Premier League:

Swansea City 1–1 Crystal Palace

It was billed as a must win game for Swansea City - but in the end caretaker manager Leon Britton would have been relieved to have avoided defeat after a superb late strike from Jordan Ayew earned his side a point against Crystal Palace at the Liberty Stadium.

After another turbulent week at the club following the sacking of Paul Clement on Wednesday night, a much improved Swansea fell behind to Luka Milivojevic's controversial 60th minute penalty.

But 13 minutes from time it was Ayew who unleashed a rising effort from outside the area that found the top corner for his first Premier League goal since scoring away at Palace in August.

The Swans went in to today four points adrift at the bottom following Monday's defeat at Everton, and knowing they could ill afford to lose further ground with a tough run of fixtures looming.

And for 45 minutes, the home side were much improved in terms of intensity, direction and width. The atmosphere, boosted by the inevitable acclaim of Britton from the East Stand, reached a fervour that had been sadly lacking at the Liberty thus far in the campaign.

However, synonymous with Swansea’s lack of threat this season, there was little in the way of goalmouth action.

In the opening two minutes, Alfie Mawson failed to react quickly enough after fellow centre back Federico Fernandez headed a Tom Carroll free kick into his path – and Luciano Narsingh had strong appeals for a penalty turned down by referee Craig Pawson after being clumsily bundled down by Jeffrey Schlupp in the Palace area.

Indeed, it was the running of Narsingh and Nathan Dyer down the flanks that signified Swansea’s best moments in the opening 45 minutes – but still the hosts failed to muster a shot on Julian Speroni’s goal.

Palace meanwhile, with Wilfried Zaha at the heart of their play going forward, looked dangerous on the counter and Lukasz Fabianski was forced into an early low save from Scott Dann’s header – before the Polish keeper had to be at his very best to tip away Andros Townsend’s effort after the winger had cut in from the left and unleashed a curling shot towards the far top corner.

Ruben Loftus-Cheek also whipped an effort past the far post when well placed to do better, and one mazy Zaha run ended when an off balance Fernandez fortuitously managed to head the ball out of the forward’s path whilst tumbling to the ground.

But after a quiet opening to the second half, Roy Hodgon’s side seemingly delivered another hammer blow to Swansea’s survival, albeit in controversial circumstances.

On the hour mark, Loftus-Cheek brushed past Fernandez in the area before going down under minimal contact – and whilst referee Pawson was well placed to award the penalty, on the basis of Narsingh’s rejected first half appeal, it appeared a soft decision.

Milivojevic stepped up and coolly put The Eagles ahead from 12 yards.

The goal at least stirred Swansea into a first effort on target, as Narsingh’s chipped pass was well controlled by Tammy Abraham, but from a tight angle the striker could only fire at Speroni who diverted his effort wide.

However, with time running out and a 13th league defeat appearing on the cards for the home side, came Ayew’s moment on intervention.

The Ghanaian, who had replaced Narsingh midway through the second half, picked up possession 20 yards from goal and turned Milivojevic, before drilling a right foot shoot that flew past Speroni and into the top corner.

Just seconds later he nearly repeated the feat, sending another long range effort a yard past the post.

In injury time, with the home crowd urging them forward, Britton’s side threatened again but Speroni flew bravely off his line to beat Abraham to Dyer’s low cross.

It meant a point apiece and 90 minutes that for Britton, and the Swansea players and supporters, at least signified a point and small improvements on recent displays.

But with the side still four points off 17th placed Bournemouth, and a trip to Watford sandwiched between home games against Liverpool and Spurs to come over the Christmas and New Year period  - Swansea will soon need more than small improvements.

Swansea City: Lukasz Fabianski, Kyle Naughton (Angel Rangel 79), Federico Fernandez (capt), Alfie Mawson, Martin Olsson, Sam Clucas, Tom Carroll, Roque Mesa, Luciano Narsingh (Jordan Ayew 66), Tammy Abraham, Nathan Dyer.

Subs not used: Kristoffer Nordfeldt, Mike Van der Hoorn, Renato Sanches, Jay Fulton, Oli McBurnie.

Crystal Palace: Julian Speroni; Martin Kelly, Scott Dann (capt), James Tomkins, Jeffrey Schlupp, Luka Milivojevic, Yohan Cabaye (Bakary Sako 76), James McArthur, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Andros Townsend (Patrick Van Aahnolt 85), Wilfried Zaha.

Subs not used: Wayne Hennessey, Pape Souare, Timothy Fosu-Mensah, Jason Puncheon, Jairo Riedewald.

Referee: Craig Pawson.

Assistant referees: Lee Best and Richard West.

Fourth official: Kevin Friend.

Attendance: 20, 354.