Barnsley 0-1 Swansea: Ayew puts the Swans in control

Ayew’s first half finish was enough … The post Barnsley 0-1 Swansea: Ayew puts the Swans in control appeared first on Football365.

Barnsley 0-1 Swansea: Ayew puts the Swans in control

Swansea kept Barsnely at bay as Andre Ayew’s first half strike earned them a valuable victory in the first leg of their Championship play-off semi-final.

Ayew produced the game’s only moment of class six minutes before half-time in the first leg when he curled home a crucial goal for Steve Cooper’s side.

Swansea, who will defend their narrow advantage on Saturday in the return leg at the Liberty Stadium, owed much to goalkeeper Freddie Woodman’s brilliant second-half save, while the Yorkshire club also struck the crossbar late on.

An uplifting sense of expectation filled the stadium before kick-off, with around 4,500 Reds fans allowed back in to watch their side for the first time since March 2020.

The match-day announcer had perfectly captured the mood. “It gives me great pleasure to be able to say this for the first time in 436 days,” he said. “Welcome to Oakwell!”

It was the first time Barnsley head coach Valerien Ismael, appointed in October last year, had walked to his dugout in front of a crowd and he received a rapturous reception.

The 45-year-old has transformed Barnsley from relegation candidates to Premier League hopefuls in seven months, while Swansea have reached the play-offs for the second-consecutive season.

The home side were first to threaten when fit-again skipper Alex Mowatt’s effort curled off target.

It was fast and furious, but low on finesse and the first moment of quality provided Swansea with the breakthrough in the 39th minute.

Ayew received Kyle Naughton’s pass down the right channel and his sharp turn inside gave him space to curl a sweet left-footed finish inside the far post for his 18th goal of the season.

Barnsley responded, but defender Michal Helik’s header lacked power and was easily gathered by Swansea goalkeeper Woodman.

Reds forward Carlton Morris replaced Dominik Frieser at half-time and had an instant impact as his shot was saved by Woodman, who then superbly denied Callum Brittain on the rebound.

Mowatt’s free-kick was saved by Woodman as Swansea were swept on to the back foot, but the visitors weathered the storm.

Swansea’s on-loan midfielder and former Barnsley captain Conor Hourihane’s free-kick was tipped away by Brad Collins and Jamal Lowe curled an effort just off target.

The visitors did all they could to slow the game down and their time-wasting tactics became more pronounced. With 10 minutes left it was all going to the Welsh side’s plan.

That was almost undone in the closing moments when Carlton Morris turned the ball goalwards from Mowatt’s corner, only to see his curling effort hit the crossbar.

Swansea survived and extended their unbeaten run against Barnsley to 17 matches.

The Reds beat the Welsh club on penalties in the League One play-off final in 2006, but their last victory against them over 90 minutes was back in 1983.

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F365 says: Dike the hero despite Ayew’s Swansea winner

Swansea’s Ayew scored the winner but … The post F365 says: Dike the hero despite Ayew’s Swansea winner appeared first on Football365.

F365 says: Dike the hero despite Ayew’s Swansea winner

Andre Ayew scored the winner but Daryl Dike scored with us all. This was such good fun.

There are cult heroes and there’s Daryl Dike. This was the first opportunity the Barnsley fans have had to pay hommage to their 6’1”, 220 pound Oklahoman, and boy, did they make the most of it. They arrived at Oakwell with their Star-Spangled Banners, chanted his name and aimed Wayne’s World “we are not worthy” gestures in his direction.

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In short: they love him because he bloody loves it. Bulldozing into the backs of defenders and looking at them on the floor with disdain, waving his arms in frustration as he’s penalised for the latest assault, and smiling all the while, clearly loving every second of it.

If Youri Tilemans’ strike on Saturday secured his side’s status as the people’s club of the Premier League, there’s a stong case for Barnsley being the the Leicester of the Championship. There’s a lot to like about them, from the improbability of a promotion push having stayed up last season through an injury time winner, to their enigmatic manager, Valerien Ismael, and the manic football he has them playing. Add Dike and the raucous Tykes fans in the mix and you’ve got quite the soulful soup to warm the cockles of the neutrals.

And it felt a bit like the FA Cup final. Just as it was Chelsea vs all, very few people watching will have been rooting for Swansea. It may well have been grudging admiration then which met Andre Ayew’s goal, but it was well earned.

To describe the game to that point as ‘bitty’ would have been kind. It was great fun – Dike and the crowd saw to that – but the standard was pretty poor.

It was Kyle Naughton and Ayew – with over 250 Premier League appearances between them – who combined for Swansea. Naughton clipped a clever ball in behind for Ayew, who had dropped back to get onside, before the Ghanaian cut inside onto his left foot and curled the ball into the far corner. It was a beautifully composed finish in a game of *looks up antonym of composure* agitation.

That’s the way Barnsley like it. They thrive on the blood-and-thunder football; every game feels like a cup tie. Lots of long balls to the big man, with bodies in and around him to pick up the second balls and short shrift for opposition players who dare to try and play what most would now consider ‘normal’ football.

But a 20-minute spell at the start of the second half besides – in which Barnsley did come close to pummelling the door down – Swansea coped very well.

Their pair of 20-year-old centre-backs, Ben Cabango and Chelsea loanee Marc Guehi, dealt brilliantly with Dike; engaged in just the right amount of shithousery. And Newcastle loanee Freddie Woodman relieved pressure superbly in goal. It was a professional Swansea display against a side who have consistently made the teams they have played against this season stoop to the realms of amateurism.

Dike, Barnsley and their fans made this game, Swansea won it; it was impossible not to enjoy it. Here’s to more of the same.


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