MATCH REPORT 2022/23: Swansea City 0 – 3 Blackburn Rovers

MATCH REPORT 2022/23: Swansea City 0 – 3 Blackburn Rovers

Rovers’ fine start to the 2022-23 campaign continued, as they made it six points from two games after Jon Dahl Tomasson’s side put in a perfect away performance to get the better of possession-hungry Swansea City, in order to leave Wales with a 3-0 victory and all three points.

Following last Saturday’s 1-0 home win over Queens Park Rangers to kick the season off, Tomasson made one change for the clash in South Wales, as new signing Sammie Szmodics was brought straight into the fold, replacing Jack Vale, who missed out on starting in his homeland, as he dropped to the bench.

With the Rovers fans who made the 212-mile journey to South Wales perched and ready for kick-off, it was the visitors who got the proceedings underway following the whistle by referee Steve Martin.

After just six minutes of action, it was Rovers who started the brighter of the two sides, as Sam Gallagher managed to stretch his legs in the opening stages and test former teammate, Andy Fisher, who was between the Swans’ goal-posts, however the former MK Dons man did enough to hold the forward’s powerful effort.

On the 17th minute, Kyle Naughton managed to get the hosts in on the statistics as he released a speculative effort from range that didn’t even bother Thomas Kaminski.

The first booking of the game came three minutes later, when Jay Fulton was cautioned for infringing upon Lewis Travis in the middle of the park.

Joël Piroe got his first sniff of the action after 25 minutes as he received the ball with his back to goal and released a shot on the turn, but again, like Naughton’s effort, the forward failed to test Rovers’ Belgian.

Piroe was soon involved again in the play in the 31st minute, but this time for the wrong reasons as he was booked for fouling Scott Wharton.

After winning a corner for Rovers in the 34th minute, Sam Gallagher was booked for dissent after he kicked the ball away, in very unusual circumstances.

Swansea were awarded a goal-kick after Rovers failed to capitalise from the corner, which soon led to the hosts contributing to their own downfall, as moments after taking a goal-kick, Andy Fisher was picking the ball out of his own net. Swansea overplayed on halfway, which saw Ryan Hedges press and pickpocket Harry Darling, forcing Fisher to scramble back towards his own goal. After Hedges broke away, he did well to keep his composure and hold the ball up for the deep run of debutant Sam Szmodics. The former Peterborough United man was expertly picked out by the Welshman Hedges, before the energetic midfielder swept the ball into the bottom left-hand corner of the net for his first goal for the club, via a first-time finish, as Rovers took a 1-0 lead.

As the break edged near, Steve Martin added on three extra minutes onto the end of the first period, but they proved redundant, as neither side made use of the added time, which meant that Rovers headed into the break with the single goal advantage.

During the break, Russell Martin would have been annoyed with the manner in which his side had conceded possession to Rovers, but the former Norwich City captain would have been encouraging his side to stick to their principles and their gameplan in order to try and turn the game around.

Jon Dahl Tomasson, in the away dressing room, would have been a bit happier than Martin, but would have been quick to remind his players of the fact that the game was nowhere near over. The Dane would have been encouraging his side to keep their concentration and their determination high in order to try and increase the distance further between the two sides.

After the sides returned to the field, it was Swansea City who got the game back underway as they began the second-half in search of some inspiration to turn the game around.

In the 51st minute, Thomas Kaminski was finally called into action, as Joel Latibeaudiere forced the Belgian into a smart stop.

Swansea’s first change of the game came a minute later, as Jamie Paterson came on for Jay Fulton.

Thomas Kaminski was again requested to save Rovers’ bacon in the 53rd minute, as he pulled off another outstanding save to deny Dutchman, Piroe the equaliser.

Although the Rovers supporters had probably spent the first 12 minutes of the second period worried that Swansea were going to fly out of the blocks and continue their early bombardment at Kaminski’s goal, Ben Brereton Díaz soon brought calm back amongst the travelling contingency, as he doubled Rovers’ lead in the 57th minute following more fine work by Hedges. The former Aberdeen man picked the ball up from a Gallagher knockdown, in his own half and found the Chilean with a raking pass. The attacker shouldered the ball past Nathan Wood and into his stride, before eventually sitting Fisher down and delightfully chipping the ball over him to put Rovers 2-0 to the good.

Right after the second goal, Jon Dahl Tomasson made his first change of the afternoon, as Tayo Edun replaced the debutant, Sammie Szmodics.

In the 62nd minute, Rovers did manage to score a third, but Ben Brereton Díaz was denied due to a clear foul on Andy Fisher.

Eight minutes after Rovers were denied a third, Swansea made their second change of the game as Matthew Sorinola came on for Joel Latibeaudiere.

Swansea came agonisingly close to reducing their deficit to one in the 74th minute, but a fantastic goalline clearance from Tayo Edun denied Matthew Sorinola.

Both sides soon dipped to their benches again in the 78th and 79th minute, as Swansea introduced Cameron Congreve for Olivier Ntcham, whilst Tyrhys Dolan and Jack Vale came on to replace Ryan Hedges and Sam Gallagher.

Just five minutes after those Rovers changes, the away fans were once again sent into raptures as the newly-appointed Rovers skipper, Lewis Travis, notched a second goal in as many games to wrap the game up at 3-0 to the Blues. After John Buckley capitalised on a loose pass by the Swans, he set Tyrhys Dolan away down the right who tucked inside, allowing Lewis Travis to make a gut-busting overlap and free from any defenders, Dolan fed his skipper who, fresh off his 30-yard screamer last week, smashed in Rovers’ third via a first-time finish at the near-post.

In the 86th minute, Michael Obafemi was booked for a late foul.

As the clock began to wind down, Rovers made their final change of the game as Tyler Morton replaced John Buckley, for the Liverpool loanee’s debut for Rovers.

The game soon entered into injury time, with three minutes added by Mr. Martin, however the game’s final act came in the 91st minute, as Harry Darling looked to grab two-in-two for his new club, by releasing a similar long-range effort to the one that he had scored on the opening day away at Rotherham United, yet unlike the opening day cracker, his screamer from distance was tipped over by Kaminski, as Rovers dealt with the corner.

With time up, Steve Martin soon called time on the affair as Rovers and their travelling fans erupted in the delight of earning two wins in as many games, which capped off a perfect start for the new regime at Ewood Park.

This game, although very different to the opening day, showed that Rovers were capable of operating in different ways under a very flexible manager. This performance showed patience, concentration and a prolificacy that Rovers have at times missed on the counter-attack in recent years. Alongside their ability to attack the ball, their willingness to put their bodies on the line to keep the clean-sheet intact emphasised the shift in mentality during the early stages of the season. Furthermore, with this game sealing Rovers’ status as the only team to have a 100% record in the Championship, it showed that the players had adapted quickly to the methods and demands of their new manager.

After 120 minutes of the season, Rovers found themselves top of the tree, leading the way in 1st place with a 100% record a positive goal-difference of +4 and two clean-sheets. Here’s hoping we can see more of the same as the season progresses.

Next up for Rovers is a potential banana skin, as Hartlepool United come to Ewood Park on Wednesday 10th August, for the 7:45pm Carabao Cup First Round clash. After that tie, Rovers are again at home, as they host West Bromwich Albion at 3pm, on Sunday 14th August, before making the trip to Berkshire to face Reading in midweek, with the Select Car Leasing Stadium the destination on Wednesday 17th August at 8pm.