Hearts beaten by Swansea in bounce game29 November 2022
The Jambos returned to the pitch on a chilly afternoon in Gorgie after some time-off during the World Cup break, with an experienced squad featuring in the first 45 whilst younger members of the squad, along with B Team players, made up the second half XI.
First half goals from Jay Fulton and Joel Piroe saw Swansea City claim victory, whilst Euan Henderson notched in the second half as the Jambos pulled one back.
Robbie Neilson opted for a back five in the first half with Craig Halkett, Toby Sibbick, and the returning Stephen Kingsley occupying the central defensive positions – with Alex Cochrane and Michael Smith filling the wing-back positions as Zander Clark made a first appearance between the sticks.
That left a central midfield duo of Robert Snodgrass and Orestis Kiomourtzoglou whilst Jorge Grant and Alan Forrest took the left and right midfield positions respectively, as Lawrence Shankland led the attack as the sole striker.
The Welsh side knocked the ball about with real fluidity in the opening minutes without causing Hearts any initial issues. Craig Halkett looked strong and composed in the central defensive role as he mopped up Swansea’s neat intricate passes.
Jamie Paterson tried to draw first blood when he attempted a neat, dinked ball forward to Joel Piroe, but Clark was out fast of his line to intercept and clear before the danger could manifest.
It was the Swans though, eighth in the English Championship, that took the lead after 12 minutes. Some more of that quick and one-touch passing on the deck culminated in Jay Fulton, son of 98’ hero Stevie, slipping through and sweeping a sweet effort into the bottom left corner of Zander Clark’s goal from the right side of the area.
Just two minutes later, Swansea would claim a second as they dealt the Jambos a sucker punch. Some more persistent probing saw Ryan Manning claim a corner. The Irishman sent the resulting cross down into the Hearts area – with the ball falling as far as Joel Piroe on the edge of the area who sent a second, placed, effort into the net.
Hearts quickly gathered themselves for a response. Robert Snodgrass played a marvellous cross-field ball to Michael Smith on the right. The Northern Irishman whipped a teasing cross across the face of goal, and, after a bit of pinball, Joel Latibeaudiere booted the ball to safety.
Swansea were relentless with the ball, quickly turning over possession and storming up the park on the counter. Paterson was a menace, and soon saw his swinging free-kick cleared. The clearance fell as far as Manning who ballooned his first time effort over the bar.
Joel Piroe thought he had a third after 38 minutes when another Manning cross was turned in past Clark, with the linesman’s flag quickly up for offside. Paterson kept raining crosses into the Hearts area, with Manning watching on as his glancing header smashed into the seats of the Gorgie Stand.
A more youthful side took to the field in the second 45 with Ross Stewart in goals as Lewis Neilson, Connor Smith, Euan Henderson, and Finlay Pollock got minutes.
Pollock and Smith brought real ingenuity to the Hearts midfield as the youthful Hearts side began the second 45 on the front foot.
Swansea still threatened though, and Ross Stewart was called into action to tip a vicious Ben Lloyd shot over the bar.
With 69 minutes played, Hearts pulled one back through Euan Henderson after catching Swansea ‘keeper Andy Fisher off his line, allowing him to round him and roll the ball into an empty net.
Hearts First Half XI: Clark, M. Smith, Kingsley, Halkett ©, Grant, Kiomourtzoglou, Shankland, Forrest, Cochrane, Sibbick, Snodgrass
Subs: Stewart, Kirk, Thomas, Gordon
Hearts Second Half XI: Stewart, Darge, Forrester, Neilson, Henderson, McLuckie, Sandilands (Thomas 82’), C. Smith, Denholm, Pollock (Kirk 82’), Tait (H.Gordon 82’)
Subs: Clark, Kirk, Thomas, H. Gordon
Swansea First Half XI: Benda, Manning, Fulton, Grimes ©, Paterson, Cooper, Piroe, Cundle, Laith, Wood, Naughton
Subs: Fisher, Ogbeta, Cullen, Oko-Flex, Stevens, Sorinola, Lloyd, Congree, Abdulai, Cotterill, Jones
Swansea Second Half XI: Fisher, Ogbeta, Cullen ©, Oko-Flex, Stevens, Sorinola, Lloyd, Congree, Abdulai, Cotterill, Jones