Report | Swansea City 3 Preston North End 2
A Borja Baston brace helped Swansea City come from behind to snatch a nail-biting victory over Preston at the Liberty Stadium.
The Spaniard struck in each half in, with substitute George Byers adding the other goal to maintain the Swans’ unbeaten start to the season.
After a poor first-half that saw the Swans snatch an undeserved equaliser on the stroke of half-time, Steve Cooper’s men turned it on after the break to equal their run of 13 league games unbeaten at the Liberty recorded back in 2011.
The hosts went into the game unbeaten under Cooper after an opening day victory over Hull City and a goalless draw at Derby. Throw in a 3-1 win over Northampton in the Carabao Cup in midweek and it had been a good start to the campaign under the new head coach.
In fact, the Swans hadn’t lost at home in the league for 12 games and Cooper named the same starting line-up that secured a goalless draw at Derby last Saturday.
That meant Aldo Kalulu was fit enough to start after being injured at Pride Park. The sole change to the matchday squad saw Andre Ayew, the two-goal hero in the win over Northampton, come in for Yan Dhanda on the bench.
Preston manager Alex Neil made one change to the side that beat Wigan 3-0 last week with Joe Rafferty replacing the injured Andrew Hughes (hamstring).
The experienced David Nugent was still unavailable with a calf problem.
It was the visitors, without a win at Swansea in 17 trips dating back to 1961, who made all the early running as the hosts struggled to keep hold of possession.
And the pressure took its toll when Preston surged into an 11th minute lead. Left-back Rafferty chested the ball down on the edge of the area and curled a shot in at the near post as goalkeeper Freddie Woodman saw the ball late
Swansea, looking nervous, were rocked back on their heels as Preston came at them again. This time with the home defence stood strong before Cooper was forced into an early change with Ayew replacing the injured Nathan Dyer after just 21 minutes.
Preston followed suit four minutes later as striker Louis Moult was stretchered off after landing awkwardly and replaced by Andre Green.
Swansea slowly got themselves back into the game with Ayew and Jake Bidwell combining well down the left before Daniel Johnson fired just wide at the other end
But the home side were still finding it difficult to secure possession and Preston remained in control as Billy Bodin forced a comfortable save out of Woodman before Ben Davies headed a corner just over and Sean Maguire fired wide.
Then five minutes into injury time, Swans struck against the run of play. Jay Fulton found Connor Roberts overlapping down the right and the right-back delivered a low cross into the box which Borja tucked away with class.
Even so, Cooper would have had some stern words for his side at the break and Byers replaced Kalulu for the start of the second half as Swansea looked for an improved 45 minutes.
It was a good start as Matt Grimes played in Bersant Celina within three minutes, but his shot hit the side netting as the Swans faithful prepared to celebrate.
They didn’t have to wait long as the Swans took the lead for the first time in the 63rd minute. Bidwell sent Celina racing down the left and when his low cross was cleared off the boot of Borja, Byers was on hand to fire home from the edge of the area.
However, the lead lasted just four minutes as Roberts mistimed his challenge to barge Maguire over in the box. The referee pointed straight to the spot and Johnson made it 2-2 by firing low beyond Woodman, who had gone the right way.
But Swansea were not done, and were back in front less than two minutes later.
Bidwell forced his way to the byline after neat play by Celina and the left-back’s cross picked our Borja perfectly for the Spaniard to head home his second of the afternoon with 69 minutes gone.
And an excellent second-half from the Swans it was enough to give the home side victory, although they had to survive late penalty appeals for handball and a header straight at keeper Woodman in stoppage time.
Swansea City: Freddie Woodman; Connor Roberts, Mike van der Hoorn, Joe Rodon, Jake Bidwell; Jay Fulton, Matt Grimes (capt); Nathan Dyer (Andre Ayew 21), Bersant Celina, Aldo Kalulu (George Byers 46); Borja Baston (Sam Surridge 81).
Subs (not used): Kristoffer Nordfeldt, Kyle Naughton, Ben Wilmot, Kristoffer Peterson.
Preston North End: Declan Rudd, Darnell Fisher, Ben Pearson, Ben Davies, Daniel Johnson (Alan Browne 80), Paul Gallagher (captain), Louis Moult (Andre Green 25), Joe Raffertty, Patrick Bauer, Sean Maguire, Billy Bodin (Tom Barkhuizen 80).
Subs (not used): Connor Ripley, Tom Clarke, Brad Potts, Jayden Stockley.
Ref: Dean Whitestone.