Liam Cullen and Olivier Ntcham give Swansea victory over Bristol City
Swansea beat Bristol City 2-0 to surely remove any lingering fears of being dragged in to the Sky Bet Championship relegation battle.
Liam Cullen and Olivier Ntcham were on target as Swansea claimed a first win in seven games and move 10 points above 22nd-placed Huddersfield with eight games remaining.
Bristol City are two points better off than Swansea following a third defeat in five games, as the Robins’ bid to avoid their season ending with a whimper.
The Robins did little to trouble Andy Fisher, a goalkeeper under pressure after recent mistakes, although Andreas Weimann saw a stoppage-time effort disallowed for offside as Swansea claimed a first clean sheet of 2023.
Swansea were fourth in the table after beating Welsh rivals Cardiff in October and hoping to mount a promotion challenge.
But a miserable run of three wins in 21 games since had seen them edge ever closer towards the relegation scrap.
Bristol City had won an FA Cup replay here in January, but Swansea’s need for a fast start was greater and Joel Piroe fired wide from an angled position after 11 seconds.
Cullen wasted a sixth-minute chance as he failed to control Liam Walsh’s clever pass in front of goal and Ryan Manning saw his drilled effort blocked by Zak Vyner.
Robins goalkeeper Max O’Leary was tested for the first time just before the half-hour mark when Harry Darling met Matt Grimes’ diagonal ball at the far post.
O’Leary pushed out Darling’s header and Cameron Pring blocked Walsh’s follow-up effort.
The visitors’ reprieve did not last long as Walsh found Olivier Ntcham and the Cameroon midfielder released Cullen who stretched to fire home his seventh goal of the season.
Mark Sykes shot straight at Fisher from 25 yards before Bristol City’s best opening came in the dying embers of the first half.
Alex Scott reached the byline with a lovely piece of skill and set up Andy King for a shooting opportunity that Piroe snuffed out.
The pattern of the contest remained the same after the interval with Cullen just clearing the crossbar and Piroe heading against a post.
Bristol City sent on Weimann and Anis Mehmeti to provide an attacking threat, and Fisher was forced to collect Omar Taylor-Clarke’s drive from distance.
Weimann was also convinced Ben Cabango handled inside the penalty area, but referee Jeremy Simpson was unmoved.
Swansea put the contest to bed 13 minutes from time when Ntcham strode through a tiring Robins midfield.
Jamie Paterson’s cross was headed back by fellow substitute Morgan Whittaker, and Ntcham neatly switched the ball on to his right foot to beat O’Leary with comfort from 14 yards.