Barnsley FC 0 Swansea 2: Fresh start, same old story for Poya Asbaghi's Reds

THE maiden speeches of Poya Asbaghi were encouraging enough.

Action from Barnsley's game with Swansea. Picture: PA.

Barnsley’s new head coach spoke about his players needing to graft twice as hard as other teams amid their current strife at the foot of the Championship and referenced working for a town whose inhabitants ‘have got nothing for free’ and prize industry.

He even name-checked two Reds legends in Barry Murphy and the incomparable Norman Rimmington. All well and good and crowd-pleasing enough.

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Demanding and assertive were two key words also used to describe the character of the 36-year-old, someone with ‘clear leadership’ and ‘tactical authority’ according to chief executive officer Khaled El-Ahmad.

It was a fair build-up ahead of his first-game in charge. But those who came along wanted to see actions from Asbaghi's charges, dynamic change and not words - as striking as his utterances were.

They got next to nothing en route to a meek tenth loss in 11 matches which had the distinct smell of a debilitated side down among the dead men.

Events underlined the herculean task facing Asbaghi. A fresh start maybe, but more of the depressing same old.

As starts go, it was one of the flattest and most underwhelming you possibly could imagine for any new face in the dug-out.

Swansea took their time about it, but struck when it mattered through goals in the final quarter from substitute Oliver Ntcham and Jamie Paterson as Barnsley's plan to hang in there and try and nick something was eventually found out.

Alongside his rallying call, Asbaghi also tellingly spoke of a side whose confidence was low and warned that his side might ‘suffer’ at the hands of a Swansea side who are comfortable on the ball across the pitch and gorge on possession. Unfortunately, he was on the money.

Swansea boasted around 80 per cent on the ball all night and the suffering extended to home supporters who had next to no nourishment to savour, despite commendable encouragement which deserved better once again

As for the first half. Aside from the fact that the hosts kept a clean sheet and looked solid enough in their shape without the ball, there was nothing else whatsoever.

It was hard to comprehend that just 191 days ago, these two sides were three games away from the Premier League. Much of what has gone on since has not exactly been smooth for either. At least Swansea, for their sakes, are going the right way again.

That it took almost 45 minutes for the Swans to manufacture a chance was handy enough given Barnsley’s current plight. But going forward, Barnsley’s impotent offering was much more open to censure. They created absolutely nothing of note or threat.

Happy to stroke the ball around and wait for any gaps that might appear and wear down the hosts, Swansea - while not being convincing - were stoic in their patience.

They were almost rewarded before David Webb called time on an unremarkable half with the well-stationed Callum Styles blocking Ethan Laird’s header at the back post before Joel Piroe drilled a low shot wide when he should have done better.

Attacking the Pontefract Road end where the home faithful were congregated, the hope was that it might inspire some proactiveness from those in red in front of Swansea’s goal on the restart, with Ben Hamer given the first-half off.

Fifty-three minutes had elapsed before traces of life were found when Devante Cole got away from Kyle Naughton to tee up Cauley Woodrow, but his effort was blocked by a covering defender and Hamer gathered without undue alarm.

Asbaghi’s first intervention saw Aaron Leya Iseka and Carlton Morris called for - which also had the effect of lifting the crowd - with Josh Benson then firing a free-kick over as Barnsley started to tantalisingly hint at something at long last.

After a couple of incursions before the break, Swansea reverted to type on the restart and knocked the ball about between the thirds without really seeing the whites of Barnsley keeper Brad Collins's eyes.

But after the midway point, they started to get the message and gradually showed signs of being more urgent in their approach work as the half progressed and it reaped a dividend.

Two replacements combined with Ntcham turning in an excellent low cross from fellow substitute Ryan Manning, a rare moment of offensive quality on a poor night.

A second soon put Barnsley out of their misery with Paterson giving too much space before burying a clinical low shot into the net.

Barnsley: Collins; Brittain, Helik, Moon, J Williams; Palmer (Oulare 77), Benson, Styles; Frieser (Leya Iseka 57), Woodrow, Cole (Morris 57). Substitutes unused: Walton, Gomes, Sibbick, Adeboyejo.

Swansea City: Hamer; Cabango, Naughton, Bennett; Laird, Grimes, Downes (Ntcham 64) Bidwell (Manning 72); Smith, Paterson; Piroe (Cullen 86). Substitutes unused: Benda, Latibeaudiere, Walsh, R Williams.

Referee: D Webb (Co.Durham).