Cooper bemoans Bidwell dismissal in draw at Bristol City
Swansea created the best of what few chances there were at Ashton Gate.
Steve Cooper insisted Swansea defender Jake Bidwell was unlucky to be sent off in the closing stages of a full-blooded goalless draw at Bristol City.
The head coach had no issue with the full-back’s late lunge on Niclas Eliasson as the winger looked to break down the right being ruled a foul, but he felt the punishment did not fit the crime.
Swansea created the best of what few chances there were in a defence-dominated game. Bristol goalkeeper Dan Bentley had to produce the best save in the second half when Andre Ayew broke clear and moved menacingly into the box on the right.
But, despite plenty of effort from both sides, there was too little end product and the dismissal of Bidwell, with stoppage time seconds away, proved to be the main talking point.
“It was a foul and an obvious yellow card, but to send Jake off was a poor decision,” said Cooper. “Their bench reacted, which may have influenced the ref, but he should have been stronger.
“I have spoken to him and he told me his assistant felt it was a red card. Whatever the case, most people who saw the incident would have thought a caution sufficient.
“I don’t like to see players sent off. Bristol had a defender booked early and he committed a couple more fouls after that, but not enough to justify a sending-off.
“He stayed on the pitch quite rightly. But both teams should have finished with 11 men. I will look at the process and the history of appeals before deciding whether to make one.
“It was a good performance by us but, the way the game went, an average result. We played like the home team, especially in the second half.
“I have a lot of time for the way Bristol play and for Lee Johnson, but no one could argue about who was on top for most of the match.
“We defended really well and I have no complaints with any of the players.”
Swansea were particularly dominant after the break and went close from several corners against a Robins side forced into an early reshuffle when centre-back Nathan Baker was forced off by a tight calf muscle.
Johnson sent on striker Famara Diedhiou as his replacement, moving wing-back Tommy Rowe into the back three on the left.
Bristol City’s head coached disagreed with Cooper over the red card.
“From where I was standing it looked as though there was an intention to hurt Niclas, rather than just impede him,” he said.
“It could have been a yellow card, but if it had been, they would probably have got away with one. I don’t think an appeal would be successful.
“It was a day when two workmanlike sides went toe-to-toe. I would have been disappointed with a draw before the start, but the way the game went a point each was probably about right.
“We have so many players out injured at the moment. Benik Afobe suffered a freak injury in training this week and you could hear the snap when his ACL was damaged.
“He will have a scan before we decide whether he stays with us or goes back to Stoke, but it is a bad one and we are looking at the possibility of making a free signing to replace him, having been approached by some agents.
“In the meantime we have to soldier on. We came up against a good side today and I expect Swansea to be up there challenging all season because Steve Cooper is doing a great job.
“Nathan Baker came off as a precaution, but it is another concern we could do without.”
Substitute Diedhiou went closest for Bristol, sliding in to meet a Callum O’Dowda cross in the 38th minute and seeing his close-range effort graze the far post.
But it was one of few goal efforts for Johnson’s men, who were by far the happier with their point.