Play-off Preview | Swansea City v Brentford

26th July
First team
Brentford home play-off preview graphic

Having sealed a play-off spot in the most dramatic of fashions, Swansea City will look to carry their late-season momentum into the first leg of their semi-final against Brentford tonight (6.30pm).

Steve Cooper’s side set up a two-legged tie with the Bees thanks to their late heroics in the 4-1 win over Reading which, allied to Nottingham Forest’s 4-1 loss against Stoke, saw the Swans finish sixth in the final Championship table.

When the season restarted in June, Swansea had been 11th in the standings, some seven points behind the Forest side they would eventually usurp in the top six.

A run of four wins from their last six games powered them into the reckoning, and means they face Brentford on a good run at a crucial time of the season.

But Cooper and his squad will not need any reminding of the quality of the outfit they face today and on Wednesday.

The Bees won seven-straight games after the restart, and came agonisingly close to going up automatically. They also won both regular-season meetings between the sides.

But play-off football – and this will be Swansea’s seventh experience of it since its introduction in 1986 – is a very different beat and two fascinating tussles await in SA1 and West London.

Team news

Reading (A) Routledge Brewster FT

The Swans are waiting on the fitness of Wayne Routledge and Mike van der Hoorn after the pair picked up injuries in the win over Reading.

Kyle Naughton is absent as the serves the final match of a three-game ban, meaning he will be in contention for the second leg.

George Byers, Freddie Woodman, Joe Rodon and Ben Wilmot are all set to miss out through injury.

Pre-match views

Reading (A) Cooper 3

Steve Cooper: “I’ve read things about us scraping into the play-offs, but you can’t do that after 46 games. We deserve to be there.

“I know it was dramatic, but you get what you deserve. The boys have been brilliant and the supporters have backed us through little runs where we have not won as much as we would like.

“We have never changed our way of playing, and we have never stopped believing in the players, especially the young ones.

“We have stuck to our guns, you could see the other night where we needed three goals, we did not boot the ball forward, they came from the way we play and that pleases me more than anything.

“We are going into this next couple of weeks with everything we have got. We are backing ourselves and we need to thrive on it and enjoy it. There is everything to go for.”

Thomas Frank: “It hurts (not to get automatic promotion), that is the emotional part of it.

“But this is football, and life. Things happen that you cannot explain, but things are never straightforward.

“We need to go again, to pick ourselves up. We cannot sit and cry too long because that never helps anything.

“We have to make sure we are ready.”

Remember the last time?

Swansea City and Brentford have previous when it comes to the play-offs, and it took a late Sam Ricketts goal to earn the hosts a draw when they faced off in the first leg of the League One semi-finals back in May 2006.

Then, as now, the Swans had finished sixth in the table, while Brentford had ended up third.

The Bees started as favourites and underlined that tag by taking a first-half lead as Jay Tabb pounced on a loose ball in the area to guide the ball into the net.

But Kenny Jackett’s side were given hope when the visitors had keeper Stuart Nelson sent off early in the second half for a professional foul.

Swansea toiled in search of an equaliser, and they got it when Ricketts’ deflected strike found the net with just three minutes remaining.

The Swans would go into win the second leg 2-0, thanks to a brace from striker Leon Knight.

Prime numbers

Reading Besian tributes

2 – Swansea had the second-best goal conversion rate in the Championship over the nine games following the restart, scoring 16 goals from 99 shots (16.2 per cent), Only Wigan (17.9 per cent) could boast better.

18 – This will be Swansea City’s 18th play-off fixture, they have only lost four of their previous 17 games in this format, with one coming after extra-time and another after penalties.