2011 nPower Championship Playoff Semifinals: Reading, Swansea Advance To Wembley

Swansea City and Reading are headed to Wembley to determine who gets promoted to the Premier League

  • Live
10 Total Updates since May 16, 2011
  • Updates 10
  • All Updates 10

Cardiff City Vs. Reading, 2011 nPower Championship Playoff Semifinals: Reading Wins 3-0

With Craig Bellamy out and Reading's Adam Federici putting in a masterful performance, the Royals have advanced to Wembley Stadium to take on Swansea City in the Championship Playoff final after defeating Cardiff 3-0. The first leg ended 0-0 in Reading, seemingly setting up a scenario where Cardiff were heavy favorites to advance to the final, but Reading put together a solid performance on Tuesday evening. Though the score is a bit flattering to the visitors, they certainly did enough to win and deserve to be in the final.

Shane Long scored a brace in the first half, and both goals were partially gifted to him. He scored the first on a chip after Stephen Bywater came off of his line and failed to clear a ball and he scored the second goal on a penalty kick. Cardiff pushed forward throughout the second half but couldn't find a goal. Eventually, Jobi McAnuff put the icing on the cake with a goal in the 84th minute.


Cardiff City Vs. Reading, 2011 nPower Championship Playoff Semifinals: Reading Lead 2-0 At Halftime

Well, it's going to be tough to blame this performance on Craig Bellamy. Thanks to an rush of blood to the head of Stephen Bywater and a silly foul in the box, Cardiff City trail Reading 2-0 on the night and on aggregate at their home ground. The good news for them is that away goals are not in play in the Championship playoffs, but they have a serious uphill battle in front of them, and it's one that Bellamy's presence would have made easier.

Shane Long scored both goals for Reading, an he now has 24 goals on the season. The first came on a great finish, but the opportunity was gifted to him. In the 28th minute, Bywater rushed out of his goal to try to beat Long to a goal, but failed miserably at clearing it. Long regained possession and hit an impressive chip, hitting the back of the net to open the scoring. Just before the stroke of halftime, Noel Hunt was fouled by Dekel Keinan in the box, resulting in a Reading penalty. Long converted, and Reading now have a comfortable 2-0 lead and look to be well on their way to Wembley.


Swansea City Vs. Nottingham Forest, 2011 nPower Championship Playoff Semifinal: 3-1 Full Time, Swans Advance To Wembley

Swansea City will be advancing to Wembley Stadium for a chance to get into the Premier League in the 2011 nPower Championship Playoff Final, but they certainly didn't get there without some degree of luck. After somehow holding Nottingham Forest to a 0-0 draw at the City Ground after going down to ten men in the opening minute, Swansea have defeated Forest 3-1 in controversial and dramatic fashion to knock them out of the playoffs in the semifinals for the second year running.

Though the ending was controversial, Swansea certainly deserved to go ahead in the first place. The opening 25-30 minutes of the game were fairly even, with Swansea perhaps creating the better chances, and Lewis Britton of Swansea was the man who opened the scoring. Cutting in from the right side of the pitch on his left foot, Britton curled a great shot to the far post that Lee Camp had little chance to save.

The Swans would double their lead just four minutes after Britton's goal through Stephen Dobbie, who scored his 10th goal of the season. Forest defended poorly on the goal, allowing Dobbie to cut through them easily before placing a well taken low shot past Camp.

Forest looked like they were dead in the water for a good portion of the match after that, but everything changed when Robert Earnshaw came off the bench in the 78th minute. Just two minutes after entering the game, Earnshaw struck a great shot into the back of the net, assisted by Radoslaw Majewski, to bring Forest back within one goal. From that point to the end of the game, it was all Forest.

On multiple occasions in stoppage time, Forest appeared that they were about to find the equalizer. Sadly, it never came. First, Robert Earnshaw struck the post - one of three shots that hit woodwork for Forest - and then things got controversial. In the second minute of stoppage time, Earnshaw attempted to hit a ball across the box, but Ashley Williams blocked it with his hand. Referee Andre Marriner didn't see it, and for the second time in as many games, Williams got away with an intentional handball in the box.

In a desperation move, on the ensuing corner, Forest goalkeeper Lee Camp came forward. That move would backfire considerably, after the corner kick was cleared out to Swansea substitute Darren Pratley, assisted by an absolute whiff by Lewis McGugan. Pratley surged forward with the ball with Camp out of his goal and hit a stunning shot from at least 60 yards, hitting the back of the unprotected net to put Swansea up 3-1 and into the final at Wembley Stadium.


