In a lethargic performance lacking energy and intent in the final third of play the visitors would edge the match with Swedish international striker lashing home the only goal of the game in the last ten minutes.
Prior to Saturday’s 3-1 defeat against league leaders Leicester, the Swans had won their previous four league games. A quick turnaround for the match with the Hornets would provide Michael Duff’s side with a perfect opportunity to build on a positive performance, bounce back and regain momentum against the struggling Londoners who would come into the match without an away stretching back 16 games to December.
That would not be the case as at times Duff’s side would look disjointed, allowing the visitors lacking confidence into the game.
Aside from the long-term injury casualties of Josh Ginnelly, Nathan Wood, Azeem Abdulai and Joe Allen, the Swans boss had a fully fit squad to choose from.
The Northern Irishman would opt to freshen his starting eleven for the fixture by making three changes. Josh Key missed out with a slight niggle allowing Harrison Ashby a start at right-back. Danish defender Kristian Pederson would return on the opposite side, whilst veteran midfielder Jay Fulton came in for Charlie Patino in the engine room.
Visitors Watford had eased the pressure on under-fire manager Valerien Ismael by ending a dismal run of five games without a win, triumphing over rock-bottom Sheffield Wednesday 1-0 on Saturday.
Looking to build on the result, the Hornets lying in 19th position, two points behind the Swans, would also show three changes as the Hertfordshire club looked for their first win on the road at the sixth attempt.
Regular centre-half Ryan Porteous sat the match out after picking up a one match ban for five yellow cards with Francisco Sierralta coming in, whilst Ivorian forward Vakoun Bayo and Congo international Edo Kayembe also earned starts.
It would be the home side who started the brightest, almost taking the lead in the opening minutes. Jamie Paterson would recycle a free kick earned on the right-hand side to send an inswinging cross into the penalty area. Dominant centre-back Harry Darling rising high would connect with a header that would fly past goalkeeper Daniel Bachmann but would also land inches wide of the far post.
The half in the mainstay would be lethargic at times with both sides guilty of losing possession in midfield as the game became flat looking for a spark.
It would come just after the half-hour mark as the game saw its first meaningful attempt on goal. Swansea midfielder Matt Grimes receiving the ball on the edge of the penalty area to curl a left-footed effort towards the bottom corner. Bachmann, at full stretch though, would be up to the challenge to tip the Swans captain’s shot around the post.
Despite the Swans edging the play, it would be Watford who would have the best chance of the half and should have gone into the break in the lead. Bayo connecting to Jeremy Ngakia’s searching cross but would head straight at Carl Rushworth with the goal gaping in front of him. The Swansea goalkeeper nevertheless would make a fine reaction save to deny the Hornets forward.
The second-half would start much like the first and it would be no surprise to see both sides looking to the bench for invention. Watford forward Kone’s wild effort from range summing up the game’s lack of quality in the final third sailing high and wide into the discontented travelling support.
The Swans thought they had broken the deadlock midway through the second-half with Pederson meeting a Grimes corner to head home past Bachmann. Referee Andrew Kitchen though had other ideas blowing for an off-the-ball foul in the build up.
As time started to run out it would be Watford who would be the side to get the all-important goal. Sema finding space on the left of the penalty area before lashing a powerful effort into the top corner past a helpless Rushworth.
The Swans came close to an equaliser in stoppage-time with Bachmann keeping out Darling’s header and later the same players low drive. It was though too little too late and not to be for Duff’s side who suffered back-to-back defeats and drop below their rivals to 18th in the table.
Swansea City X1
Carl Rushworth, Harrison Ashby (Liam Walsh 78), Kristian Pederson, Harry Darling, Bashir Humphreys, Matt Grimes (captain), Jay Fulton, Jamal Lowe, Liam Cullen (Josh Tymon 60), Jamie Paterson (Ollie Cooper 60), Jerry Yates.
Daniel Bachmann (captain), Jeremy Ngakia, Francisco Sierralta, Wesley Hoedt, Jamal Lewis (Mattie Pollock 90), Vakoun Bayo, Jake Livermore, Ismael Kone (Giorgi Chakvetadze 80), Tom Ince (Yaser Asprilla 60), Vakoun Bayo (Mileta Rajovic 60), Matteus Martins (Ken Sema 45).
[Lead image: Swansea City FC]
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