Swansea City stretched their unbeaten Championship run to nine games by beating Nottingham Forest in dramatic fashion.
Here are the talking points to emerge from the game at the Liberty Stadium.
Chris Hughton sums up Swansea’s mentality
Steve Cooper was quick to acknowledge that his side were not at their best on Wednesday night and admitted even he felt the game was destined to end 0-0 late on.
Forest will rue their missed opportunities. Lewis Grabban got into some dangerous positions to strike while Anthony Knockaert also skimmed the top of the crossbar following a well-worked corner routine in what was the final act of the first half.
However, Swansea showed the kind of mentality that has seen them continue to collect points this season, even when far from their best.
And while being bitterly disappointed not to have got something from the game, Chris Hughton’s post-match press conference perfectly summed up the traits that Cooper’s side possess.
“I thought the result was cruel on us,” he said.
“I thought we were the better side for the majority of the game but Swansea have showed why they are where they are because they weathered our storm and then grabbed a late goal.
“They are a side who don’t concede many goals, particularly here, and they are where they are because of the quality they’ve got but I thought we were far better than we were in the home game against them earlier in the season.
“In the last 15 minutes it looked like Swansea were happy with the draw and we had plenty of chances at the end and we have to show more composure in those areas.
“We have individuals who can take those chances but we have played two top teams in the last two games so that’s why it has been more difficult for us.
“Swansea are a good defensive side who recover well and with Lewis’s chance they had bodies back quickly to make sure they didn’t concede.
“Swansea are a fine example of a team that can grind out results even when they don’t play well and we need to get to that.”
High praise indeed from Mr Hughton.
Neighbours deliver again
Jake Bidwell recently spoke about the realities of living next door to team-mate Connor Roberts.
The wing-backs are positioned on opposite flanks of the pitch for the Swans, although Bidwell’s late cross to Welshman Roberts was delivered as well as if he’d have been dropping off a pint of milk to his neighbour’s front door.
Bidwell was among those to be far from his best against Forest, although he registered his seventh assist of the campaign in the 87th minute to play a key role in his side’s winner.
Swansea are somewhat different to their promotion rivals in that they don’t have an Ivan Toney or a Teemu Pukki in their ranks. Granted, Andre Ayew is something of a talisman, although the Ghanaian’s efforts go way beyond his goals.
But others are stepping up to the plate this season when it comes to doing the business at the top end of the pitch, not least Swansea’s two first-choice wing-backs.
“It was like Ned Flanders crossing for Homer Simpson to score the winner,” Roberts said about his partner-in-crime Bidwell.
“Bidders is great and we get along really well, so I’ll be thanking him for a while for his assist.
“He’s got a quality left foot and we know that he’ll put the ball into the right area, so it’s up to the rest of us to get onto the end of it.
“He’s got another assist, I’ve got another goal and we’ve got three points, so it’s a perfect outcome!”
Strength in depth becomes evident
When the team lineups were announced, many fans were quick to focus on the options Swansea had on the bench rather than those who were selected to start.
During Cooper’s tenure, Swansea have often had numerous inexperienced academy players listed among the substitutes, something that happened on a regular basis earlier on in the campaign.
However, after a hugely productive January transfer window, Cooper now has the options at his disposal to cope with the gruelling schedule that lies ahead.
The introduction of Jordan Morris against Forest afforded Cooper with the rare opportunity to tweak his formation, although his attacking substitutions – with Paul Arriola also being sent on – didn’t exactly pay off as the visitors looked the more likely to score in the final stages.
As far as the future is concerned though, it served as clear proof that Swansea are far better equipped to cope should one or two players pick up injuries in the coming months, while they are now able to make the kind of in-game tweaks that may have been far more difficult prior the turn of the year.
Cooper has often been criticised when it comes to substitutions, and while the alterations he made against Forest didn’t improve Swansea’s chances of getting something from the game, his intent was rewarded after he opted to replace defender Kyle Naughton with an attacker.
The head coach has little more than a third of the campaign to go, and he’ll have plenty more bold decisions to make as his side look to overhaul Norwich City and Brentford in the top two.
Records remain in sight
Freddie Woodman wasn’t overly troubled by the Forest attack, although he did the basics well once again to play his part in yet another Swansea clean sheet.
The Newcastle United loanee has now kept a league high of 16 shutouts in the Championship this term, three more than Reading’s Rafael who is the next best performer in the division.
It means he is just nine off the Championship (since the league was re-branded in 2004) record of 25 set by Paddy Kenny at Queens Park Rangers during the 2010/11 campaign.
Swansea have conceded just 15 times in 28 league outings this season while they have only let in six goals in 14 Championship matches at the Liberty Stadium which fully emphasises just how tough a task it is for visiting sides to leave south Wales with something to show for their efforts.
Ironically, Huddersfield Town – the only side to beat Swansea at the Liberty in the league this season – are up next, although following Swansea’s latest act of defiance, there’s no reason why Cooper’s men can’t seek revenge over the Terriers on Saturday afternoon.