They say that goals change games and never was there a better example of this than at the Liberty Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
North End were heading comfortably into the half-time break when in the fourth minute of five added on Swansea equalised after a lapse in concentration in the North End defence.
Up to this point we were controlling the game and Swansea were having real trouble getting anywhere near Declan Rudd in the North End goal.
The goal obviously boosted the home side and in the second half, Swansea passed the ball much better and those 50/50 challenges that went our way before the break were going the way of the home side.
After going 2-1 down North End fought their way back but immediate conceded a third with another lapse in concentration. If we had put our first half chances away the game would have been over but we didn’t and were left to rue what might have been as the Swansea jinx carried on into its 58th season.
North End, in all yellow, defended the end with the noisy 412 North End fans in and looked comfortable right from the off. Joe Rafferty in at full back for the injured Andrew Hughes was the only change from the side that beat Wigan at Deepdale as Alex Neil once again went with his 4-2-3-1, something which I think caused our downfall later in the game.
PNE settled well and dominated in midfield with Ben Pearson, as usual, conducting the orchestra.
The only surprise when North End took the lead was the scorer with Joe Rafferty cutting in from the left and smashing one home from a 25 yards. It was all North End and even when Louis Moult landed awkwardly and had to be stretchered off, we were still in the ascendancy.
A couple of chances for Billy Bodin and one each for Daniel Johnson an Sean d Maguire went begging as North End failed to extend their lead and with only a minute of added time left the scores were level.
A cross field ball saw no cover in the left back position for North End and the cross was slotted home by Baston to put the sides on equal terms. The second half saw Swansea with renewed vigour and it was North End who had to do some defending.
We were not winning as much in the middle of the Park and the Swans were looking more and more threatening. In fact it was no surprise when Swansea took the lead, this time a cross from the right after Darnell Fisher and Patrick Bauer failed to halt the wingers progress and Byers slotted home the second.
North End drew level when Sean Maguire was almost poleaxed in the Swansea box, Daniel Johnson making no mistake from the spot in front of the North End fans. In no time at all Swansea were back in the lead when another cross from the right was headed home by Baston to completely knock the stuffing out of Alex Neil`s side. Now I go back to the formation and the 4-2-3-1 set up we used at Swansea.
There was little cover for both full back in front of them for most of the game and while we got away with it in the first half we may well have been better going 4-1-4-1 after the break as the Swans sailed serenely passed us, down the flanks, on too many occasions in the second half.
To be honest, I am not sure if we were unlucky in this game, were masters of out own downfall, didn’t take our chances when we had them or just lost because of too many lapses in concentration.
The truth is that it was probably a little bit of each in a location where we have not won for an unbelievable 58 years. Swansea had plenty of quality on show and while we lacked nothing in effort, it is no surprise that we are slightly struggling against teams who boast £15m players.
I think this is one we should just take on the chin and learn lessons from in a week when we have scored nine goals and conceded three. I thought Pearson was man of the match closely followed by Bodin in what was certainly a game of two contrasting halves but one that North End must definitely take some learning from if we want to be serious contenders for a place in the top six of the Championship.