Wednesday 19th April 2023 Stadium

SWA Swansea


PNE Preston

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19th April
Joel Piroe goal scores against PNE

Goals from Joel Piroe (2), Joe Allen, and Harry Darling secured Swansea City’s fifth win in six matches as they beat Preston North End in a dramatic contest at the Stadium.

Piroe opened the scoring inside two minutes, and Allen added a second shortly after the half-hour mark before Darling headed in a third just before the break.

Promotion-chasing Preston came out quickly in the second half. Tom Cannon got one back shortly after the break and Troy Parrott made it 3-2 with 20 minutes remaining.

An incident on the touchline which saw Allen – who had been substituted by this stage – and visiting manager Ryan Lowe sent off led to eight minutes of added time, and while the visitors continued to threaten, Piroe was able to seal the points with a cool finish beyond visiting keeper Freddie Woodman in the 96th minute.

Russell Martin had made three changes to the side that saw off Huddersfield Town on the weekend, with Ollie Cooper, Darling, and Allen coming into the starting line-up as Jay Fulton, Jamie Paterson and Oliver Ntcham dropped to the bench.

The Swans got off to the perfect start and led after just 68 seconds through Piroe.

The visitors’ launched an aggressive press straight from kick-off, but the Swans back four dealt with the pressure and worked the ball to Liam Cullen near the halfway line, and the forward had the whole pitch to run in to.

He broke forward, and picked out Allen on the overlap, who cut inside and found Piroe unmarked in the box. The Dutchman took a touch and slotted left-footed beyond Woodman for his 18th goal of the season.

That move set the pattern that was to continue for much of the opening half. When the Swans got by the first line of defence, which they were doing with regularity, they were often finding a spare man – often Piroe - in a central position with space to create something.

The Swans had another good chance inside 10 minutes. Piroe held off the challenge of Liam Lindsay to lay it off for Cullen, who picked out Manning. The Irishman, who was playing on the left of the front three, turned onto his right foot but shot straight at Woodman.

Preston hit back with a couple of half-chances. Cannon’s tame effort was dragged well wide of the near post, while two corners in quick succession came to nothing with Piroe heading away one and Andy Fisher catching the second.

And the Swans continued to look the most likely to score next.

Piroe forced two saves from Woodman – one with his left foot and one with his right – with the first a brilliant stop at full stretch to deny the Dutchman a second.

Cullen headed narrowly wide after Allen got to the by-line and lifted the ball back across the goal, before Allen deservedly made it two just after the half-hour mark.

The ball was cut back to Piroe at the edge of the box, who – despite being urged to shoot by the Jack Army – prodded it out to Allen who had so much space in the Preston box. He cut in onto his left and lifted the ball into the far side of the goal.

At the other end, Brad Potts fired over from a narrow angle after a miscommunication by the Swans had gifted the ball to the visitors.

But The Swans extended their lead further when Darling was left unmarked in the six-yard box to head in from Manning’s in-swinging free-kick to make it 3-0 before the break.

Harry Darling scores a header against Preston North End

Preston manager Lowe made three changes at the break, and whatever he’d said in the changing room during the interval clearly worked as his side began the second half with real intensity, with Cannon pulling one back for the visitors within two minutes of the restart.

They closed up the gaps in midfield and opted for a slightly more direct approach releasing substitute Robbie Brady, who wriggled away down the right before chipping the ball into Fisher’s gloves, and then Alvaro Fernandez lashed one wildly into the side-netting.

Cannon was then played through in the middle, but his attempt to win a penalty only earned him a deserved booking.

The Swans nearly got more joy from another Manning delivery, as he found Darling again, but this time the defender could only loop the ball into the air before Piroe had an effort blocked.

At the other end, some superb last-ditch defending by Ben Cabango took the ball away from Cannon after he looked to have got beyond the Wales international with just Fisher to beat.

But Cabango could do nothing shortly after when Daniel Johnson played in substitute Parrott, who got down the left of the defender and lifted it over the onrushing Fisher to narrow the deficit to one goal.

The Swans had a big chance to put the game to bed with just under 10 minutes remaining.

Darling’s ball released Piroe down the right. He managed to shrug off the defender and took it around Woodman, but his touch took him too wide to find the empty net.

Eventually, with the defence and goalkeeper set again, the ball was worked to substitute Olivier Ntcham, who flashed it over from just outside the box.

An incident on the touchline then led to Lowe and Allen – who had been taken off – being sent off. 

It took some time to sort out the incident and the match eventually restarted with eight minutes of stoppage time to play.

And, in the fifth of those eight minutes, Swansea put the game to bed when Liam Walsh managed to pick off a pass as Preston attempted to play out of the back. The midfielder stabbed the ball into the path of Piroe to set up a one-on-one which the striker calmly finished to seal the three points.

Swansea City: Andy Fisher, Harry Darling, Nathan Wood, Ben Cabango, Joel Latibeaudiere, Joe Allen (Jay Fulton 60), Matt Grimes (captain), Ollie Cooper (Olivier Ntcham, 75), Liam Cullen (Liam Walsh 60), Ryan Manning, Joel Piroe (Morgan Whittaker 97).

Unused Substitutes: Andreas Søndergaard, Jamie Paterson, Luke Cundle.

Preston North End: Freddie Woodman, Alvaro Fernandez, Ben Whiteman (Bambo Diaby 45), Liam Lindsay (Robbie Brady 46), Liam Delap (Troy Parrott 69), Daniel Johnson (captain), Jordan Storey (Ali McCann 45), Andrew Hughes, Ryan Ledson, Tom Cannon, Brad Potts.

Unused Substitutes: Dai Cornell, Josh Onomah, Ben Woodburn.