By David Williams
Steve Cooper was grateful to come away with a point as his Swansea City side missed a chance to move into the automatic promotion places in a 1-1 draw at Blackburn Rovers.
Andre Ayew scored his fourth penalty in as many games to draw Swansea level moments after Bradley Dack’s 37th-minute opener, but Ayew’s spot-kick was the Swans’ only shot on target as they were left hanging on in the second half.
The point is enough to move them level with second-placed Watford, still with a game in hand on the Hornets, and head coach Cooper was grateful to take at least something from the game given how many chances Blackburn created.
“It could have been worse,” he said. “We’re a point better off with one of these games in hand. If sometimes you don’t play well, you make sure you don’t lose.
“I am going to focus on the positives, knowing that we can play better.”
The Swans also lost defender Marc Guehi who came off at half-time with a groin injury.
Blackburn were on the front foot from the very start, appealing for a penalty within a couple of minutes and creating chances as Dack, Ben Brereton and Tyrhys Dolan combined to good effect.
Swansea struggled to build any momentum, with Cooper admitting it was well short of the performance levels he wants – and will need to see – if they are to come out on top in what looks like a battle for second place behind Norwich in the Sky Bet Championship.
“Certainly in the first half I didn’t like us at all. That’s not the team I want us to be in terms of our style, our identity,” he said.
“If we’re going to make mistakes we’ve got to do it our way. That wasn’t the case in the first half and it needed addressing in the second, which was a little bit better but not brilliant.
“I didn’t love the game, I certainly didn’t love our performance but credit to Blackburn, they played well.
“We are picking up points, which is not a bad habit, and I cannot question the lads’ commitment and attitude, there’s players there who have played a lot of games.
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“I’m not sitting here elated, because we have drawn and not played so well, but I won’t dwell on it as it’s a tough schedule. We have picked up a point in one of our games in hand.”
Things certainly would have been worse but for the nerve of Ayew, who once again converted from the spot after Jay Fulton went down under a challenge from Sam Gallagher.
“Before the Stoke game I think we’d only had two penalties and now we’re up to five,” Cooper said. “I haven’t seen it back, but I’m just pleased we’re getting into those positions.”
Asked about Ayew’s conversion rate, Cooper added: “I don’t want to say anything, I don’t want to give it the kiss of death. We’ll talk about it at the end of the season.”
While Cooper was grateful to leave Ewood Park with a point, Tony Mowbray was left frustrated that a good performance was not rewarded with all three.
After a seven-game winless run came to an end at Millwall at the weekend, few would have grumbled if they had made it back-to-back victories here on the balance of play.
“I think the performance level is what we’ve been getting,” Mowbray said.
“We’ve played against a decent side and were in the ascendency for most of the game. I think we deserved better.
“There was enough to suggest we could have won it, scrambling around in their six-yard box a few times, so it’s a bit frustrating.
“We can beat anybody in this league and tonight we nearly beat the team who could be second.”