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Dublin: 9°C Thursday 25 February 2021
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Hourihane grabs Swansea equaliser on league debut while McCarthy's reign opens with draw

A great start to life at Swansea for Conor Hourihane.

Conor Hourihane and his Swansea team-mates celebrate.
Conor Hourihane and his Swansea team-mates celebrate.

CONOR HOURIHANE’S LATE free-kick secured a 1-1 draw with Brentford to take 10-man Swansea back into the Sky Bet Championship automatic promotion places.

Thomas Frank’s side dominated for large spells at the Liberty Stadium and finally found the breakthrough thanks to substitute Tarique Fosu’s header after Kyle Naughton saw red for two bookable offences.

But Cork man Hourihane hauled the Swans back into the contest against the odds with a wicked free-kick from out wide that evaded everyone before finding the back of the net.

The dramatic draw moved the Welsh side back into the top two on goal difference, while it is now 17 matches since the Bees last tasted defeat.

Despite the Swans’ impressive 5-1 FA Cup defeat of Nottingham Forest at the weekend, Steve Cooper reverted to the tried and trusted formula that had guided them into promotion contention.

The only change from their Championship victory over Barnsley came in midfield, where Hourihane was handed his full league debut after impressing in the cup.

The Republic of Ireland international started in place of Korey Smith, who missed out due to a quad strain.

The hosts had won four and drawn one of their last five matches, but Brentford’s form remains unrivalled in the division.

It had been 16 games since Frank last tasted defeat in the league, and he stuck with his in-form charges as Josh Dasilva returned in midfield in place of Saman Ghoddos in the only change since their last league outing.

Both sides spent the opening 20 minutes feeling one another out in this high-stakes contest at the Championship summit, until an accurate 60-yard cross-field pass from Ethan Pinnock cut through the Swansea defence.

Rico Henry took a deft touch to bring the ball down and set up a shooting chance only to watch his effort slide just wide of the far post.

Hourihane and Kyle Naughton both saw yellow as the hosts felt the pressure, but they held firm to go in 0-0 at half-time.

Brentford received a boost in their bid to breakdown the solid Swansea defence in the 68th minute when Naughton was shown his second yellow card for a late challenge on Sergi Canos.

They made their man advantage pay five minutes later when Henrik Dalsgaard found Fosu unmarked with an accurate cross for the substitute to head home from six yards out.

But the 10 men of Swansea fought back immediately to equalise in the 78th minute after Mads Sorensen fouled Jamal Lowe down the left flank.

David Raya failed to punch Hourihane’s whipped free-kick away, and had to watch on as the ball eluded everyone in the box and found the corner of the net.

The Swansea players laid their bodies on the line to deny a late barrage of Brentford pressure, sealing their return to the top tow, with Ryan Manning brought on for a brief cameo on 90 minutes. Irish U19 attacker Alex Gilbert was on the Brentford bench.

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Elsewhere, a four-goal thriller at Barnsley finished 2-2 as Mick McCarthy’s Cardiff fought back from being two goals down at Oakwell in the former Irish boss’ first game at the helm.

Ahead at the break courtesy of a Mads Andersen header, the Tykes doubled their lead after the interval as Cauley Woodrow scored from an Alex Mowatt free-kick.

Sheyi Ojo then pulled one back for the Bluebirds just before the hour mark. Kieffer Moore followed and equalised for Cardiff from a free header with a little over 20 minutes to go.

barnsley-v-cardiff-city-sky-bet-championship-oakwell Mick McCarthy on the line tonight. Source: PA

Callum O’Hare set up both goals as Coventry ended a near two-month home drought with a 2-0 win over struggling Sheffield Wednesday at St Andrew’s.

O’Hare threaded Brighton loan striker Viktor Gyokeres clear to put Coventry ahead just before the hour mark and added a precise pass for Jamie Allen to seal the points in stoppage time.

Gyokeres’ strike, his first since joining on loan earlier this month, ended a barren run spanning five-and-a-half hours and three goalless draws for the Sky Blues at their temporary home.

Victory moved Coventry up to 17th, six points clear of the drop zone, where Wednesday – the division’s lowest scorers after firing another blank – remain rooted in 23rd, six points from safety.

Keiran Westwood started for Wednesday with Kilkenny’s Ciaran Brennan on the bench, while Jordan Shipley came off the bench for Coventry.

And Rotherham gave their chances of avoiding relegation from the Sky Bet Championship a major boost as they claimed an emphatic 3-0 win at Middlesbrough.

The Millers remain in the bottom three but have moved to within two points of 21st-placed Derby thanks to goals from Matt Crooks, Michael Smith and Ryan Giles.

Middlesbrough have now lost three home games in the space of a fortnight, a run that has made a major dent in Neil Warnock’s side’s promotion ambitions.

Trevor Clarke was among Rotherham’s substitutes.

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