Saturday 12th November 2022
John Smith's Stadium

HUD Huddersfield


SWA Swansea

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Huddersfield away Joel Piroe

Swansea City were forced to settle for a point in west Yorkshire as they played out a goalless draw with Huddersfield Town in the final game before the World Cup break.

Russell Martin’s side looked the most likely throughout boasting the lion’s share of possession and forcing Huddersfield keeper Lee Nicholls into a handful of important saves, but they just couldn’t find a way to break down the organised Terriers defence.

Michael Obafemi’s effort late in the second half which clattered the post was the closest anyone came to breaking the deadlock while Ryan Manning and Olivier Ntcham also had good chances.

Steven Benda only made his first save of the afternoon in injury time at the end of the game with Nathan Wood on hand to clear the follow-up effort off the line to prevent what would have been a smash and grab victory for the home side.

Ollie Cooper replaced Luke Cundle in the starting XI as Martin’s singular change to the team who suffered late heartbreak in midweek against Birmingham City. Cundle dropped to the bench where he was joined by Fin Stevens in place of Matty Sorinola, who missed out entirely.

After a minute of silence to remember those who lost their lives to conflict, the match started slowly with the Swans forced to exercise patience as they were confronted by a low block from the hosts and attempted to find a way to break the well-organised home defence.

A Matt Grimes cross into the box prompted a miscued clearance which almost fell to Joel Piroe and a ball in behind to Cooper caused panic in the best openings of a quiet opening 20 minutes.

Piroe shrugged off a challenge from David Kasumu and curled a left-footed effort which was probably going just wide, but Nicholls tipped away to be safe.

Harry Darling’s right-footed half-volley at the near post from a corner delivery was narrowly off target before Ntcham had an effort blocked after good work by Manning.

Jay Fulton was the first man in orange to hit the target when he brought a comfortable save from the Nicholls with his headed effort from Manning’s cross, and he made a much better save minutes later when Joel Latibeaudiere's header looked destined for the far corner of the net.

The best save of the first period came on the half-hour mark.  A clever bit of play from Manning saw the Irishman attempt to catch Nicholls out at this near post. He shaped as if to hit a deep cross but pulled a shot towards the near post, but the keeper got down to palm it away.

At the other end, set-pieces looked the most likely source of a goal for the home side with Sorba Thomas sending in some dangerous deliveries, but only ending in a half-chance for Michal Helik.

The final chance of the half went to the Swans. Darling got up highest to head goalward from a corner delivery but his effort was blocked.

Manning was first to register a shot on target in the second half. The work to get him the ball was excellent as Benda, Grimes and Nathan Wood showed great technical ability and composure to overcome the press and move it out of the back.

The ball was played down the Swans right through Cooper and Ntcham before it was worked to Manning at the back post, where his first time effort was beaten away by Nicholls.

That was the only chance in the opening 15 minutes of the second half and as the game reached the hour mark, Martin opted for a change bringing on Obafemi.

The substitute’s first action was to make a run in behind and reach Ntcham’s through ball – he turned it back to Manning but the left-footed cross was cut out. Minutes later, Ntcham lifted the ball over the crossbar from distance.

Huddersfield also made changes and substitute Duane Holmes registered the home side’s first chance of note when he dragged his right-footed shot wide of Benda’s upright with just over 20 minutes of the match remaining.

The introduction of Armstrong Oko-Flex gave the Swans a different dimension to their play as the West Ham United loanee looked to be direct and take his man on, but a number of balls into the box and shots were crowded out by determined defenders.

Fulton had a shot from distance which didn’t trouble the keeper while Thomas and Holmes were unable to make the most of a quickly taken free-kick. Obafemi might have done better when he broke with Oko-Flex and Cundle from the resulting corner.

The closest the Swans game to taking three points came 10 minutes from time. Cundle picked up a smart position between the defenders and was able to pick out Obafemi in the box. The striker fired against the woodwork, with Nicholls appearing to get a small but important touch.

This sparked a late surge from Martin’s men. Jamie Paterson, Manning, Cundle and Oko-Flex all got into good positions while Oko-Flex went down in the box and was booked for diving.

Benda made his first save of the afternoon as the game ticked over into the seven minutes of added time. He stuck out a leg to deny Danny Ward while Wood retreated to the line to clear the follow-up effort off the line.

Patterson’s drilled ball into the box was almost turned into his own net by Helik, but the Swans had to settle for a point.

Huddersfield Town: Lee Nicholls, Luke Mbete, Sorba Thomas, Jordan Rhodes (Duane Holmes 65’), Josh Ruffels, Kaine Kesler-Hayden (Danny Ward 65’), David Kasumu (Connor Mahoney 86), Jack Rudoni, Ben Jackson (Loick Ayina 86), Tom Lees (captain), Michal Helik.

Unused substitutes: Nicholas Bilokapic, Brodie Spencer, Brahima Diarra.

Swansea City: Steven Benda; Nathan Wood, Harry Darling (Kyle Naughton 70), Ben Cabango; Joel Latibeaudiere (Jamie Paterson 77), Jay Fulton, Matt Grimes (captain), Ryan Manning; Ollie Cooper (Armstrong Oko-Flex 70), Olivier Ntcham (Luke Cundle 70); Joel Piroe (Michael Obafemi 60).

Unused substitutes: Andy Fisher, Fin Stevens.