Report | Swansea City 1 Preston North End 0
Ryan Manning’s stunning strike saw Swansea City return to winning ways as they saw off Preston North End at the Swansea.com Stadium.
With home fans in attendance in SA1 for the first time in six weeks, Russell Martin’s side came out on top in a hard-fought encounter thanks to a spectacular effort from Manning just after half-time.
The Republic of Ireland international produced an unstoppable left-footed shot from distance that left the keeper with no chance and ultimately settled matters, giving the Swans a first win since beating Barnsley at the end of November.
Manning nearly added a second, while the impressive Cyrus Christie twice came close to opening his Swansea City account on an afternoon where the likes of Flynn Downes and Ben Cabango also stood out.
The Swans had been unchanged from the draw at Huddersfield, while new signing Hannes Wolf was named among the substitutes following his arrival on loan from Borussia Monchengladbach.
Martin had spoken of how keen his players were to start well in front of the returning fans, and they backed up his words with a purposeful opening which yielded an early chance.
Matt Grimes sent a superb deep cross in and only a desperate block prevented Christie heading in at the far stick.
There was no shortage of zip about Swansea early on and Olivier Ntcham will feel he should have done better after picking off a loose pass from Daniel Iversen in the Preston goal and driving into the area, with his shot hitting the side-netting from an acute angle.
Preston were under the cosh, but they broke well to set up a chance for Ched Evans, who forced Ben Hamer into a sharp stop as the Swans keeper tipped the striker’s header over the bar.
The Swans were soon back on the front foot with more nice work on the ball; a flowing move took the hosts from deep in their own half to just inside the Preston box, where Grimes lofted his strike over the bar.
The hosts then had a penalty appeal waved away after Joel Latibeaudiere went down under pressure from Preston skipper Alan Browne in the area.
Still Swansea pressed, a ranging pass from Cabango sending Christie galloping down the right to find Joel Piroe, but the Dutchman was crowded out.
Preston still carried a threat themselves, and it took two excellent defensive headers from Cabango to clear the danger from a series of set-pieces on the stroke of half-time.
Martin elected to make a change at the break, sending on Wolf for his debut in place of Ntcham.
And his side had the lead five minutes after the interval thanks to a wonder strike from Manning.
The defender picked off an errant pass some 40 yards out and drove forward before unleashing a swerving, fizzing drive that flew beyond the keeper into the net.
That eased home frustrations and it was nearly 2-0 a few moments later when Wolf nipped in to win the ball and started a rapid counter.
Latibeaudiere and Piroe took it on to find Christie, whose rising drive was just about parried past the post by Iversen.
Christie then produced a lung-bursting run out of defence that took him into the opposition box, but Piroe was just on his heels as the loan signing clipped a ball across the six-yard box.
The visitors looked to respond with Daniel Johnson slipping after working space near the byline, before Christie went straight up the other end to fire agonisingly wide.
Manning then tried his luck again from a well-worked corner routine, but Iversen just managed to make a sprawling save to deny the Irishman his second of the afternoon.
The Swansea defender was soon in action at the other end, making a brilliant block as Johnson struck from the edge of the area.
Wolf sent a curling effort into the grateful grasp of Iversen as his lively debut continued.
Preston had a period of pressure during the closing stages, and there were some nervy moments, but in the end it came to nothing as the Swans claimed all three points a clean sheet.
Swansea City: Ben Hamer; Ben Cabango, Kyle Naughton, Ryan Manning; Cyrus Christie (Jay Fulton 84), Flynn Downes, Matt Grimes (captain), Joel Latibeaudiere; Korey Smith, Olivier Ntcham (Hannes Wolf 46); Joel Piroe (Kyle Joseph 74).
Unused Substitutes: Andy Fisher, Ryan Bennett, Michael Obafemi, Liam Walsh.
Preston North End: Daniel Iversen, Sepp van den Berg, Greg Cunningham, Ben Whiteman (Ryan Ledson 84), Patrick Bauer, Alan Browne (captain), Ched Evans, Daniel Johnson (captain), Joe Rafferty (Scott Sinclair 63), Emil Riis Jakobsen, Tom Barkhuizen (Matthew Olosunde 36).
Unused Substitutes: Connor Ripley, Liam Lindsay, Ali McCann, Sean Maguire.