Swansea boss Brendan Rodgers proud of battling side

Swansea boss Brendan Rodgers praised his players after their 0-0 draw at Nottingham Forest in the Championship play-off semi-final first leg.

The visitors survived Neil Taylor's second-minute dismissal, for a lunge on Lewis McGugan, but had to dig deep.

Rodgers said he had no complaints over the red card and instead focused on the brave display that followed.

"It was a brilliant performance. To lose a man so quickly is obviously difficult," Rodgers said.

"Nottingham Forest are an outstanding side but I thought my players deserve all the credit, they were absolutely brilliant and deserve all the plaudits they get."

Just 90 seconds had elapsed at the City Ground when Taylor caught McGugan on the thigh with his studs as both players went into the challenge with raised feet.

McGugan got to the ball first but was sent tumbling by the Swans defender and, with the home crowd baying for punishment, referee Mike Dean pulled out his red card.

"I can see why Mike has given it," Rodgers said. "I thought the officials were very good, I thought they were excellent tonight.

"That is something that Neil will have to learn from, the ball has bounced and contact wasn't quite as bad as it looked when you see the replays.

"But his foot was up, he sort of caught him in the abductor and in the emotion of the game he goes off.

"We had to regroup, restructure the team quickly and get organised because at moments like that you can feel sorry for yourself.

"But we do a lot of work at playing against overloads and we've seen that tonight, because the mentality, the confidence was still in the group - and it helps if you can pass the ball."

Rodgers was forced into sacrificing forward Stephen Dobbie to introduce defender Garry Monk from the bench, who then formed an impregnable centre-back pairing alongside Alan Tate, with Ashley Williams moving out to the left.

Up front Swansea had willing runners in the shape of Fabio Borini, Scott Sinclair and the excellent Nathan Dyer, who all broke with pace and ambition when opportunities arose.

Borini was later forced off after the on-loan Chelsea striker went down off the ball clutching the back of his leg.

The fear was that it was a hamstring problem that would rule him out of Monday's second leg back at Swansea's Libery Stadium fortress, but Rodgers was optimistic the injury would not turn out to be serious.

"I think it was just that initial wee bit of cramp more than a hamstring but we won't know for sure until tomorrow [Friday] when we assess it," Rodgers said.

Now all thoughts turn to Monday evening, with the winner earning the right to go to Wembley and challenge either Reading or Cardiff City for a place in the Premier League.

"Obviously we love playing at home so we're really looking forward to the game," Rodgers added.

Swansea boss Brendan Rodgers punches the air after their battling draw at Forest
Swansea boss Rodgers had no complaints about the red card

"It's 0-0 and they've won their last away game, Nottingham Forest, 3-0 so they've got players that can hurt you.

"We just know it's going to be a really tough game but, as we've seen all season, we love playing at home. We're very confident playing at home."

Forest boss Billy Davies felt the red card had actually worked in Swansea's favour, although the Scot believes they could pay for their exertions in the second leg.

"Although I think it was a red card, at the time I was disappointed because I knew they would start defending deeper and that wouldn't help us," insisted Davies.

"Having been a 10-man team and played against 10 men on many occasions, it becomes very difficult and in the first half we were pedestrian and too slow.

"The second half was much better, we had several chances and we just needed a goal.

"But I said before the game, win lose or draw, it is only half-time, and that is still the case.

"There is still lots to play for and I am full of optimism for the second game. It is still a very open game that can go either way.

"I think physically they will be the more tired. We knew we should have got a goal or two, but I will not need to lift these players at all. This game was never going to be over at half-time in the tie.

"Big credit to Swansea for the way they played with 10 men, but it was a big physical ask of them."

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