Championship: Swansea City 2-0 Stoke City

It took less than 30 seconds for Yan Dhanda to make a Championship impact at Swansea City.

Just moments after being sent on by Graham Potter at Sheffield United in the opening game of the 2018/19 season, the former Liverpool youngster’s composed finish sealed a comeback victory - and a Swansea star was seemingly born.

That star hasn’t so much as shone since, but barely flickered.

In fact, in the two and a bit seasons that have followed, Dhanda’s number of league appearances falls short of 25. On the evidence of last night, it’s a baffling statistic.

The 21-year-old came into the XI for the game against Stoke City for his first start of the 2020/21 campaign. In fact, it was his first bit of game time with the first team this season, bar a brief cameo as a substitute in the EFL Cup game at Newport.

His impact was immediate, breaking from midfield, swiftly exchanging passes with Connor Roberts, and firing first time against the post.

Minutes later, he raced onto a Jamaal Lowe flick on half-way and bore down on goal, but a heavy touch at the decisive moment allowed Stoke keeper Adam Davies to scupper matters.

It is perhaps the latter which has curtailed Dhanda’s first team development thus far. His end product is not always clinical, and his slight frame can leave him physically exposed. But during his 74 minutes last night, he showed the willingness to create and a quality of movement that can only serve to stretch a defence.

He has the sort of spark that Swansea often appear to lack of late when needing to change the course of a game.

Dhanda was to fire over again in the first half before early in the second, a sublime first time flick into the path of Jay Fulton almost led to what would have been a second Swansea goal. Moments later, an exquisitely whipped right footed cross found the head of Andre Ayew.

Dhanda, in fact the home team full stop, were of course aided by a toothless Stoke display. They arrived unbeaten in five but barely laid a glove on Swansea, and James McLean’s desperate desire to kick off a late melee shouldn’t be interpreted as showing fight.

Indeed, by the time Swansea led on 30 minutes, via Fulton’s lovely dinked finish after Davies had unconvincingly pushed away a Marc Guehi cross, it was no less than Steve Cooper’s side deserved.

A half time statistic of 8-0 in shots on goal, and 5-0 in corners, told its own story.

Those figures were converted to 18-2 and 10-2 in the 45 minutes that followed. Stoke’s Davies would limp off injured, his replacement Angus Gunn fared little better as he comically handled a back pass and from the indirect free kick that followed, Ayes blasted into the 11 man wall.

The keeper did thwart Lowe from point blank range late on, but three minutes from time it was Kasey Palmer, who replaced Dhanda, that headed in Jake Bidwell’s lofted cross  - with Gunn aptly summing up Stoke’s display by clattering him after the ball had hit the net.

The result sent Swansea second, albeit temporarily. The current schedule means fixtures will continue to come thick and fast, and Cooper’s relatively small squad will be stretched.

Needing to utilise the qualities of Dhanda more often because of that, may just prove a blessing.

Swansea City: Freddie Woodman; Kyle Naughton, Ryan Bennett (Ben Cabango 74), Marc Guehi; Connor Roberts, Jay Fulton, Matt Grimes (captain), Ryan Manning (Jake Bidwell 74); Yan Dhanda (Kasey Palmer 74); Andre Ayew, Jamal Lowe.

Substitutes: Steven Benda, Korey Smith, Liam Cullen, Viktor Gyokeres.

Stoke City: Adam Davies (Angus Gunn 46); James Chester, Harry Souttar, Morgan Fox (Steven Fletcher 81); Tommy Smith, John Obi Mikel (captain), Tashan Oakley-Boothe, Josh Tymon (Tyrese Campbell 66), James McClean; Jacob Brown, Sam Vokes.