Swansea City Vs. Nottingham Forest, 2011 nPower Championship Playoff Semifinal: Robert Earnshaw Goal Makes It 2-1

Nottingham Forest are still in deep trouble, but they're not completely dead yet. Striker Robert Earnshaw was substituted into the game in the 78th minute, and just two minutes after entering, he hit a great strike to bring Forest back within one goal. It's currently 2-1 in favor of Swansea City, and the away goals rule does not apply in the nPower Championship Playoffs. So, if Forest can miraculously find an equalizer, this tie will be headed for extra time.

The goal came off a great team move, culminating in a great through ball from Radoslaw Majewski to Earnshaw. The Welsh international was thinking shot the second the ball came off Majewski's boot, and he took an early crack, sending the ball into the back of the net. It would be stunning to see Forest create another goal without conceding to force extra time, but crazier things have happened in the Championship playoffs.


Swansea City Vs. Nottingham Forest, 2011 nPower Championship Playoff Semifinal: 2-0 Halftime

After 45 minutes of play at the Liberty Stadium, Swansea City appear to be well on their way to Wembley Stadium to contest the 2011 nPower Championship Playoff Final for a spot in the English Premier League. They're up 2-0 on the night and on aggregate at halftime of their semifinal, second leg match against Nottingham Forest, and the visitors have looked completely devoid of ideas since Swansea broke the deadlock.

Jason Britton, who has been brilliant for the entire duration of the tie thus far, opened the scoring on the 29th minute with a great curling left-footed shot from 20 yards out. Swansea kept up the momentum and scored a second goal just four minutes later as Stephen Dobbie powered through the Forest defense and hit a low, well placed finish into the bottom corner for his 10th goal of the season. The Swans are very much in control, and it would take a minor miracle for Forest to recover at this point.


Swansea City Vs. Nottingham Forest, 2011 nPower Championship Playoff Semifinal: Stephen Dobbie Goal Gives Swans Crippling Lead

Nottingham Forest have it all to do now, as Swansea City have scored their second goal in four minutes, going ahead 2-0 on the night and on aggregate. The away goals rule is not in play in the nPower Championship Playoffs, so two goals would merely get Forest into extra time, not give them the win. Jason Britton's stunning opener was a big enough blow to Forest, but Stephen Dobbie's great second has given Swansea an absolutely massive lead.

While the first was only partially the fault of the defense, with Britton deserving more credit than anyone deserved blame, the second goal absolutely should have been dealt with. Dobbie had three defenders ahead of him when he picked up the ball outside of the penalty area, but he somehow managed to beat all three of them as Luke Chambers and Wes Morgan let Dobbie run right throw them, then place a low shot into the back of the net.


Swansea City Vs. Nottingham Forest, 2011 nPower Championship Playoff Semifinal: Jason Britton Goal Puts Swans Up

Swansea City's little central midfielder Jason Britton put in a brilliant shift in the first leg and he got off to a brilliant start in tonight's game against Nottingham Forest, and he's arguably been the most influential player over the first 120 minutes of play in this 2011 nPower Championship Playoff Semifinal tie. So, it's only fitting that he's the man who has scored the opening goal, putting his team ahead 1-0 and doing what each team's strikers have failed to do thus far.

Based on the fantastic goalkeeping and last ditch defending so far in this tie, it felt like it was going to take something truly special for either team to score, and Britton has delivered it. In the 29th minute, during a patient Swansea build-up, Forest's defense anticipated a pass by Britton and gave him entirely too much room. From the left side of the penalty area, he cut inside on his left foot and took a fantastic curling shot with his left foot, putting the ball into the back of the net from 19 yards out.


Swansea City Vs. Nottingham Forest, 2011 nPower Championship Playoff Semifinal: David McGoldrick Hits Crossbar

Swansea City and Nottingham Forest are off to an absolutely blazing start, and we can only hope that both teams can keep 11 men on the pitch for an extended period of time, unlike the first leg. Both teams have had fantastic opportunities so far, but just like last week's first leg, neither team has been able to capitalize. However, it's early in this one, and it would be stunning to see a tie with this many shots and attack-minded players go much longer without a goal being scored.

Thanks to the fact that they have 11 men and Stephen Dobbie on the pitch, Swansea have been able to press forward a great deal early, creating a number of shots in the first five minutes. Forest's defense is working hard, though, and they already have two blocked shots.

