Swansea City head-coach Michael Duff praised his sides great ‘character and spirit’ as the Swans drew their opening EFL Championship league match 1-1 against Birmingham City at the Swansea.com Stadium yesterday afternoon.
New signing Jerry Yates bagged a 75th minute equaliser on debut to earn a point for the Northern Irishman in his first game in charge, cancelling out Siriki Dembele’s first-half opener for the Blues.
Despite the Swans showing positives on the pitch, the game was marred by revelations post-match that attacker Olivier Ntcham refused to be part of Duff’s selection the evening before the game.
The Cameroon international now looks set to sign for Turkish side Samsunspor in the coming days and has most likely played his last match for the club.
Duff, choosing to reflect on the match rather than talk of speculation, believes despite the disruption in the build-up his players responded brilliantly and those given the chance with Ntcham missing took their opportunity.
“I have mixed feelings really. I thought Birmingham started a little bit better than us but in the second half we came on really strong, and the second part of the first half likewise. That was the frustration,” said Duff.
“Birmingham didn’t have to do anything to score a goal. We gave them a really poor goal. So, we’ve given it to them, and we’ve had to score a really good goal to score.
“They were obviously trying to shut up shop, but we stuck to the task. I thought it was an even game, but I thought we did enough to shade it.
“We hit the crossbar and had one off the line and had a tight goal disallowed. I’m not sure how it didn’t go in the players couldn’t believe it. There were lots of positives in it for sure.
“Olivier [Ntcham] was in the team. He ultimately decided he didn’t want to play so we had to change the team. The players didn’t know until 1.20 this afternoon. So that meant there was an opportunity for someone else. It’s disappointing, but that is football.
“To have all that disruption in the background and then to show all that character and spirit the players showed going 1-0 down was top draw.
“Carl [Rushworth] showed what he is. He made some big saves in some big moments. He’s a young goalkeeper so is going to make mistakes but that is why he is on loan. He will be better for it hopefully.
“Yatesy [Jerry Yates] struggled to get into the game a little bit, but that’s what goalscorers do, if they don’t have a great game but they can walk off with a goal, that’s what he’s judged on.
“Culls [Liam Cullen] coming on being a natural left footer shows when we do get in that end of the pitch, we can put Yates in behind. I thought it was a well-worked goal.
“I thought Josh Key was excellent playing out of position, his attitude and physicality showed. We don’t really want to see him on that side of the pitch but the way he adapted himself and applied himself was really good.
“We are a young team so the one thing we do have is energy and the fitness levels looked really good but we’re in a transitional period in terms of there is not a lot of balance to the team.
“From a selfish point of view, we’d have liked a win, but I’ll take the positives and take a point.
(Lead Image: Swansea City)
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