SWANSEA CITY bounced back from a difficult FA Cup weekend by running riot at the Liberty Stadium with an emphatic win over Northampton.
Two goals in as many minutes set up a brilliant night for the Swans as they dominated from start to finish against the Cobblers.
With two goals and a brilliant assist, Jason Scotland was clearly the man of the match but it was a night where every player deserved credit for a superb team performance.
After a humbling 1-1 draw against Horsham on Friday, it was back to business in the league last night.
The Swans have now emerged unbeaten from their four games in 10 days and, while they may have an FA Cup replay to deal with next week, three straight league wins have left them sitting pretty at the top of League One.
And, after their first consecutive home wins in the league this season, Roberto Martinez’s men are finally starting to show fans they have what it takes to turn the Liberty into a fortress.
That’s something they will most certainly need if they are to turn their promotion dream into a reality.
Martinez made eight changes from the side that drew with Horsham on Friday. While skipper Garry Monk had to miss out with a sprained knee, the Spaniard welcomed back, among others, inspirational midfielder Ferrie Bodde and joint top scorers Scotland and Paul Anderson.
Both sides made bright starts to the game. But after a couple of half chances for the visitors, it was Swansea who created the first decent one after six minutes.
Some good chasing from Anderson earned the Swans a throw-in high up the right flank and his quick thinking soon gave Angel Rangel a decent crossing opportunity.
The Spaniard floated in a dangerous ball but, despite being given a free header, Scotland couldn’t keep his effort on target.
It was a clear warning to the Northampton defence but one they clearly didn’t pay attention to.
Both Anderson and Scotland were looking lively after their rests at the weekend and the skilful striker atoned for his previous miss with a brilliant opener 10 minutes later.
Anderson was once again involved as he drilled in a low cross from the right. Northampton failed to clear it properly and, when Leon Britton’s persistence in the box saw the ball come through to Scotland, the Trinidad and Tobago international smashed an acrobatic volley past Mark Bunn to put Swansea 1-0 up with his ninth goal of the season.
Scotland turned provider just 90 seconds later when he beat the Cobblers’ offside trap and surged on to a hopeful long ball from Alan Tate. He then delivered a perfect low cross which allowed Darren Pratley to smash a superb first-time shot past Bunn, who was yet again left helpless in the visitors’ goal.
Swansea’s second goal in as many minutes didn’t just double their lead, it also gave a clear indication of the free-flowing football Martinez has desperately been trying to get his side to play at the Liberty this season.
It seemed Northampton might be in for a long night as the Swans looked to prove a point about just how dangerous they can be at home.
Sure enough, Martinez’s five-man midfield were bossing the game at this point. And if the visitors did manage to get on the ball, Dennis Lawrence was having one of his better games at the back, giving them little opportunity to trouble Dorus de Vries.
To their credit, despite being on the ropes, Northampton recovered to create their best chance of the first half after 39 minutes when Andy Kirk jumped well to get a decent header on target from Danny Jackman’s corner. De Vries was able to make a comfortable save though and it wasn’t long before Swansea were on the front foot again.
In fact Scotland should have scored his side’s third from the very next attack. He was put through one-on-one with Bunn by a cheeky flick from the lively Andy Robinson but his normally clinical finishing deserted him and the Northampton keeper was able to make a comfortable save.
The visitors did manage to get the ball in the net just before half time but Kirk’s neat finish was quickly ruled out for offside. That was the last act of the half and, in all fairness, Gray’s men could probably consider themselves lucky to be going in only two down.
The Swans started the second half in an equally adventurous fashion and they had the ball in the net after just four minutes. Unfortunately it was Robinson’s turn to have his goal disallowed and the crowd would have to wait for what looked to be an inevitable third goal.
But Swansea weren’t having it all their own way after the break and Northampton started to look a bit more dangerous on the attack. Admittedly they weren’t really looking like they would score, but it was enough of a threat to warn Martinez’s men not to get complacent.
But the Spaniard doesn’t allow for complacency and there were no signs of it as first Scotland and then Anderson were denied by good saves from Bunn.
While Scotland went for power having been slipped in by a lovely ball from Bodde, Anderson went for precision when he intercepted Guy Branston’s poor clearance.
Bunn was up to the challenge on both occasions. But he had little hope when the third goal finally did come as a result of the corner he conceded when he palmed Anderson’s effort round the post.
As the ball was floated in, Branston was adjudged to have fouled Lawrence in the air and referee Steven Cook had no hesitation in awarding a penalty.
Scotland stepped up to calmly slot the ball past Bunn for his tenth goal of the season.
With three points in the bag, the Swans went into cruise control. But they could have had more as Tom Butler, Scotland and Anderson all went close in the latter stages of the game.
Northampton tried to push forwards but, in all honesty, their challenge ended as early as the 18th minute when Pratley scored Swansea’s second.
Scotland, the hero on the night was taken off to a standing ovation after 88 minutes and his team-mates held on to complete what was by far their best performance at home this season.