Sinclair ends drought as Swans soar at last

Swansea City 3 West Bromwich Albion 0: First League win for Rodgers' men provides a little solace on emotional day
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The Independent Online

Having spent six hours waiting for one score, three came in quick succession at Liberty Stadium yesterday as Swansea City not only ended their goal drought but won their first game of top-flight football in 28 years. The win saw Swanseajump to 12th in the table, while West Bromwich take their place in the bottom three.

During an emotional prelude to the kick-off, another capacity crowd paid their respects to the four miners who lost their lives in a pit accident at the nearby Gleision colliery, and also to the father of the Swansea manager, Brendan Rodgers, and the Albion youth player Blake Melbourne, both of whom passed away last week.

It has been a sombre week for the Swansea fans, many of whose families have been involved in the mining industry for several generations. For Rodgers too, who had missed last weekend's defeat at Arsenal after learning of his father's passing less than 24 hours prior to the game, it was a week that put footballinto perspective.

But he welcomed a first victoryin five games. "I thought we thoroughly deserved to win, it was a very complete performance,"he said.

"We have now had three clean sheets in five games, and todaywe got the rub of the green at theother end. "We wanted to play the same way and the only way we know, and I thought we did that. We made a good start and the goal settledthe crowd.

"After that, I thought that some of our play against a very good side with a top-class manager was excellent. However, we won't get carried away with that. We have to enjoy the win and then turn our attention to Stamford Bridge. It was an emotional day, but I hope the performance and the victory helps in some small way."

That they had gone so long without scoring was perhaps the most surprising statistic of their first season in the Premier League. After all, with the exception of those teams who have gone goal-crazy in the opening weeks of the season, few sides have shown greater ambition.

On this occasion, they were equally ambitious, using genuine pace and extreme width to threaten an Albion side who, having survived one or two close shaves in the opening quarter, finally caved in after 13 minutes when Paul Scharner upended Joe Allen. Scott Sinclair, whose hat-trick at Wembley in May earned Swansea the right to mix it with the game's leading lights, stepped up and beat Ben Fosterwith ease.

An inexplicable miss from Shane Long after Neil Taylor's equally wayward pass just about summed up Albion's toothless start. Taylor mistook the Irish striker for one of his own team-mates, and was mighty relieved when Long sliced his shot high and wide.

Ninety seconds later the visitors were two down. A corner from Mark Gower was headed goalwards by Sinclair, and despite the attentions of Steven Reid and Youssuf Mul-umbu, Leroy Lita rose to nod home at the far post.

With Leon Britton taking charge of the midfield and Lita causing endless problems in the air, it came as no real surprise when Swansea made the game safe three minutes into the second half.

A decent ball forward was flicked on by Lita, and though Nicky Shorey appeared to have shackled Nathan Dyer's lung-busting break, the diminutive winger stole a march on his marker and duly beat Foster at his near post.

Albion's predictability and lack of penetration in midfield meant that there was unlikely to be a way back into this contest for them. Chris Brunt did beat Michel Vorm with a header from 15 yards, but the referee, Martin Atkinson, had already whistled for offside.

To their credit, they did pose one or two set-piece questions, but Vorm, whose blunder had cost his side a point at the Emirates seven days previously, was tested only once. James Morrison was on target with a free-kick, but the Dutchman leapt to palm the ball to safety.

Fresh legs gave Swansea the impetus to regain control, with Wayne Routledge playing the role that Dyer had adopted with such success. Unfortunately for Rodgers, he was forced to replace Taylor when the Welsh international full-back collapsed in a heap after a challenge from Peter Odemwingie.

After careful attention from the medical staff, Taylor left on a stretcher. However, Swansea had little difficulty in seeing out nine minutes of stoppage time and giving the locals a positive end to a difficult week.

Swansea (4-5-1): Vorm; Rangel, Williams, Monk, Taylor (Bessone, 81); Dyer (Routledge, 70), Gower, Britton, Allen, Sinclair; Lita (Moore, 70).

West Bromwich (4-4-2): Foster; Reid, Dawson, Olsson, Shorey; Morrison, Scharner (Cox, 67) Mulumbu (Dorrans, h-t), Thomas (Brunt, h-t); Long, Odemwingie.

Referee: Martin Atkinson

Man of the match: Britton (Swansea)

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