Preview | Swansea City v Barnsley
Swansea City will look to build on their first-leg lead and secure a play-off final place when they host Barnsley at the Liberty Stadium this evening (6.30pm).
Supporters return to the Liberty for the first time since March 2020, with Steve Cooper’s side looking to go on and book a place at Wembley on the back of their 1-0 win at Oakwell on Monday night.
But the Swans will not need reminding that a first-leg lead is no guarantee of progression.
They held a one-goal advantage after the first leg of last season’s semi-final against Brentford, only for a 3-1 loss in the second leg to condemn them to a 3-2 aggregate defeat.
Head coach Cooper tellingly brought the subject up in the immediate aftermath of Monday’s win in south Yorkshire, and has challenged his players to finish the job at hand.
Barnsley, however, are dangerous opponents and remain very much in the tie.
And, given this is the play-offs, no-one needs any reminding of the potential for nerve-shredding drama.
Whatever the outcome, a memorable evening awaits on a number of levels.
Swansea City have no new injury concerns on the back of Monday’s first leg.
Defenders Brandon Cooper and Tivonge Rushesha are the only absentees for Cooper ahead of the return fixture.
“Having some supporters back is long overdue, it’s an important game and it is something to look forward to and cherish.
“We have to be motivated and ready to play in front of them, it’s just not been the same without them.
“The atmosphere on Monday made everyone realise that is how thing are supposed to be, and it will be even better and more appreciated when we get full crowds back.
“But we have to focus on giving the supporters something to cheer and get behind. We will also be thinking about those who won’t be able to get in too, because in normal circumstances there would not be an empty seat in the place.
“So as players, coaches and staff, we have to represent this community and show our unity and what Swansea City is all about.
"It's much for the players to know now that on Saturday there's only one way, we have to score goals and put the pressure on Swansea.
"Maybe it's better for us now to have that focus.It's been a long season but we need to make a big effort.
"We are still in the game, we are still in the battle. The performance for the second leg has to be there from the first minute.
"We are capable of winning at Swansea, but we will need a perfect performance."
Remember the last time?
Jamal Lowe was on the scoresheet again as Swansea City made it seven games unbeaten at the Liberty Stadium to climb to third in the Championship table when Barnsley last headed to SA1 in December 2020.
Lowe showed great anticipation to net his fifth goal of the season from close range, and was a menace throughout against a Barnsley side that had headed to south Wales on the back of three straight victories.
The three points were secured when Victor Adeboyejo headed into his own net after the break to give the hosts an ideal early Christmas present, with an 11th clean sheet of the season thrown in for good measure.
5 – Anyone looking for omens in each side’s home and away form will find little to sway them. The Swans had the fifth best home record in the Championship, while Barnsley had the fifth best away record.
38 – It has been 38 years since Barnsley beat the Swans in 90 minutes. Their only victory in 17 games since came via penalties in the 2006 League One play-off final, after the game had ended 2-2 after 90 minutes and extra-time.