­sure was dealt with as Swansea emerged with an­other cred­itable re­sult away from home.

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