Report | Stevenage 0 Swansea City 2
Headed goals from Wayne Routledge and Viktor Gyokeres helped Swansea City overcome League Two Stevenage and book their place in the FA Cup fourth round.
Paired up front in a much-changed side by Steve Cooper, the duo struck at the start of each half as the Swans comfortably progressed at the Lamex Stadium.
Wearing the captain’s armband in the absence of Matt Grimes, Routledge opened the scoring after seven minutes when he nodded home Yan Dhanda’s cross.
And Gyokeres doubled the lead with his first Swansea goal just six minutes into the second half; heading past Stevenage keeper Jamie Cumming after a delicious cross from Jordon Garrick.
Cooper’s men survived a scare later on as Freddie Woodman saved from Luke Norris’ penalty to preserve a seventh clean sheet from nine games.
Routledge, who turned 36 on Thursday, was one of seven changes from last weekend’s win over Watford.
Meanwhile, academy graduate Cameron Evans made his senior debut and the 19-year-old produced an assured performance in the heart of defence.
There was also a welcome return for George Byers, who came in for his first appearance of the season after shaking off a groin injury.
Four matches unbeaten and aiming to avoid back-to-back third-round exits, the Swans made the perfect start against the side 68 places lower than them in the EFL.
Just seven minutes were on the clock when Routledge marked his first start since September by heading in Dhanda’s cross from the close range.
The winger also netted the last time the Swans faced League Two opposition in the FA Cup – the 8-1 rout of Notts County in February 2018 – and dedicated his maiden goal of this season to former kitman Nick Eames, who sadly passed away earlier this week.
The visitors, who had won just once in their last eight away games in this competition, went in search of a second goal.
Gyokeres – making his first start since October – shot straight at Cumming, before fractionally mistiming his run as he looked to connect with Garrick’s square ball.
But the Swans had to maintain their concentration as the hosts looked to respond towards the end of the half.
Only outside the League Two relegation zone on goal difference, Stevenage enjoyed a good spell of pressure with Danny Newton shooting just over from Jack Smith’s cutback, while Ben Coker’s low free-kick was inches wide of the far post.
However, the visitors got back on track by doubling their advantage within six minutes of the restart.
Garrick – making his first start of the campaign – demonstrated tremendous pace to get away down the right, before his delicious cross was glanced in by Gyokeres.
Appearing in round three for only the seventh time in their history after overcoming both Concord Rangers and Hull City on penalties, Stevenage rallied as the clock ticked down.
They were awarded a penalty in the 81st minute when a deep cross into the box was handled by Gyokeres.
However, Woodman guessed correctly to deny Norris from 12 yards; recording his fourth save from the seven penalties he has faced in the Swans’ goal.
The keeper made another smart stop soon after to keep out Arthur Read’s free-kick as Cooper’s side secured their place in the fourth-round draw.
Stevenage: Jamie Cumming, Luther James-Wildin, Ben Coker, Scott Cuthbert (captain), Charlie Carter, Danny Newton (Jack Aitchison 63), Terence Vanccoten, Arthur Read, Jack Smith (Romain Vincelot 76), Tom Pett (Luke Norris 46), Chris Lines (Aramide Oteh 63).
Subs not used: Billy Johnson, Luke Prosser, Tyrone Marsh, Elliott List, Ross Marshall.
Swansea City: Freddie Woodman; Kyle Naughton, Ben Cabango, Cameron Evans (Jake Bidwell 72); Jordon Garrick (Oli Cooper 84), George Byers, Jay Fulton (Korey Smith 46), Ryan Manning; Yan Dhanda; Wayne Routledge (captain; Liam Cullen 65), Viktor Gyokeres.
Subs not used: Lewis Webb, Marc Guehi, Matt Grimes, Jamal Lowe, Daniel Williams.