Swansea City earned a first Championship win under new head coach Russell Martin as they overcame Bristol City in a heated encounter at Ashton Gate.
The Swans weathered intense early pressure from the home side before Joel Piroe’s excellent first-half strike on the rebound put them ahead.
Bristol City pressed intently after the break, with Andreas Weimann among those to threaten while yellow cards piled up on both sides as tempers frayed.
The hosts’ search for an equaliser became increasingly desperate in the closing stages, with Swansea ultimately repelling their late attacks with relative ease.
Having lost two and drawn one of their first three league encounters under Martin, a first victory felt significant even at this early stage in the season as Swansea’s players and coaches celebrated at the final whistle with their large and vociferous contingent of travelling supporters.
Bristol City, meanwhile, were left to rue a litany of missed chances as they remain winless at home since January.
Nigel Pearson’s men might have been hopeful of ending that run against a Swansea side who had struggled to adapt to Martin’s intricate style of play since his arrival from MK Dons.
An ethos based on possession and a determination to play out of defence whatever the situation comes with its risks and, as Martin has only had three weeks in the job, his side are a work in progress.
That much was clear in the opening exchanges at Ashton Gate, where the visitors seemed overwhelmed by their opponents’ energetic pressing.
After just three minutes, Swansea goalkeeper Steven Benda gave the ball away trying to pass his way out of trouble and had to atone for his error by saving Matty James’ low effort.
Then after Chris Martin hit a close-range shot wide and James had a header saved, Benda surrendered possession again before diving low to his right to deny James once more.
Despite those waves of Bristol City attacks, Swansea took the lead.
Piroe received the ball on the right touchline, drove infield and fired a powerful left-footed shot which bounced off the base of the post and out to the edge of the penalty area, where the Dutchman curled in a fine first-time effort beyond Dan Bentley in the Bristol City goal.
Swansea grew in confidence after that goal and Piroe was denied a second when his close-range shot from a corner was brilliantly saved by Bentley.
Martin’s side seemed content with their half-time lead and they had to dig deep to preserve it as Bristol City seized control in the second half.
Weimann struck a shot narrowly over before flicking another from James into Benda’s hands and, as the hosts pressed for an equaliser and the noise inside Ashton Gate increased, the fiery atmosphere in the stands spilled over on to the pitch.
Swansea ended the game with six bookings and Bristol City four as referee Geoff Eltringham incurred the wrath of both sets of supporters.
And it was the travelling Swans fans who had the final say, staying long after the final whistle to serenade their victorious team and manager after a hard-earned win.
Swansea head coach Russell Martin said:
“Being brutally honest, I didn’t like some of it, I think it’s the worst we’ve been with the ball.
“We turned it over too much, we didn’t take enough care of it. We were anxious. There was a lot of tension.
“We’ve got a lot tired players, we’re on the TV and people are desperate to get that win.
“We’re going to improve on that. I think that’ll shed a lot of the tension and anxiety we had tonight.”
- 2SimpsonBooked at 36minsSubstituted forKingat 85′minutes
- 5AtkinsonBooked at 76mins
- 36ScottSubstituted forSemenyoat 60′minutesBooked at 84mins
- 14WeimannBooked at 58mins
- 16PringSubstituted forWellsat 71′minutes
- 22LatibeaudiereBooked at 67mins
- 3ManningBooked at 47mins
- 6FultonBooked at 17mins
- 8GrimesBooked at 90mins
- 24BidwellBooked at 57mins
- 20CullenSubstituted forWhittakerat 71′minutes
- 17PiroeBooked at 35minsSubstituted forLoweat 81′minutes
- Geoff Eltringham
Match ends, Bristol City 0, Swansea City 1.
Second Half ends, Bristol City 0, Swansea City 1.
Foul by Morgan Whittaker (Swansea City).
Han-Noah Massengo (Bristol City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Attempt missed. Andy King (Bristol City) header from the centre of the box is close, but misses to the right. Assisted by Andreas Weimann with a cross.
Attempt missed. Jamie Paterson (Swansea City) left footed shot from the left side of the box misses to the right. Assisted by Jamal Lowe following a fast break.
Matt Grimes (Swansea City) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Foul by Matt Grimes (Swansea City).
Han-Noah Massengo (Bristol City) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Offside, Swansea City. Matt Grimes tries a through ball, but Morgan Whittaker is caught offside.
Attempt saved. Matt Grimes (Swansea City) left footed shot from outside the box is saved in the top centre of the goal. Assisted by Brandon Cooper.
Foul by Jay Fulton (Swansea City).
Andy King (Bristol City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Substitution, Bristol City. Andy King replaces Danny Simpson.
Antoine Semenyo (Bristol City) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Brandon Cooper (Swansea City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Antoine Semenyo (Bristol City).
Substitution, Swansea City. Jamal Lowe replaces Joël Piroe.
Offside, Bristol City. Danny Simpson tries a through ball, but Chris Martin is caught offside.
Robert Atkinson (Bristol City) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.