Russell Martin, Swansea City v Stoke City - Sky Bet Championship

Russell Martin, Swansea City v Stoke City - Sky Bet Championship. Pic: Getty Images.

Swansea City Boss Russell Martin Concedes: We’re Anxious But I Hope Fans Can See The Bigger Picture

By Hannah Blackwell

Swansea City head coach Russell Martin has admitted his team is playing with anxiety after they slumped to another defeat.

The Swans lost for the fourth time in their last five games as they crashed to a 3-1 home defeat to Stoke City, having led 1-0 early on.

It leaves them still in 12th place in the Championship, 11 points clear of the relegation zone, but Huddersfield, in 22nd place, has a game in hand.

“We are paying the price for a really poorly managed 20 minutes,” said Martin, whose team have won just three of their last 17 games.

“You have to earn territory and we needed to beat their press better and get in behind them. But there was a lot of anxiety out there and we gave them too much hope and energy by giving away the ball too easily.

“We showed character in the second half but this group will a lot from that. Sometimes with a young team you have go through some painful lessons.”

There were boos among home fans at the final whistle and Martin admitted he could understand their frustration.

“I understand that. You don’t want to hear it but you understand it,” he said.

“It’s really difficult because it’s been a tough moment for us in so many ways. Results-wise it’s been tough, but we’re sitting 12th in the league with the youngest team in the league and the smallest squad in the league.

“We have a really clear way of doing things that’s filtered throughout the club into the under-21s and under-18s.

“People don’t care about the big picture, I understand that, but we were given three things to develop when we came here.

“It was to bring back the Swansea Way that people spoke about, it was to promote young players from within or to find young talent at a good price that we can help develop and turn into assets, and I think those two boxes are ticked.

“The other one was to try and get as close to the play-offs as possible.

“The budget is far lower than where we are in the table now. I get the negativity because so many people at the club have felt it as well in the weeks after January. It’s football, people only see the result. I totally get that.

“We care and we have as much love for the people at this club because we see them work every day. We care just as much as them (supporters).”

Stoke eased their own relegation worries with the win as Josh Laurent scored his first league goal for the Potters.

Laurent’s first-half double and a stoppage-time third from substitute Lewis Baker lifted Stoke two places to 17th in the Sky Bet Championship.

Morgan Whittaker had given Swansea the perfect start inside two minutes, but Russell Martin’s side ran out of ideas before Baker added the late icing to Stoke’s first away league win road since December 17, as Swansea stay 12th.

Stoke failed to clear a free-kick and Whittaker, making his first league start for Swansea since May 2021, chested down Matty Sorinola’s pass and fired home off the underside of the crossbar.

Laurent brought parity by bundling home from close range after 15 minutes following some pinball in the Swansea penalty area.

Four minutes later Laurent was celebrating again after Tyrese Campbell had cut the ball back into his path. He was left completely unmarked 15 yards out and made no mistake with a clinical finish.

Matija Sarkic’s superb one-handed stop denied Joel Piroe an equaliser, and the Stoke goalkeeper also held onto a Manning effort as home pressure grew.

Swansea boss Martin made a tactical switch on 31 minutes, withdrawing central defender Harry Darling for midfielder Olivier Ntcham and switching to four at the back.

The ploy appeared to have little effect initially as Dwight Gayle forced Andy Fisher into a double save at his near post.

However Stoke were then sliced open as Matt Grimes, Cooper and Manning combined to create a chance which Whittaker sidefooted wide.

Former Swansea loanee Ben Wilmot had the opportunity to punish his old club, but the defender sent a free header wide from a few yards out.

There was no flow to the start of the second half as the contest was punctuated by countless fouls and a rash of yellow cards.

Referee Andy Woolmer was in danger of relinquishing control and Stoke lost Campbell after the striker suffered a heavy fall with his head taking the impact.

A stretcher was called for, but Campbell returned to his feet and continued for a few minutes before being substituted much to his displeasure.

Fisher produced smart saves to foil Gayle and Jordan Thompson before Stoke’s superiority was further rewarded when Jacob Brown scampered clear to set up Baker.

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Give Us Time And We’ll Get There . . . Swansea City Boss Russell Martin Insists The Team Is On The Up

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