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16:04 6th February 2010

Super Swans stroll to victory over Prest

The Swans picked up an important three points against Preston as the play-off push intensifies.

Paulo's home side controlled this affair from start to finish but had to wait until just before half-time to break the deadlock when David Cotterill curled a free-kick into the top corner.

The winger turned provider moments after the interval when another set-piece was deflected into the net by Ashley Williams.

There were chances to further extend the lead, the impressive Cotterill beating Lonergan again but striking the foot of the post shortly before the end.

Leon Britton returned to the starting eleven but Angel Rangel missed out through injury.

The midfielder replaced Jordi Lopez in the line-up while Rangel, who had an ankle injury, was replaced by Alan Tate.

Another change in midfield was Joe Allen coming in for Andrea Orlandi and out wide Tom Butler was switched with Cotterill.

Swans:Dorus de Vries; Alan Tate, Garry Monk(C), Ashley Williams, Fede Bessone; Leon Britton, Joe Allen (Andrea Orlandi, 88'), Darren Pratley, Nathan Dyer, David Cotterill (Tom Butler, 79'); Gorka Pintado (Shefki Kuqi, 72').

Not Used:David Cornell (GK), Lee Trundle, Mark Gower, Jazz Richards.

Preston: Andy Lonergan, Michael Hart, Eddie Nolan (Darren Carter, 64'), Youl Mawene, Sean St. Ledger (C), Billy Jones, Paul Coutts, Keith Treacy (Jon Parkin, 51'), Neil Mellor (Ross Wallace, 51'), Chris Brown, Danny Welbeck.

Not Used: Wayne Henderson (GK), Neill Collins, Liam Chilvers, Chris Sedgwick.

Attendance: 14,659

Referee: P Gibbs (West Midlands)

The sun was beating down on the Liberty Stadium surface as the home side took early control of this contest.

Preston gifted the Swans possession straight from the kick-off with the ball finding its way back to Dorus de Vries - it found its way out to the returning Joe Allen in midfield who picked out Nathan Dyer down the right with a well struck pass.

The wide man won his side a corner with just 48 seconds on the clock, the delivery clattering the crossbar but the referee, who took charge of the same fixture last season, blew up and penalised the attacking Swans for a challenge on 'keeper Andy Lonergan.

Attack was on the brain of the home side with even Ashley Williams getting in on the action with a strong surge from the back.

Dyer was a constant thorn in the Preston's side with his pace and quick thinking causing Darren Ferguson's men a problem, and it was he that completed a fine right-sided move which saw Gorka Pintado connect with a cross and flash a header wide on 14 minutes.

Joe Allen even fancied his chances as he turned his man and shot wide of goal barely 60 seconds later.

But there were two teams in this contest, but Preston had to wait until there was 18 minutes on the clock as they conjured up their best chance of the opening quarter - full debutant Keith Treacy picking out Chris Brown inside the area with a free-kick only for the striker to head over the top of de Vries' goal.

Normal service resumed as the home side went back on the offensive and with 22 minutes played another excellent move on that right side created an opening. Dyer was sent surging to the byline, chasing a Pratley pass after playing a one-two with the midfielder, and his low cross flashed across goal with a slight touch from Lonergan affecting the ball's trajectory away from the incoming Pintado.

And shorlty before the half-hour Pratley and Dyer combined again, the latter latching on to Pratley's through ball and grounded through a combination of challenges from Lonergan and Youl Mawene - the home crowd wanted a penalty but Mr. Gibbs waved play on before stopping play as Lonergan received treatment for a facial injury picked up through his committed challenge.

Ten minutes before half-time and all of that possession paid off - David Cotterill was brought down inches outside the area and won a free-kick, he'd taken one from a similar position earlier in the half and was off target, this time he made no mistake as it curled over Preston's wall and found the top corner of the net.

Pratley had a second penalty appeal turned down shortly after the re-start while the Swans just kept the majority of possession for the remainder of the opening period, frustrating their visitors in the process.

The Lilywhites did offer a response in the closing stages with two set pieces into the area but nothing that caused too much concern for Swansea City.

Half-Time: Swans 1 Preston

The visitors had struggled to cope with what they were up against in the first-half and within 90 seconds of the re-start the task could have been made more difficult as the Swans came close to making it two.

Nathan Dyer flashed across goal and past the post after running on to Gorka Pintado's flick, but within minutes of that chance the home side did have their second.

It came from another free-kick, this time Cotterill was provider as his near post delivery was flicked past Lonergan by the head of Ashley Williams to score his third goal of the campaign.

But back fought Preston; Ross Wallace was introduced from the bench and despite picking up a booking within three minutes of his arrival he brought extra width and pace to Darren Ferguson's side, and won corners and free-kicks in dangerous positions down the left side.

The Swans' defence held out, though, with most of the actio centering in the visitors' half of field as the hosts went searching for a third.

Fede Bessone fired high and wide but the five across midfield continued to create chances which continuously kept the majority of the 14,659 in attendance on the edge of the seats.

Preston did have the ball in the net as substitute Jon Parkin's strike was ruled out for offside, while down at the other end Joe Allen came closing to making it three when his long range strike was pushed away by Andy Lonergan 20 minutes from time.

And after Shefki Kuqi was introduced in place of Gorka Pintado the young Wales international was gifted another chance, this time hooking it over the top from 10-yards.

Opening goalscorer Cotterill came even closer on 78 minutes, Joe Allen teeing him to strike from 25-yards where his thunderous effort beat Lonergan but bounced back off the post.

The Swans were making this encounter look easy and just after he was replaced by Tom Butler to a standing ovation the ball was back in the Preston area again, Darren Pratley's delivery picked out Kuqi only for the Finnish striker to deflect a header wide.

Last week's signing also did well to shrug off the challenge of Sean St. Ledger to keep the ball in play on the right and charge down on goal as the game approached injury-time, his final touch was a little too heavy and it rolled straight into the hands of the 'keeper.

Andrea Orlandi almost had the final say but he couldn't get his shot away before the referee called time on this clash, the Swans cementing their top-six spot and drawing level on points with rivals Cardiff.

    Data provided by Press Association