WAYNE ROUTLEDGE’s last-gasp header saw Swansea City secure a play-off spot with a handsome away victory over 10-man Reading on a dramatic Wednesday night (July 22).
Steve Cooper’s side knew they had to win at the Madejski Stadium to have any hope of a top-six finish, and Rhian Brewster’s 10th goal of the season gave them an ideal start.
The sending off of Yakou Meite then gave the Swans a man advantage, but the Royals equalised before the half through a George Puscas penalty.
The Swans restored their lead through a classy finish from substitute Routledge, before Liam Cullen showed great composure to steer in his first goal for the club.
And when Routledge popped up at the death to complete his brace it put the Swans into the top six as Forest suffered a 4-1 defeat at home to Stoke, meaning Swansea got into the play-offs on goal difference.
The Swans started on the front foot, with centurion Connor Roberts having particular joy down the right-hand flank.
Brewster then nearly threaded Conor Gallagher in on goal after fine work by Andre Ayew, before Roberts hit a strike into the ground and over the bar after Jake Bidwell had made the overlap on the opposite flank.
The hosts responded by having a good spell of possession, probing and asking a few questions of their own.
But the visitors hit the lead in the 16th minute through Brewster. The striker picked the ball up some 30 yards out and got the ball out of his feet before smashing a long-range drive that completely deceived Rafael in the Reading goal.
John Swift curled a free-kick over at the other end, while more good work by Roberts could not quite end with Bidwell getting on the end of a deep cross before Rafael made a hash of dealing with a Gallagher cross.
Swift headed straight at Erwin Mulder from a good counter on the half-hour mark, with Ayew quickly advancing up the field to work Rafael again.
Opportunities were coming at both ends, with Mulder called into action again as Meite took aim from the left side of the area.
Swansea were riding their luck a little and had a let-off when a sliced clearance landed on top of the bar.
Matt Grimes had a free-kick pushed away by Rafael before the home side were reduced to 10 men after Meite had pushed Mike van der Hoorn in the face after a tussle for the ball.
But the hosts made light of the numerical disadvantage by levelling after Bidwell was adjudged to have fouled Andy Rinomhota, with Puscas beating Mulder – who got a hand to the strike – from the spot.
However, the Swans should have led at the break. Ben Cabango’s shot was blocked and fell to Jay Fulton, but the Scot pulled his shot wide of the target.
Rafael pushed away an Ayew drive right on half-time, with Swansea frustrated that referee Stephen Martin did not award them a penalty of their own as Fulton went down under a challenge from Omar Richards.
With Cardiff winning and Nottingham Forest losing, Cooper knew goals were needed and he made two changes at the break.
Yan Dhanda came on for Fulton, while Routledge replaced van der Hoorn, and they were immediately on the front foot.
With Swansea committing so many players forward, Reading looked to sit deep and play on the break and they proved resolute as the visitors battled to find a way through.
Grimes curled a free-kick wide of the target and Gallagher also threatened from distance, but the hour mark came and went without any clear-cut chances to show for their dominance of possession and territory.
However, when they did craft a sight of goal they took the chance clinically. Grimes produced a lovely ball, and Routledge controlled superbly to loft the ball over Rafael and into the net.
Unfortunately for the Swans, that goal went in moments after Forest had equalised against Stoke, which appeared to put a sizeable dent in their playoff aspirations.
Nevertheless, Cooper’s side continued to search for more goals in the hope events in the East Midlands would turn back in their favour.
They so nearly made it 3-1 with 17 minutes to play as lovely link play from Rutledge and Bidwell ended with Ayew steering just wide.
The situation was changing all the time, and Stoke retook the lead at Forest to leave the door ajar for the Swans.
And, when Stoke scored a third at the City Ground and Cullen coolly fired home his first senior goal for the club with six minutes remaining, they suddenly only needed a goal to finish in the play-off places.
Grimes had a deflected shot tipped over but the Swans then got the goal they needed in stoppage time as Routledge popped up to nod in at the far post, with Stoke’s fourth goal putting the matter beyond doubt a few moments later to spark delighted celebrations among Cooper, his players and his staff.
Success for Ceredigion school rugby teams at Principality Stadium
RECENTLY some Ceredigion school rugby teams have been competing at a national level at the Road to Principality event held at the Principality Stadium, Cardiff.
