Report | Swansea City 3 Reading 2
Goals from Harry Darling, Ollie Cooper and Jay Fulton saw Swansea City come from two goals down to take three points against Reading and earn a third-consecutive home win.
Despite starting strongly, the Swans found themselves 2-0 down on the half-hour mark after breakaway goals from Yakou Meite and Tom Ince, but the Swans showed composure and character as they patiently broke down a stubborn Reading defence.
Darling headed in from a corner late in the first half to get the Swans back into the game, while Cooper equalised from close range on the hour mark before Fulton completed the turnaround with a fantastic strike from distance in the 74th minute.
Head coach Russell Martin had made three changes to the side who tasted defeat at Burnley with Darling starting his second consecutive home match in place of Kyle Naughton, while Luke Cundle and Cooper both started. Olivier Ntcham dropped to the bench. With top-scorer Joel Piroe starting a three match suspension, there was a space on the bench for young striker Josh Thomas.
It was a stuttering start in SA1 as a lighting failure in sections of the stadium led to a five-minute stoppage with barely 70 seconds on the clock.
The Swans, suffered no such stutters. There was an intensity and pace about how they moved the ball in the opening stages, while quick restarts helped keep them on the front foot.
Within four minutes of play resuming, Matt Grimes had got into a good position in the Reading penalty box and appeared to be taken out by Amadou Mbengue. Referee Andy Davies was unmoved by the Swans penalty appeals and Cooper's follow-up effort swerved way off target.
Michael Obafemi then had two chances in quick succession. The first a smart effort on the spin which was well-saved by visiting keeper Joe Lumley, while the second was headed over the bar.
Ben Cabango fired a sensational right-footed effort from around 30-yards which had Lumley scrambling to tip it over, and the Reading shot-stopper was called upon again from the resulting corner, just about punching it away before Darling could head in at the back post.
A second potential penalty claim was waved away. Fulton’s head connected with Tyrese Fornah’s knee as the Reading man scrambled to deny the Scot a goalscoring opportunity, but from the official’s point of view the Reading man got enough of the ball and not enough of Fulton’s head and the Swans had to settle for a corner.
Despite having all the chances and position, Swans found themselves behind with 25 minutes played. Meite reacted quickest to the loose ball after Junior Hoilett’s effort was blocked by Cabango and was able to sky into the roof of Steven Benda’s net.
The goal played into the visitors’ hands as they dropped into a low block and invited pressure while leaving Meita high up the pitch. And it was a tactic that quickly bore fruit when one long ball forward found the loan front man who was able to get the better of Darling - although it appeared the Reading man had clearly pulled back the Swansea defender - and square a ball to Ince who neatly chipped over Benda to double the deficit.
The Swans had to be patient as they moved the ball around looking for any opening in the deep Reading defence and a few half-chances followed. Fulton picked out Obafemi in the box but Tom Holmes did well to take the chance off the striker's toes before Jeff Hendrick shinned the clearance from a Joel Latibeaudiere cross only just wide of the near post.
Once again, it was a set-piece which saw Swans get back into the game. Grimes’ in-swinging corner delivery was met at the front post by Darling and headed inside the far post for a second in as many games for the centre-back.
Half-time brought a change for the Swans with Nathan Wood sacrificed for Armstrong Oko-Flex as the side changed shape.
The second half started almost as slowly as the first with numerous periods of treatment for visiting players, and by the 56th minute very little football had been played with Andy Yiadom having to go off for the Royals.
The Swans were level on the hour-mark. Cooper smashed home from close range, the young academy graduate reacting quickest to a poor defensive header from the Reading rearguard.
With the scores level, the game opened up. Oko-Flex and Obafemi’s pace got the better of the visiting defence but the latter just strayed offside before he was able to truly test Lumley, and at the other end, Cabango did well to prevent substitute Lucas Joao from making anything of a smart ball in behind.
An inch-perfect Grimes’ ball got Obafemi in again. With Lumley and Holmes both attempting last ditch challenges which the striker managed to avoid but in doing so had gone so wide that the chance had all but gone.
Fulton gave the Swans the lead with 15 minutes remaining. With little on in front of him, the midfielder tried his luck from distance and he drilled a superb right-footed effort just inside the far post.
Reading did mount a late attack but headers from Darling, Cabango and substitute Naughton kept crosses away and a key intervention from Benda - which saw the German shot-stopper come a long way off his line to punch the ball away from Ince – all contributed to the Swans holding on and claiming third consecutive home win.
Swansea City: Steven Benda; Nathan Wood (Armstrong Oko-Flex 45’) (Fin Stevens 87’), Harry Darling, Ben Cabango; Joel Latibeaudiere, Jay Fulton, Matt Grimes (captain), Matty Sorinola; Luke Cundle (Kyle Naughton 81’), Ollie Cooper (Olivier Ntcham 90+2); Michael Obafemi (Liam Cullen 90+2).
Unused substitutes: Andy Fisher, Josh Thomas.
Reading: Joe Lumley, Tom Holmes, Tom McIntyre, Jeff Hendrick, Tom Ince, Yakou Meite (Ovie Ejaria 62’), Andy Yiadom (captain) (Baba Rehman 56’), Tyrese Fornah (Lucas Joao 62’), Mamadou Loum (Andy Carroll79’), Junior Hoilett, Amadou Mbengue.
Unused substitutes: Dean Bouzanis, Shane Long, Nesta Guinness-Walker.