REPORT - Swansea City 0-3 Middlesbrough
Swansea City slumped to the bottom of the Championship table this afternoon with a disappointing 3-0 home defeat against Middlesbrough.
Gareth Southgate's side outplayed us from pretty much start to finish as we struggled throughout to compete in midfield. They outfought and outmuscled us in the centre and their quick attacking play caused our defence problems time and time again.
After a comfortable Carling Cup win in mid-week, we were more hopeful and confident of a better League result this week but it was another poor performance from the Swans, and we proved that a lot of work needs to be done this year.
We looked far too weak in midfield, Middlesbrough were a strong outfit and with the likes of Leon Britton, Shaun MacDonald and Andrea Orlandi in the centre, we were always going to find it extremely difficult to compete and we proved again how much we're missing the likes of Joe Allen, Darren Pratley and Ferrie Bodde.
Paulo Sousa decided to make two changes from the side that lost at Leicester. Stephen Dobbie replaced Gorka Pintado up front and Orlandi started in the centre in place of the injured Joe Allen.
Rangel - Monk - Williams - Tate
Dyer - Britton - MacDonald - Orlandi - Gower
The visitors started the brighter out of the two sides and early on they were causing our defence problems with a series of corner kicks, one of which nearly saw them take the lead but a header came back off the woodwork.
The Swans were putting themselves under needless pressure at the back. Dorus De Vries' distribution was extremely poor, and his short goal kicks were often creating problems for the defence and giving Middlesbrough easy opportunities to attack deep into our own half.
Neither side were creating many clear cut chances in the opening 20 minutes or so but it was the visitors who looked the more confident going forward. We got forward well on a few occasions, usually thanks to Dyer's pace on the right flank but the opposition's defence were never troubled.
Stephen Dobbie had a couple of chances on goal, he dragged a weak shot wide of the far post before firing straight at goalkeeper Danny Coyne who made a simple save.The bar saves the Swans early on
Southgate's side then opened the scoring 13 minutes before the break and it was what they deserved in all fairness. Adam Johnson got the better of Angel Rangel down the left and he found some space to deliver a low cross into the box, and it beat everyone as it flew into the bottom far corner.
The Swans needed to bounce back now after going a goal behind but for the remainder of the half we didn't show any signs of creating an opening for ourselves in front of the opposition's goal.
The two teams went into the break with Southgate by far the happier of the two managers.
We were desperate for a strong ball winner in the midfield but Sousa was limited with his options on the bench, and he decided to keep the same side for the start of the second period.
Swansea City started this half a lot brighter than the first and within three minutes we created our best chance of the game. Nathan Dyer did well before providing Dobbie with a great chance from about 12 yards out, it was a chance you'd fancy the striker to bury into the bottom corner but his effort dragged wide of the left hand post.
An equaliser early on could have changed the game into our favour after what happened afterwards but it wasn't to be, and Middlesbrough doubled their advantage. Just a few minutes after Dobbie's miss, the visitors were 2-0 in front. Ashley Williams conceded possession in a dangerous position and the opposition took full advantage. Mark Yeates picked up the ball following the defender's mistake, he found Emnes and he fired the ball into the top left hand corner, it was an excellent finish and Southgate's side looked in complete control now.
Dobbie had another decent chance to get a goal for us but again he dragged a shot wide of the target, this time with his left foot.
Garry Monk headed over from a corner and Orlandi's long range free-kick had to be tipped over the bar but other than that we found it difficult to create clear cut chances in front of goal.
With around half hour remaining, Paulo Sousa made a double change and he brought on youngsters Jazz Richards and Casey Thomas who replaced Shaun MacDonald and Mark Gower.
Thomas used his lightening pace to good effect, he bombed down the right flank but somehow the referee blew his whistle for a foul from the Swans player.
Boro then increased their advantage further and made it 3-0 with around 10 minutes to go, and the scoreline became more reflective on the match and the visitor's dominant performance. It was disappointing to see us concede from yet another set piece. Adam Johnson's cross from the right was met by by substitute Tuncay who headed home from close range.
Danny Coyne, who had little to do in the Middlesbrough, had a fantastic double save to make near the end to deny us a consolation goal. He saved Dyer's effort before stopping Pintado with the rebound.
It was another hugely disappointing afternoon for the Swans and again we proved how much we are missing a quality central midfielder to join Leon Britton, who performed well today on his 300th game for the Swans, but he was let down by his team-mates around him. Dyer also had a decent game, he put in a lot of effort and determination but it wasn't enough.
Stephen Dobbie showed that he can create his own chances with good foot work on the ball but his finishing needs to improve.
The defence also looked vulnerable yet again. We put ourselves under too much pressure far too often and you just can't do that against any team, especially against a side who close you down as quickly as they did today.
Rate the Players here
Match Photos here
Sousa's reaction here
Monk's thoughts here
Match Stats here
Leon Britton - Nathan Dyer was a close contender, but Britton competed well against a strong, physical side.
Not at fault for the goals, but he didn't look as comfortable with crosses as he did last week at Leicester.
He still doesn't look fit and he's nowhere near the player he's been over the last 2 years. He got well beaten by Johnson for their opening goal.
A terrible error for the second goal, conceded possession in a dangerous area. Distribution from the back was also poor.
Struggled at times with the power of their forwards, but again performed better than Williams
Again, too slow at times, struggled to cope with their pacey wingers and gave them too much time on the ball.
His worst performance in a long time for us. Didn't look interested at all from the start and he deserved to be replaced.
Again he looks out of his depth and offered us nothing in midfield. We need to find an alternative in midfield, I think Pintado would offer a lot more in an attacking midfield role on Tuesday. He'd give us more height and he'd battle a lot more for possession.
Worked hard throughout but was let down by his team-mates
Started quite well but he soon faded out of the match. He can't compete against physical sides like Middlesbrough and is far too lightweight.
The only player who attacked Boro and caused them problems.
He's got quick feet, and he can beat a player to get in a decent shooting position, but this good work needs to be followed by a better shot. He missed an easy chance early in the second half that could changed the game.
He did ok but nothing special, it was always going to be hard for him in the circumstances when nobody was playing well.
He nearly won us a penalty with a superb run down the right wing but offered little else. Both Richards and Thomas showed more fighting spirit than MacDonald did though
Didn't have enough time to make an impact on the game.