|Matches of Yesteryear - Swansea v U's 7/3/06|
Written by wessex_exile on Monday, 13th Apr 2020 15:00
Good afternoon everyone, I sincerely hope you’re all doing well, and hopefully not going too cabin-feverish! Today would have been a home match against Oldham Athletic, and after our surely guaranteed epic 3-2 victory at Sixfields on Good Friday, it would be just one more victory needed to guarantee a play-off place…think I might have been out in the sun a bit too much over the last few days 😊
Swansea City v Colchester United
Tuesday 7th March 2006
LDV Vans Trophy (Area Final – First Leg)
Match #54 of the series, and we return to one of our most successful seasons in the club’s history, with an evening trip to the Liberty Stadium to take on Swansea City in the first leg of the LDV Vans Trophy Area Final in 2006. As with the Match #53 blog, the random match selector has rolled the dice of chance and again come out with 11, given the colu_official YouTube channel at 3pm this afternoon is premiering “The Road to Stamford Bridge” FA Cup run from the very same season.
Given our glorious success in both the FA Cup and of course the league this season, to me the LDV Trophy run remains somewhat overlooked in 2005/06. Of course it was by far the least glamorous competition we competed in that season, even the League Cup overshadowed it – albeit that we slumped out in the 1st round at home to Cardiff City in front of less than 2k. But, it did represent probably our most realistic possibility of reaching a major competition final, for what would have been our first trip to the Millennium Stadium…and here we were, just two matches away from that happening. It’s also worth remembering that both legs of the LDV Area Final had been put back a week because of a clash with our trip to Stamford Bridge.
Firstly, before we get to the match itself, spare a moment to consider the actual programme. Only 20 pages cover to cover, but they more than made up for that in size – a whopping A4 booklet, clearly not designed like most programmes to be shoved into a back pocket or inside a jackett (see what I did there 😊). This is easily one of the largest (and most inconveniently sized) programmes in my collection, matched only by my three Wembley commemorative programmes. I’m not certain whether this was also a commemorative issue, or whether all Swansea City programmes that season were this size, but I strongly suspect the latter.
Swansea City had moved from the crumbling Vetch Field less than a year earlier, albeit winning promotion into the same league as the U’s in the process. The Liberty Stadium (unofficially known as “White Rock” at the time) redeveloped land formerly occupied by the Morfa Athletics Stadium on the west bank of the River Tawe. It cost in excess of £50m at the time, much of which was funded through Swansea Council and a developer-led consortia building a massive retail park on the opposite bank of the river. Swansea City continue to this day ground-sharing the Liberty Stadium with Welsh Rugby Union side Ospreys.
We were, of course, hoping to close in on our own comparatively modest new stadium at Cuckoo Farm, likewise primarily financed through the council, but we were still more than a year away from planning approval, so for now we could only gaze on what might be longingly. This was the second visit for the U’s to the Liberty Stadium, having drawn 1-1 in the league back in December 2005 – notable as this match was one of only two we didn’t win between 29th October and 7th February that season – but it was my first visit. However, amidst all the success of 2005/06, to put this match into context, we had just been smashed 3-0 at home on the Saturday by none other than Southend United ☹.
The U’s line-up that evening was:
16..George Elokobi (Kemi Izzet 89’)
28..Richard Garcia (Pat Baldwin 60’)
8….Gareth Williams (Jamie Guy 83’)
Parky wasn’t that much into the habit of resting players if he didn’t need to, so though this wasn’t quite our first XI, it was very close. The exception was probably Dean Gerken, no. 2 to regular goalkeeper Aidan Davison. However, Dean Gerken had played in all of the previous LDV fixtures and earned the right to be on the pitch, and would go on to make a very respectable 14 appearances in all competitions in a season with that much success. Swansea were managed by Kenny Jackett at the time, not one I’ve warmed too if I’m honest, but he has enjoyed reasonable success as a manager, though never threatening to break into consideration for top level management. The Swansea City team that evening were littered with names I’m sure we’ve all heard of, including Willy Gueret in goal, Garry Monk, Leon Britton, Kevin McLeod, Lee Trundle and of course Adebayo Akinfenwa. Kevin McLeod would of course go on to play two seasons for Colchester United, when he wasn’t otherwise occupied hosting Grand Designs.
This was a school night, and a fairly long two-hour trip there and back, so leaving the kids at home I drove over for this match. I remember being mightily impressed at the sight of the new stadium as I drove into Swansea from the M4, fully illuminated and gleaming brightly in the gathering dusk, and of course imagining “if only…”. Given there wasn’t expected to be a massive crowd for the match, and to spare the aggravation of driving around looking for free street parking and a long walk, I decided to park in the stadium car park – can’t remember how much it was at the time, but at least it was hassle-free. I don’t know the exact number, but by kick-off I reckon there must have been 250-300 U’s supporters there, not bad for a midweek match so far from Essex.
After humiliation at the hands of bitter rivals Southend on the Saturday, metaphorically leading us out into centre circle, pulling our shorts down and giving us a right good spanking in front of everyone, we needed a strong performance for this game. In what Parky would go on to say was “…a step in the right direction”, I’m pleased say I watched one. For the first half particularly we played very well indeed, more than a match for what was clearly a very good Swansea City side (they were 3rd in the league at the time, we were 4th).
In fact, but for an extremely harsh offside flag, Iwelumo would have headed the U’s into a thoroughly deserved 1-0 lead, but it was disallowed. He could have done it again, breaking clear with only Willy Gueret to beat, but Gueret did extremely well to block the effort. Sadly, it’s slim margins such as these that can win or lose a match, and five minutes before half-time an ever-threatening Swansea City showed how it should be done, when Akinfenwa expertly controlled a flick-on from none other than Kevin McLeod, turned inside and rolling the ball into the bottom of the net. Going into half-time 1-0 down, when we should have been 1-0 or even 2-0 up felt like a real punch in the guts, but everyone agreed if nothing else the performance was excellent.
There’s not a great deal I remember in detail about the second half, other than the U’s continued to play very well, more than a match for the most part with Swansea City, and certainly did not disgrace themselves. That being said, real chances were few and far between for most of the half, the only I can remember was Trundle running clear through late in the second half, only be denied by a good save from Gerken. And so the match finished 1-0, and whilst it was disappointing to lose, following a solid performance and with the home leg still to come, 1-0 wasn’t a complete disaster – 1-1 would have been so much better though.
Swansea City 1 (Adebayo Akinfenwa 40’) Colchester United 0
Post-match, and before the second leg, Phil Parkinson commented on the disallowed goal “I felt that the linesman got it wrong and that decision could cost us a trip to Cardiff”. The linesman had got it wrong, and given we didn’t perform well in the second leg and lost 2-1 at Layer Rd, perhaps he had. Heyho, we might have missed out on an LDV consolation trip to the Millennium Stadium, but at least we won the main prize – promotion to the Championship.
Swansea went on to win the trophy at the Millennium Stadium, beating Carlisle 2-1 in front of over 42,000, so perhaps PWK another one of those rare examples of the U’s going out to the eventual competition winners (albeit not in the FA Cup). There may be more non-FA Cup examples, so any suggestions gratefully received.
Whilst the U’s finished the season strongly, Swansea City stuttered and fell away, only just squeezing into the play-offs in 6th place. They did make the final, their second trip to the Millennium Stadium that season, but lost 4-3 on penalties after a 2-2 draw with Barnsley, this time in front of a whopping 55,419.
Up the U’s
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