City and Swansea predictably cancelled each other out in another stalemate at the Liberty.
The Robins were rocked by losing keeper Dean Gerken, skipper Louis Carey and in-form striker Nicky Maynard to illness before kick off, meaning an enforced change in shape and personnel.
Despite not having the players to successfully revert to a 4-3-3, City had to simply role with it for the first time this season.
In came transfer-listed keeper Adriano Basso, Bradley Orr returned in place of Brian Wilson at right-back, Lee Johnson replaced Cole Skuse and there was a debut handed to Evander Sno on the left.
Most surprisingly of all was winger Ivan Sproule being chosen to flank Saborio in attack, with David Clarkson left on the bench.
The game was subject of an organised boycott from City fans as a result of the South Wales Police forcing our fans to, yet again, travel under ‘bubble restrictions’. As a result, only 239 hardy souls made the 80-mile trip over the bridge and hopefully our point has been made for the last time.
Having seen an earlier effort from Swansea’s Joe Allen go over the top on 5, City hit their stride and nearly stole an early lead on 12 minutes.
Jamie McAllister’s corner was met by Liam Fontaine only for Swans’ keeper Dorus se Vries to scramble away off the line.
Shortly after, Sproule was unlucky to see his deflected cross-shot come off Alan Tate and spin just wide of the post.
Evander Sno, being deployed in an unfamiliar left-sided role, came closer still with a rasping effort that flew inches wide of the upright after cutting in onto his favoured right-peg.
Following an encouraging start, Swansea grew in stature before the break and started causing problems of their own with Bristolian Nathan Dyer blazing just wide from a tight angle.
Debutant Cedric van der Gun came closer still, when his flicked header grazed the post from an Orlandi corner seven minutes before the interval.
Swansea were the better side after the break but failed to create any more chances of note, with another van der Gun header forcing Basso into a close range save and substitute Craig Beattie doing likewise on 75.
City’s second half performance offered unsurprisingly little in attack with Saborio heading straight at De Vries from a Sno cross.
Jordi Lopez then raced onto a Leon Britton through ball but failed to beat Basso and saw Lewin Nyatanga hack clear as it trickled towards goal.
But City were unlucky not to steal it at the death when Saborio squared the ball to Skuse six-yards out but he shot straight at De Vries from point blank range.
SWANSEA: (4-3-2-1) De Vries, Tate, Bassone, Williams, Richards, Orlandi (Bodde 69), Lopez, Allen (Britton 78), Dyer, Pintado (Beattie 65), van der Gun.
CITY (4-3-3): Basso, Orr, McCombe, Fontaine (Nyatanga 71), McAllister, Hartley, Johnson, Elliott (Skuse 69), Sno (Clarkson 85), Sproule, Saborio.
Referee: Dean Whitestone (Northampton)
Adriano Basso 6
Did a professional job despite being on the transfer list. Despite Swansea’s pressure, he was rarely tested but made two good save when he had to.
Bradley Orr 7
We looked a lot more solid down the right-hand side with Bradders in the side. Dependable at the back.
Jamie McAllister 6
Had his hands full with the pace and trickery of Nathan Dyer down his side but was defensively sound. Produced some quality corners that nearly made the breakthrough.
Liam Fontaine 7
Another top game from Fonts at the back until being forced off with an ankle injury in the second half. Good on the floor and positionally.
Jamie McCombe 6
Don’t really know why he was selected with no big man to mark and duly struggled against the pace and skill of Spaniard Gorka Pintado.
Paul Hartley 6
Really could’ve done with a rest playing in his fourth game in ten days and it showed. Struggled to get his radar going but also didn’t really have an outlet in front of him.
Lee Johnson 5
Worked hard again but simply isn’t up to scratch at this level. He was often hustled off the ball and struggled for time and space in the midfield.
Marvin Elliott 6
Passed a late fitness test following a knock to his foot at Coventry and wasn’t at his combative best. Quiet game by his high standards.
Evander Sno 7
Tough role for the on-loan Dutchie on the left but was the best player on the pitch. Took up good positions but was always looking to get the ball onto his favoured right.
Alvaro Saborio 6
Nothing to go on for the Costa Rican. Towed the line well on his own but lacked support or clear chances on goal and found the going tough as a result.
Ivan Sproule 5
Largely anonymous on the right and would’ve been better used as an impact sub. Came close in the first half with a deflected effort though.
Cole Skuse 6
Unlucky to be dropped given the knocks to Elliott and Hartley but was neat and tidy when he came on. Had a glorious last-gasp chance to win it but shot straight at the keeper.
Lewin Nyatanga 5
Good to see him fit again after a bought of mumps but had little to to.
Didn’t make an impact with five minutes to go but then again, not many players would have. Should’ve started if he was fit enough for the bench.
GARY JOHNSON – 5/10
Had his hand forced somewhat with the injuries and illnesses that decimated the squad but still could’ve done better with the players at his disposal.
David Clarkson was benched when we only had one recognised striker out there, as was Cole Skuse following a string of impressive performances in midfield.
A bolder team selection would’ve probably yielded a better result.
PAULO SOUSA – 6/10
Didn’t do much wrong. Swansea looked the better, more balanced side and were unlucky not to take the three points after an impressive second half. Also had an impact with his substitutes in the second half.
Good Point In The Circumstances
This was a winnable game on paper against a Swansea side that have had a stuttering start to the season.
But, with the illness bug sweeping through the camp at the moment, we were down to the bare bones tonight and a drab goaless draw was about the best we could hope for.
Swansea’s never an easy place to go at the best of times, let alone without half a first choice team, and they played well tonight. Even though we enjoyed the marginally better chances, a draw is a commendable result given the circumstances.
Bubble Must End
The South Wales Police are a joke. They must be the only force in the country who still enforce bubble trips on us yet they couldn’t be bothered to do it when the Gas went to Cardiff in the Carling Cup earlier this season!
For too long now they’ve forced City fans to travel to games against Cardiff and Swansea on bubble trips, making unecessary long days out of, what should be, short journeys.
Fair play to the 239 who could be bothered to go but even that was 239 too many. The boycott spoke volumes about what our fans think about it.
The sooner we’re allowed to go off our own backs and make this lazy excuse for a Police force earn their treble time, the better.