There was a great celebration at Ysgol Bro Teifi on Monday, 25 April following the success of their under-14 girls’ rugby team at a. Following victories in a series of games at regional and national level in recent months, the team had the opportunity to play in the national final at the Principality Stadium against Ysgol Brynhyfryd, Denbighshire.
In front of a crowd of some 150 fans who had travelled to Cardiff to see the game, Bro Teifi managed to win 34 points to 19 in a competitive and fast game.
Acting Headteacher, Mr Gareth Evans, “At the start of a new term, it was great to be able to celebrate the success of the girls on the rugby field following a run of games where the team was seen subduing Ysgol Bro Dinefwr, Plas Mawr, Bishopston and the Rhymney Valley among others. I would like to congratulate the girls on their huge success and thank the training team of Llyr James, Gemma Potter and Stephanie Gough for their work.”
Omicron: Sporting events to be played behind closed doors from Boxing Day
SPORTING events in Wales will be played behind closed doors from Boxing Day in a bid to combat the spread of the Omicron variant.
The Welsh government said the new measures apply to both indoor and outdoor sporting events, with economy minister Vaughan Gething confirming a £3m “Spectator Sports Fund” will support clubs and venues affected.
The decision comes after a number of postponements affecting Welsh sides in the Football League.
Cardiff City have called off their Boxing Day match against Coventry City due to several Covid cases among their players and staff, while Newport County will no longer face League Two leaders Forest Green.
In the United Rugby Championship, Cardiff Blues are scheduled to play Scarlets at Cardiff Arms Park on Boxing Day, although Ospreys vs Dragons at the Liberty Stadium in Swansea has been called off due to Covid.
“Sporting events over the Christmas period are one of the big highlights of the year,” Gething said.
“Unfortunately, the new Omicron variant is a significant development in the pandemic and could cause a large number of infections.
“We need to do everything we can to protect people’s health and control the spread of this awful virus.
“Throughout the pandemic we have followed scientific and public health advice to keep people safe. The advice is clear – we need to act now in response to the threat of omicron. We are giving people as much notice of these decisions as we can.
“Crowds will come back as soon as possible. We want everyone to be here to enjoy their favourite sports.”
Latest figures show Omicron cases are rising in all parts of Wales, while the overall rate of coronavirus infections is at just under 550 cases per 100,000 people.
Cardiff City have called off their Boxing Day match against Coventry City due to several Covid cases among their players and staff; Ospreys vs Dragons also off in United Rugby Championship; Welsh economy minister says clubs and venues would be supported through a £3m fund.
An EFL spokesperson said: “The EFL notes the disappointing news that fans of Welsh clubs competing in the EFL will be unable to watch their team play live at home over the festive period, but we appreciate there are many factors influencing each administration’s decision.
“Looking forward, the League will continue to work with our broadcast partners and other relevant stakeholders throughout this difficult period as we consider how we can appropriately support our Welsh clubs and their supporters so they can watch their team while matches are played behind closed doors.
“In addition, we will engage with the authorities in Wales to determine what type and or level of financial support they can provide our clubs in Wales whilst they are unable to welcome supporters through the turnstiles.”
Have your say on how Ceredigion becomes a more physically active county
A CONSULTATION is currently underway on how Ceredigion is becoming a more physically active County.
There is a plan to follow the “Sport & Recreational Activity Strategy 2014-2020” which is being developed, with an opportunity for Ceredigion residents to have their say.
Your feedback will be essential in supporting Ceredigion County Council’s production of a new development plan and in helping determine its priorities from 2022 to 2027. This will ensure that Ceredigion residents have access to quality opportunities to become more active, benefiting their physical and mental health and wellbeing.
The new plan will identify how becoming a more active county can contribute to the Council’s Corporate Strategies and the Local Wellbeing Plan.
To ensure that the plan meets the needs of all its residents, the Council would like as many people and organisations as possible to complete the survey. Residents have until 17 October to complete the survey: https://www.ceredigion.gov.uk/your-council/consultations/physical-activity-development-plan/
Councillor Catherine Hughes, Ceredigion County Council Cabinet Member for Porth Gofal, Early Intervention, Wellbeing Hubs and Culture said: “The physical and mental health and well-being of Ceredigion’s residents is very important. This is a chance for residents to have their say on how they want to receive sport and physical activities for the years to come. We recognise the impact that the coronavirus pandemic has had on sport and physical activity in the county and this is an opportunity to let us know how we can build back stronger.”
For further information or if you would like the survey in an alternative format, contact our Customer Services Contact Centre on 01545 570881 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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