Report | Swansea City 2 Derby County 1
Two goals in three second-half minutes saw Swansea City return to winning ways at the Liberty Stadium and increase Derby’s relegation concerns.
The Swans had trailed to a Tom Lawrence header with an hour gone in SA1, but turned the game around in the blink of an eye.
Morgan Whittaker headed home his first league goal for the Swans against the club he left in January to level matters, before Connor Roberts showed superb technique to volley home what proved to be the winner.
It gave Steve Cooper’s side a first home win since beating Middlesbrough on March 6, and leaves them fourth on the table on 80 points with one fixture remaining.
And the head coach would have been pleased with the character his much-changed side showed to fight back from a goal down against a side battling for Championship survival.
Cooper had made five changes from the play-off clinching draw at Reading with Whittaker, Yan Dhanda, Korey Smith, Ryan Bennett and Roberts coming in for Wayne Routledge, Conor Hourihane, Jay Fulton, Marc Guehi and Kyle Naughton.
Swansea should have led inside three minutes when Nathan Byrne miscontrolled a clearance and allowed Jamal Lowe to race away.
Byrne recovered and Lowe opted to feed in Whittaker, but the former Ram could not control the strong pass cleanly and the chance was gone.
That proved the only true sight of goal during the opening 20 minutes, with Derby content to put bodies behind the ball and counter when possible.
The next big chance went the way of the Rams, Kamil Jozwiak drifting inside and finding Colin Kazim-Richards.
The striker’s shot was half-blocked by Roberts and the ball flew into the grateful hands of Freddie Woodman.
Swansea then waited anxiously as Lowe received treatment after being fouled in an aerial challenge by Byrne that saw the Derby man booked, but the forward was okay to continue.
Byrne then fouled Lowe again with a sliding challenge with the Swansea man already on the deck, but referee Darren Bond elected not to dish out a second yellow card.
It was goalless at the break, but within three minutes of the restart the visitors took the lead.
Byrne, who perhaps shouldn’t have been on the field after his earlier indiscretions, whipped in a fine cross and Lawrence got ahead of his marker to guide a header past Woodman.
Swansea looked to respond, Jake Bidwell whipping in a deep cross that Craig Forsyth headed away with Whittaker ready to pounce at the far post.
At the other end Woodman gathered a Matt Clarke header from Lawrence’s free-kick as the hour mark came and went.
But the Swans swept up the other end to level as Whittaker came back to haunt his old club.
Derby were sleeping from a short corner and Dhanda’s cross was nodded back across goal by Ben Cabango and Whittaker was there to glance in despite the efforts of Rams keeper Kelle Roos.
It was Whittaker’s last involvement as he and Bidwell made way for Ollie Cooper and Ryan Manning, and in no time at all the Swans had surged into the lead through Roberts' fifth goal of the season.
A raking pass from Grimes’ left foot found Roberts’ run, and the full-back showed great composure to volley home on the full at the near post.
It was all Swansea now, and Liam Cullen had a show blocked from Manning’s pull-back, following a superb ball inside the opposing full-back by skipper Matt Grimes.
Lowe then slotted in with 12 minutes remaining, but the goal was ruled out as the officials adjudged him to have been offside, even though the touch that played him in on goal looked as though it may have come off Derby’s Graeme Shinnie, rather than Cullen.
Woodman pushed away a Kazim-Richards header as Derby desperately chased an equaliser and a point.
But the Swans prevailed for a first win against the Rams in eight attempts.
Swansea City: Freddie Woodman; Connor Roberts, Ryan Bennett, Ben Cabango, Jake Bidwell (Ryan Manning 64); Korey Smith, Yan Dhanda (Jay Fulton 86), Matt Grimes (captain); Morgan Whittaker (Ollie Cooper 64), Liam Cullen, Jamal Lowe (Brandon Cooper 90).
Unused Substitutes: Ben Hamer, Conor Hourihane, Wayne Routledge, Joel Latibeaudiere, Kyle Naughton.
Derby County: Kelle Roos, Craig Forsyth, Graeme Shinnie (captain), George Edmundson, Kamil Jozwiak (Patrick Roberts 70), Martyn Waghorn (Louie Sibley 80), Tom Lawrence, Nathan Byrne, Colin Kazim-Richards, Matt Clarke, Jason Knight.
Unused Substitutes: David Marshall, Max Bird, Eiran Cashin, Lee Buchanan, Festy Ebosele, Kornell McDonald, Louie Watson.
Referee: Darren Bond