Reading defensive horror show serves as timely reminder to what Swansea City fans have been saying all along

An uncharacteristically shoddy defensive showing proved costly for Swansea City as their impressive eight-game unbeaten run on home soil was ended by Reading on Saturday.

The Swans were guilty of committing basic errors which allowed Tom Dele-Bashiru, Andy Carroll and Danny Drinkwater to bulge the net and earn the Royals all three points in what was only the second Championship defeat Russell Martin’s men have suffered at the Swansea.com Stadium this term.

It ensured an encouraging week ended on a grim note while it also means Swansea are yet to end a three-game week unbeaten under the current regime.

Martin’s assessment of the goals his side conceded was damning to say the least.

“We’ve conceded three goals today where we’ve let people back inside the pitch which doesn’t happen usually. That is seriously frustrating and I’ve told the players they should be hurt by that,” said the head coach.

Prior to the most recent international break, Ryan Manning, Kyle Naughton and Ryan Bennett formed the back three in five of the six matches that saw Swansea collect 12 of the 18 points on offer.

Suspension saw Bennett miss the Blackpool draw while Manning operated as left wing-back when on the field against both Barnsley and Reading.

Ben Cabango – who impressed in his two club outings after Wales’ double header against Belarus and Belgium – was left out of the squad altogether for the defeat to Veljko Paunović’s side at the weekend.

So what has Martin said about the defensive situation?

“We have a group of players that everyone has the detail, everyone is ready to play. It’s really important that everyone stays engaged,” he explained.

“The three-game week has undone us before and it’s undone us again, so we felt we needed some energy.

“Ben Cabango’s been outstanding. He wasn’t dropped, his body was in pieces on Wednesday night after playing two 90 minutes, he hasn’t played for a month.

“It was the sensible thing [to leave him out] after speaking to the sports science and the medical department, he understands. Of course he wants to play, but he was honest on Friday morning that his body was quite sore.

“We have Rhys Williams who has been waiting patiently for his opportunity and working so hard. I’m so proud of him, he was top, which is a big test of his character.

“He’s matured a lot in a short space of time and he’s going to go back to Liverpool a better player and a better person in my opinion.

“We have a lot of options at the back now which is great for us. We have Brandon Cooper who has signed a new contract, he’s been unfortunate to not be involved more often given how he played for us earlier in the season. I think we’re flexible.”

Cooper has been particularly unfortunate not to get more game time since returning from his loan spell with Newport County in the opening half of last season while Joel Latibeaudiere has been deployed in various positions during his rare outings so far in the current campaign.

It’s unfair to expect the young trio of Cooper, Latibeaudiere and Williams to dazzle when thrust back into the limelight given their lack of consistent game time.

But the 3-2 loss on Saturday ultimately served to be a timely reminder of the message that has been preached since day one of the Russell Martin era. Trust the process.

Fans have been admirably patient since the 35-year-old was named as Steve Cooper’s successor on August 1, and even the head coach himself admits his side’s progress has been better than anticipated.

“We know where we’re at. We have a lot of work to do,” he stated.

“We’ve got to where we’ve got to really quickly, maybe quicker than expected purely down to the willingness of the players and staff to accept our ideas and to attack it with so much energy and vigour.

“Today I don’t change my opinion of the players on what we’re doing and how we’re doing it.

“It’s a bump in the road. We’ve had a bit less pain recently than I thought we might have.”

Swansea had sufficient control and goal scoring opportunities to do the business against Reading, although they were ultimately undone by some very poor defending.

But the panic button certainly won’t be hit any time soon.

The Swans do not have a midweek fixture until they host Luton Town on December 29 in what will be their final fixture of the calendar year.

That will of course be followed by a January transfer window in which Swansea are hopeful of being firmly active as they bid to add depth and quality to their squad.

Martin’s tenure is a mere four months old. Enough progress has been made in that short time for the Jack Army to remain patient as Swansea continue to adapt to what has been a significant transition.

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