Swansea march on with victory over Sunderland
The Swans looked set for a stroll when they led 2-0 at half-time but whatever Sunderland boss Tony Mowbray said to his charges during the interval had the desired effect.
Their revival during the opening 25 minutes of the second half should have yielded more than just Clarke’s goal.
Yet there was no sign of such urgency in the opening 45 minutes which the Swans totally dominated.
When the breakthrough came it was no surprise. Ryan Manning’s floated pass down the left flank in the 13th minute found captain Matt Grimes, whose slide-rule cross was smashed home via a deflection by Cooper.
Sunderland failed to heed earlier warnings, with centre-half Ben Cabango and Luke Cundle both failing to convert good chances.
For the 2,000 Sunderland fans who made the 700-mile round trip, much of the remainder of the first half was painfully one-sided.
Patrick Roberts threatened sporadically down the right wing but any Blacks Cats possession was contained in benign areas, with Swans goalkeeper Steve Benda untroubled.
It got worse for the visitors on the stroke of half-time. A Manning cross was not dealt with by the Sunderland defence and midfielder Darling scrambled home Swansea’s second with a scruffy effort that squirmed under the body of goalkeeper Anthony Patterson.
The home side looked set to cruise to victory as the second half began, but the pendulum swung dramatically in the direction of their opponents.
Sunderland were almost inexplicably transformed after the break, passing with purpose and competing fiercely for every ball.
They were soon back in it when Clarke rifled home a low left-footed strike under the noses of an increasingly excited travelling support.
Swansea chased shadows for the next 10 minutes as Mowbray’s men monopolised possession and bristled with attacking intent. But the equaliser just would not come.
Swansea gradually found a way back, though it was the 72nd minute before they launched a meaningful second-half assault on goal.
Jay Fulton’s shot from the edge of the area was tipped over by Patterson and from the corner a header from Dutch striker Joel Piroe was palmed away at point-blank range.
The Swans managed to disrupt the Sunderland momentum as the clock ticked down, but the away side remained a threat on the break.
Even Patterson came up for a Sunderland corner in the dying moments of injury time, but Swansea held out.
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