Michael Laudrup reckons Swansea’s supporters should receive T-shirts with “I was there when Swansea got a penalty” after referee Phil Dowd turned down their 93rd-minute request against stubborn West Ham.
With just seconds remaining at the Liberty Stadium, Joe Cole appeared to handle Nathan Dyer’s cross with his right arm yet Staffordshire official Dowd, despite fierce protests from Swansea’s players, refused to point to the spot. Laudrup’s side gained a penalty – their first in 56 league games – last weekend against Sunderland, but lightning did not strike twice.
Laudrup said: “The relationship between Swansea and penalties is not good. We had one last week after 50-something games – maybe we should get the fans T-shirts saying ‘I was there when Swansea got a penalty’.
“There was a lot of the emotion at the end about the penalty not being given. I always say a referee or linesman only has one second but it is so clear when you have your arm up like that. If you have your hand down you can talk about ball to hand but when it is up, you know if the ball touches you, nine times out of 10 you have a penalty.”
Sam Allardyce, the West Ham manager, did not attend the post-match press conference due to a flight back to London. Yet, in truth, Swansea did not deserve maximum points after struggling to find a way through West Ham’s 4-6-0 formation.
Much has been made of Allardyce’s decision in recent weeks to play without a recognised striker but, following the superb 3-0 win at Tottenham in their previous away fixture, those tactics were out in force once again.
But, rather than be seen as a negative way of setting up his side, Allardyce or his new Italian self-acclaimed nickname of “Allardici”, saw his side play to their strengths and shade the opening 45 minutes.
The Hammers boss had clearly viewed Swansea’s Neil Taylor, easing his way back to full fitness following a nightmare injury-ravaged 12 months, as a potential area to exploit.
Stewart Downing, more comfortable on his left foot than right, was deployed against Taylor and the England international created the first chance, cutting inside his marker and forcing Michel Vorm into turning his well-drilled low shot around the post.
That brought into play West Ham’s main strength – set-pieces. With a height advantage, the precise delivery from Downing and Mark Noble caused trouble for the home side, Guy Demel hoofing over on the slide to spread nerves in the Swansea defence.
For Swansea to overcome this tactic, Michael Laudrup’s men required sharp and quick passing to bypass the congested midfield area. The home side came close to breaking the deadlock three minutes later when Chico Flores rose highest from Jonathan de Guzman’s corner, but his header hit Jussi Jaaskelainen and rebounded to safety.
Within 20 seconds, West Ham almost capitalised. Mohamed Diame, one of the six midfielders on show, galloped the length of the field in a quick-fire counter-attack and supplied Ravel Morrison, who dragged his shot wide of Vorm’s left-hand post.
From that moment, the Hammers controlled proceedings at their own tempo. Angel Rangel saved the day for Vorm by clearing Razvan Rat’s deep free-kick off the line after Kevin Nolan flicked a header past the Dutch goalkeeper, who came and punched thin air.
West Ham should have taken the lead before the interval. Diame headed Downing’s free-kick over before Nolan screwed wide following a centre from substitute Matt Jarvis, on for the injured Ricardo Vaz Te.
Allardyce abandoned his tactics after 64 minutes to open the game up and Laudrup responded within two minutes with the introduction of Bony.
The arrival of the Ivorian forward almost worked as his snap shot brought the best out of Jaaskelainen after Rangel headed away from goal before the hotly disputed “handball” incident occurred.
Swansea (4-3-3): Vorm 5, Rangel 7, Chico 7, Williams 7, Taylor 6; Britton 7, de Guzman 6, Michu 6; Dyer 7, Vazquez 5 (Bony 66, 7), Routledge 5 (Hernandez 61, 6)
West Ham (4-6-0): Jaaskelainen 7, Demel 7, Reid 6, Tomkins 6, Rat 6; Downing 6, Morrison 5 (J Cole 78), Nolan 6, Noble 8, Diame 7 (C Cole 64, 6), Vaz Te 5 (Jarvis 34, 6)
Booked: Demel, Morrison, J Cole
Referee: Phil Dowd (Staffordshire)
Match rating: 5/10
Man of the match: Mark Noble (West Ham)