Report | Swansea City 3 Birmingham City 4
Lukas Jutkiewicz and Auston Trusty netted in the final minutes as Birmingham City snatched victory from Swansea City at the end of a breathless Swansea.com Stadium encounter.
Scott Hogan had given the visitors the lead against the run of play from the penalty spot, but Piroe steered in an equaliser and Cullen finished a smart move to give Russell Martin’s side the lead.
Tahith Chong got the Blues back on level terms early in the second half, but a defensive blunder allowed Piroe to net his 12th goal of the season.
But, down to 10 men owing to injuries, the home side could not hold out as striker Jutkiewicz stooped to steer in a header before Trusty found the net from a set-piece.
It was cruel on the home side who had been so close to the result Martin, his players, staff and supporters had wanted at the end of a week which had seen the January transfer window close with no additions to a young squad.
The Swans boss had vowed he and his players would give everything to try and achieve success over the remainder of the season, in spite of the disappointment and the frustration felt given the amount of work and effort done by the club’s recruitment team.
And there was no disputing the effort of those in white or their backing from the stands, but the three points were snatched away at the last.
Martin had made three changes from the draw at QPR with Andy Fisher and Olivier Ntcham in for the injured Steven Benda and Joe Allen, while Nathan Wood was preferred to Harry Darling at the back.
The Swans made a bright and purposeful start, John Ruddy denying Joel Latibeaudiere from Ntcham’s lovely through ball, with the Cameroon international’s follow-up being deflected wide.
Seconds later Matt Grimes produced a superb pass to split the defence and find Liam Cullen, but Ruddy was also able to foil his low effort as he raced off his line.
The Swans were firmly on top but fell behind to Hogan’s penalty in the 14th minute.
Reda Khadra managed to reach Ben Cabango’s attempted header back to Fisher, but his effort was well wide of the target.
However, referee Jeremy Simpson awarded a spot-kick and booked the Swansea keeper after the players collided with Fisher attempting to make a save.
The Swans number one so nearly saved the penalty, but the ball bounced up and into the net.
The hosts responded to the setback with Piroe going close with a deflected strike that squirmed wide of the post.
But it was the Dutchman who would level for the hosts. Ntcham’s pass flicked off the heel of Ollie Cooper to fall at his feet, and a neat turn and right-foot finish saw Piroe send his 11th goal of the season beyond Ruddy.
And the Swans completed a quick turnaround when they took the lead five minutes later.
A slide-rule pass down the right found Piroe’s run, and he clipped the ball back across goal for Cullen to turn in from close range.
And Martin’s side were not done there, Ntcham headed just wide as he climbed to reach Latibeaudiere’s cross, while Cullen repeatedly offered a threat in behind the Blues rearguard.
Piroe had the ball in the net from a brilliant Ryan Manning pass a few moments later, but the offside flag cut short any celebrations.
Nevertheless, the Swans headed back to the dressing room with the interval lead and swept forward immediately from the restart as Manning flashed an effort wide from Piroe’s drilled crossfield pass.
Tahith Chong blazed well over the bar at the other end after Wood had superbly stayed tight to the pacy winger as he surged forward.
But Chong made no mistake a few seconds later when Juninho Bacuna’s pass sent him clean through on goal to fire into the bottom corner.
However, the visitors were level for just a matter of seconds. Ruddy got himself in a terrible muddle as he came to meet Cabango’s long ball, and succeeded only in shinning the ball straight to Piroe, who needed no second invitation to find the empty net.
It was a chaotic passage of play, but the Swans looked to settle again with Ollie Cooper seeing his cross blocked with white shirts waiting after good work from Piroe.
Swansea threatened again, Manning and Cullen combining superbly for the Irishman to force Ruddy into another save, with Kevin Long denying Cooper a tap in from the rebound.
Birmingham began to commit more numbers forward, with Maxime Colin firing one opening well over from the edge of the area.
The Swans then lost Latibeaudiere to injury and, having used up the three allocated slots to bring on substitutes, they could not replace him and had to see out the final minutes with 10 men.
But they could not do so as Jutkiewicz nodded home in the final minute of normal time and Trusty did likewise in the final seconds of added time.
Swansea City: Andy Fisher; Joel Latibeaudiere, Ben Cabango, Nathan Wood, Ryan Manning; Jay Fulton, Matt Grimes (captain), Olivier Ntcham (Luke Cundle 64), Ollie Cooper; Liam Cullen (Morgan Whittaker 70), Joel Piroe (Harry Darling 77).
Unused Substitutes: Lewis Webb, Kyle Naughton, Cameron Congreve, Joel Cotterill.
Birmingham City: John Ruddy, Maxime Colin, Auston Trusty, Dion Sanderson, Kevin Long, Scott Hogan, Tahith Chong, Krystian Bielik (Lukas Jutkiewicz 77), George Friend (Juninho Bacuna 46), Gary Gardner (Hannibal Mejbri 46), Reda Khadra (Emmanuel Longelo 57).
Unused Substitutes: Neil Etheridge, Alfie Chang, Jordan James.