Forest's best chances are probably going to be on the counter, if the first five minutes are any indication. Nathan Tyson and David McGoldrick have great pace, and they showed it off in the fourth minute. Following a poor corner kick by Swansea, Tyson broke out, sprinting past the Swansea defense. Once he got to the right side of the 18 yard box, he played a ball across for McGoldrick, and his shot stuck the top of the crossbar, going out for a goal kick. Swansea got seriously caught out on the counter, and will have to reconsider who they commit forward on set pieces.


Swansea City Vs. Nottingham Forest, 2011 nPower Championship Playoff Semifinal: Lineups

Nottingham Forest win the 'stunning lineup' contest for the year, as they will be deploying a 4-3-3 that does not include either Robert Earnshaw or Kris Boyd. Both strikers looked dangerous in the first leg of this tie, though neither scored, and both have a wealth of big game experience, with Earnshaw having scored well over 100 goals in English football and Boyd having played in Europe and Old Firm derbies with Rangers. They have both been omitted for tonight's game against Swansea City, who have zero surprises in their lineup.

Swansea City lineup (4-2-3-1): De Vries; Tate, Monk, Williams, Rangel; Allen, Britton; Dyer, Dobbie, Sinclair; Borini

Substitutes: Ma-Kalambay, Serran, Gower, Orlandi, Moore, Beattie

Nottingham Forest lineup (4-3-3): Camp; Morgan, Chambers, Gunter, Moloney; Moussi, Cohen, McGugan; Tyson, McGoldrick, Tudgay

Substitutes: Smith, Lynch, McKenna, Anderson, Majewski, Boyd, Earnshaw

The game kicks off at 2:45 pm ET, 7:45 pm local time and can be seen on Fox Soccer Plus and FoxSoccer.tv in the United States.


2011 nPower Championship Playoffs: Swansea City Vs. Nottingham Forest, Cardiff City Vs. Reading, Second Legs

The English Football League Championship playoffs are among the most entertaining set of matches anywhere in world football on a year to year basis, but the first legs of the 2011 playoffs left the fans feeling unsatisfied and wanting more. Both ties ended in 0-0 draws, but neither had a lack of scoring chances. Poor finishing and great goalkeeping kept the scores level, setting up some potentially close second legs. As it stands, the chances of a Welsh team making it to the Premier League look high, as both Swansea City and Cardiff City take draws back home, where they will be favored against their respective opponents, Nottingham Forest and Reading.

Swansea will be without 22-year-old defender Neil Taylor, who was shown a straight red card for a challenge just a minute into the first leg. Swansea have appealed his suspension, but there's a good chance that's not getting reversed ahead of Monday's game, mostly because Taylor actually put his studs into the thigh of Lewis McGugan, and the incident was not a figment of Mark Halsey's imagination.

While Swansea will not have Taylor available, veteran Garry Monk is more than capable. They were actually the better side for about half of the first leg, despite playing on the road with 10 men, so they will be favorites at home, as they should have 11 men for more than one minute . Striker Fabio Borini, who was substituted out for a slight knock as a precaution, is expected to return to the starting lineup. He will be flanked by speedy wingers Nathan Dyer and Scott Sinclair, who looked great in the first half of the first leg.

Forest have a variety of dangerous strikers, but none of them were able to hit the back of the net last week. They're likely to regret that, as the team as a whole and Robert Earnshaw in particular will probably have less shooting opportunities than they did in the first leg. However, if they can find shooting opportunities, Earnshaw and Kris Boyd finish more often than not.

Cardiff should be favorites in the other match, but they're in a bit of a race against the clock to find out how heavy of favorites they are. That's because the extent of Craig Bellamy's hamstring injury still isn't 100 percent certain, and he's currently a game time decision for the second leg of their playoff semifinal against Reading. Bellamy was substituted out in they first half of the first leg, but his injury was not serious. What's yet to be determined is if it was so minor that he can play again less than a week later.

Reading have a clean bill of health, so for them, it's all about getting their players on form. Shane Long was lethal in front of goal this season in the Championship, but he didn't look like a 20-plus goal scorer in the first leg. Reading's chances of advancing hinge heavily on Long's ability to score, and he's going to have to step up his game if the Royals are to get back into the Premier League.

Log In Sign Up

Log In Sign Up

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior users will need to choose a permanent username, along with a new password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

I already have a Vox Media account!

Verify Vox Media account

Please login to your Vox Media account. This account will be linked to your previously existing Eater account.

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior MT authors will need to choose a new username and password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join SBNation.com

You must be a member of SBNation.com to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at SBNation.com. You should read them.

Join SBNation.com

You must be a member of SBNation.com to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at SBNation.com. You should read them.




Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.