Ashley Williams Swansea City's defensive solidity against West Ham
ASHLEY Williams has hailed Swansea City's defensive solidity after they withstood a barrage of West Ham long balls to keep a clean sheet.
Swansea claimed a point following a goalless draw at the Liberty yesterday.
Though Michael Laudrup's side hoped for more against a side beneath them in the table, Williams insisted there were positives to take from the performance.
The most obvious was that they prevented a physical Hammers outfit from scoring.
As expected, West Ham adopted a direct approach that involved pumping high balls into the Swansea area towards the likes of Kevin Nolan and Mohamed Diame.
The visitors were particularly dangerous from set-pieces and defending such situations has been a weakness of Swansea's in the past.
Though there were a couple of scares, like when Angel Rangel was forced to head off the line, Swansea survived the aerial onslaught.
And Williams took particular satisfaction at the fact that Michel Vorm finished the match unbeaten.
"I'm very pleased with the clean sheet but obviously we would have liked to have won the game," he said.
"It was a tricky game because they were sitting in without the striker so it would have been easy for the defence to have switched off and then been hit on the counter attack.
"The pleasing thing was that we didn't concede from so many set-pieces.
"We did ride our luck at times but we got a clean sheet in the end one way or another."
West Ham were content to sit deep, stifling Swansea's attack and then try to hit back on the break.
The difference in size between the sides was obvious and there were fears that Swansea might struggle under a route one barrage.
Vorm did flap at a couple of high balls, but Swansea were able to clear the danger on those occasions.
At the other end, Chico Flores saw his first-half header saved by Jussi Jaaskelainen and Alvaro Vazquez was inches away from connecting with a Nathan Dyer cross.
And Swansea were appealing for a last-minute penalty when the ball appeared to strike Joe Cole's arm.
But referee Phil Dowd was unmoved by those cries and the match finished as a stalemate.
"I think this year we're a lot stronger at defending set-pieces and that's pleasing because that's what we've worked on and talked a lot about," added Williams.
"You can't afford to switch off because there aren't a lot of teams that aren't strong from set-pieces.
"It's something we've spoken about at the start of the season and I think we've tightened up a lot.
"There are a few teams — and West Ham are one of them — who are strong from set-pieces.
"We knew we had to be strong as well."