The Swans would have to be at their resolute best to gain back-to-back clean sheets against a strong Sunderland side who couldn’t quite find a breakthrough past the Swansea backline.
Having lost Charlie Patino to an early red card for a second bookable offense, the Swans could have even taken the three points themselves with Jamal Lowe seeing a first-half penalty saved.
It would have been harsh on the visitors though, who would be the more threatening of the two sides hitting the woodwork on no less than four occasions. Whilst Rushworth’s saves would be crucial in Michael Duff’s side’s ability to claim something out of the match.
Having lost their previous two home games against leaders Leicester City and Watford, the Swans had got back to winning ways last weekend with a solitary Liam Cullen goal enough to beat Blackburn at Ewood Park.
Looking to build on the result, Duff would come into the game against the Mackems with the same squad that had won in Lancashire. Full back Josh Key and forward Mykola Kukharevych remained absent as the Northern-Irishman would name an unchanged starting line-up.
Visitors Sunderland also enjoyed a turnaround in form last weekend ending a three-match losing streak to beat Norwich 3-1 at the Stadium of Light.
The Championship’s top scorer Jack Clarke would take his tally to nine for the season and would come into the fixture looking to replicate his strike in South Wales last season.
He would partner Ukrainian striker Nazarii Rusyn as Tony Mowbray’s play-off chasing side would also look to the same eleven to deliver back-to-back wins.
The opening exchanges saw the visitors have the best of the play. A neat passing movement seeing England under-20 midfielder Dan Neil gain space 25 yards out; however, the Sunderland youth product would only manage to hit his effort high and wide.
Having won the last four meetings between the two sides, the home side started to gain a feel into the game but would be sloppy in possession with Sunderland looking the more likely to threaten the Swansea goal with dangerman Clarke central to proceedings.
The former Tottenham attacker finding Neil on the edge of the penalty area, before teeing up French midfielder Pierre Ekwah to fashion a fizzing effort narrowly over the crossbar.
The Mackems would continue to be on top and tested Rushworth for the first time in the Swansea goal at the mid-point of the half.
Full back Trai Hume gaining a yard on opposite number Josh Tymon before finding Clarke approaching the back post. The league’s top scorer on this occasion would only find the on-loan Brighton shot-stopper in top form seeing his powerful effort turned away to safety.
As frustrations grew, the Swans afternoon then became a whole lot more difficult as they would see key midfielder Patino dismissed for a second bookable offense after diving into a challenge late. The on-loan Arsenal man having no complaints with referee Bobby Madley’s decision.
Rushworth would again come to the Swans rescue as Sunderland looked to gain an advantage before the break. Clarke’s trickery on the edge of the box allowing the attacker to strike a low effort aimed at the bottom right-hand corner. With a firm hand, the Swansea number one though would claw the effort onto the post gathering at the second attempt.
It would be the Swans though against the run of play who would have the chance to take the lead in first-half stoppage-time via the penalty spot after Harry Darling had been pulled to the ground in the box during a corner.
Anthony Patterson, tested for the first time in the Sunderland goal, would be the hero guessing the right way to save Jamal Lowe’s effort lacking precision.
Clarke then struck the Swans crossbar as Sunderland themselves could have broken the deadlock with the last kick of the half as the scores would somehow remain level.
In a heated start to the second half a series of cards were flourished by Madley as tempers flared. The Swans feeling hard done by with Fulton adjudged to have been late into a challenge with the Swans breaking away at pace.
This would galvanise both the home team players and support into life as the Swans would show the commitment and desire that Duff had spoken about in recent weeks to dig deep.
Sunderland would probe with substitute Luis Semedo coming close to meeting an in-swinging cross, before the same player would hit a deflected looping effort from range landing inches over the crossbar.
With wave after wave of relentless pressure faced in the Swans final third, it would be a case of hanging on for Duff’s side and calling upon Rushworth once more. A fine once-handed save denying Bradley Dack from six yards tipping the ball over the crossbar spectacular in execution and importance.
The Makems would throw the kitchen sink at the Swans in search of a winner and would once again hit the woodwork through Abdoullah Ba’s left-footed thunderbolt from range as time ran down on the clock. The Swans though would fight and hold on to earn a hard-fought point.
Swansea City X1
Carl Rushworth, Harrison Ashby, Josh Tymon, Harry Darling, Bashir Humphreys, Matt Grimes (captain), Charlie Patino, Jamal Lowe, Liam Cullen (Jay Fulton 45), Jamie Paterson (Ben Cabango 77), Jerry Yates (Ollie Cooper 68).
Anthony Patterson, Trai Hume, Niall Huggins (Bradley Dack 55), Luke O’Nien (captain), Dan Ballard (Dennis Cirkin 75), Pierre Ekwah, Daniel Neil (Abdoullah Ba 79), Job Bellingham (Alex Pritchard 55), Patrick Roberts, Jack Clarke, Nazarii Rusyn (Luis Semedo 55).
[Lead image: Swansea City FC]
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