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Match Reports

Swansea City 0 Preston North End 1

5 April 2021

Preston North End won their first game in Swansea for 60 years, thanks to an injury-time own goal by home skipper Matt Grimes.

It was no more than the Lilywhites deserved as they played on the front foot from the off and dominated their lofty opponents and were rewarded right at the death when former City man Scott Sinclair saw a shot saved, the rebound coming off the midfielder and into the goal.

Interim head coach Frankie McAvoy made two changes to the side that grabbed a last-minute point against league leaders Norwich City in the previous game, with Daniel Johnson ruled out through injury - Ben Whiteman and Friday’s equalising goalscorer Brad Potts coming into the side, former Swan Scott Sinclair dropping to the bench.

With Alan Browne sitting out the last of his three-match ban and Johnson unavailable, Ryan Ledson was handed the captain’s armband from the start for the first time, whilst there were places on the bench for youth team full back Lewis Coulton, first team coach Paul Gallagher and, for the first time since injuring himself at the Liberty Stadium 18 months ago, Louis Moult was included in the 20-man squad.

The changes also came with a switch in formation; Welshman Andrew Hughes joining Liam Lindsay and Jordan Storey as a back three, with Potts in behind a front two of another Welsh-born player in Ched Evans and strike partner Emil Riis.

An early corner in the seventh minute from skipper Ledson, from the right, gave Whiteman two good chances to shoot from the edge of the penalty area, both times seeing Ben Cabango getting good blocks in to deny the Blues the opener.

It was a strong opening quarter of an hour for the visitors, with Evans unlucky not to be awarded a penalty after a tangle of legs with Cabango, with the front three were causing a lot of problems for the Jacks' back line.

And on 21 minutes, another gilt-edged chance came PNE’s way as van den Berg won the ball down the right and fed Riis, who turned the ball inside for Ledson in the right corner of the penalty area. He then passed the ball across for the onrushing Potts, who took a touch and drilled a right-foot shot from 15 yards just over the right corner of Freddie Woodman’s post and bar.

Five minutes later and there was a huge penalty shout for PNE as Woodman came right through the back of Riis when trying to punch away; he sent the Danish U21 international to the turf and he could very easily have been awarded a spot kick.

Potts again was denied on 33 minutes, this time by a brilliant save from Woodman, tipping over the No.44’s effort after a counter attack, with van den Berg, Evans and Ledson combining, the latter playing the killer ball in to allow him to shoot from ten yards out in the right-hand channel.

In the final minute of the half, Marc Guehi might have been sent off. Ched Evans got in behind him and was clean through, with no obvious cover, and the defender brought down the PNE No.26, but referee Peter Bankes opted only to show a yellow card, with Potts unable to test Woodman from the resulting free-kick.

The Evans-and-Riis partnership was at the fore again nine minutes after the break, with the experienced frontman holding the ball up and then weighting a ball through for the No.19 to put pressure on Guehi again, the defender needing to make a perfectly-timed, last-ditch tackle.

There was a third North End shout for a penalty 12 minutes into the half, as Ledson’s right-wing corner was headed across goal by Evans, falling for Potts, who on the turn smashed a half-volley at goal, with Jay Fulton getting a hand up to protect his face, the ball going through the hands and smashing him full in the mouth, resulting in him needing treatment.

Potts again was sent through mid-way through the second period, this time by van den Berg, as he raced down the left-hand channel, shooting in the box, only for home captain Grimes to make a vital block to deny him the opening goal.

For the final quarter of an hour, Sinclair came on for Riis for his first appearance at the Liberty Stadium since leaving the club for Manchester City back in 2012.

And the No.31 had a great chance to win the game with six minutes left as van den Berg was found down the right and he played it to Evans, who clipped the ball over for the attacker to head goalwards from eight yards out, going just over Woodman’s bar.

Cabango denied another substitute, Jayson Molumby, with two minutes left, after fantastic vision from Barkhuizen to find the Irishman’s run at a tight angle on the left as he drilled it goalwards, with the young defender blocking on the line at point-blank range.

And in the first of three minutes of added time, the goal finally came. It was a Barkhuizen throw in from the left, flicked on by Storey, falling to Whiteman, who hit a shot that deflected into the path of Sinclair, who got in a shot. Woodman did brilliantly to save at the feet of the former Swan, but the ball came back out and off Swansea captain Grimes and into the empty net.

The celebrations, similar to those seen on Easter Monday to Norwich, saw all the team together, as they enjoyed the club's first ever points at the Liberty Stadium.

Swansea City line-up: Woodman, Manning, Guehi, Fulton, Grimes (c), Lowe, Ayew, Hourihane (Dhanda, 80), Whittaker (Routledge, 81), Roberts, Cabango. Subs not used: Hamer, Bennett, Smith, Latibeaudiere, Bidwell, Naughton, Cooper.

PNE line-up: Iversen, van den Berg, Hughes, Ledson (c), Storey, Lindsay, Barkhuizen, Whiteman, Evans, Riis (Sinclair, 75), Potts (Molumby, 80). Subs not used: Hudson, Bayliss, Moult, Gallagher, Huntington, Coulton, Bodin.

Referee: Mr P Bankes.

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