|LFW Awaydays - Swansea City, Liberty Stadium|
Tuesday, 13th Oct 2009 22:11
On his annual pilgrimage from Canada Doug Stone is back with his second Awayday Review, looking back at last weekend’s disappointing 2-0 defeat at Swansea City.
1 – The Match
This match was played out between two very mediocre teams on the day – one a bit short on quality and the other just not interested. QPR started brightly and were dominating the match and threatening to score early and win comfortably. But Swansea soon came into it and while they were short on quality, with a number of mis-controlled and misplaced passes, they were definitely up for a battle and willing to work for the points. They had the majority of possession for the remainder of the first half but without managing to really threaten much. Whenever QPR did get the ball I had the distinct impression I was watching a training ground exercise that was of little consequence to anybody. Fancy flicks and tricks seemed to be the order of the day, even though the only thing they accomplished was to gift the ball straight back to Swansea who in turn did nothing with it.
Half time came and went and just as this was starting to look like a bore draw, it suddenly sprung to life. Routledge burst into the Swansea area from the left, sidestepped a defender and suddenly had only the keeper to beat from about ten yards out. A predator would have sidefooted the ball crisply into one bottom corner or the other and it would have been 1-0. But QPR were not in the mood to do anything so boringly efficient on this day. Instead, Routledge tried to burst the net, the keeper made a smart save to his right, and three seconds later Rowlands was off for a second yellow as Swansea countered and the match had turned. From that point forward Swansea took control and were suddenly creating chances almost at will. They made good use of their man advantage and were attacking to good effect down the wings. Routledge was working hard defensively and getting back to help out Leigertwood on the QPR right but Swansea were having their way on the other wing. It was no surprise then and no less than Swansea deserved when the opening goal finally came.
A lovely crossfield pass from left to right in midfield was then crossed to the far post where it was side-footed home. Even so, Rangers still threatened on the counter and the match was far from over until Watson’s deliberate handball saw him also dismissed for a second yellow and Rangers were down to nine men. At this point the match really was effectively over and Swansea took full advantage of their numerical advantage to add a second and come very close to adding a third.
2 – QPR Performance
The simple truth is that we just were NOT up for it. This is a competitive division and if you want the points you are going to have to work for them, no matter who you are playing. Routledge was my personal man of the match for Rangers; I thought he put in a good performance overall and in particular was willing to track back and contribute defensively. HonoUrable mentions go to Cerny, who did very well to keep the score down to two once Swansea got on top, and Leigertwood, who along with Routledge kept things reasonably tight down Rangers’ right flank. Borrowdale struggled a bit at left back but Stewart and Gorkss both played well enough in the middle. Watson and Rowlands weren’t really in the match much even before they walked, as Swansea had a lot of possession and were quite intelligently directing play to the wings. I’m sorry to say that Buzsaky was a bit of a waste of space on the day and was the biggest culprit when it came to trying fancy tricks and flicks that only served to give the ball away. Vine was not much better and Magilton was quite right to substitute the pair of them long before the final whistle. Simpson worked hard and had at least one good goal scoring chance. Faurlin and Taarabt both came on as substitutes and I thought that Faurlin showed a few nice touches, while Taarabt did not have much time to make an impression and hardly touched the ball, playing for the nine against eleven for almost all of his shift. To summariSe, three adjectives come to mind: flat, stupid, and overwhelmed, in that order. ‘Stupid’ only applies to two players though – you know who they are!
3 – QPR Support
Certainly not overwhelming in turns of numbers but those who were there did manage to make some noise. I don’t know the story behind the ‘thief’ and ‘he belongs in jail’ chants but that is something I would not normally join in with anyway. As for the ‘you’ll never win with one up front’ chant directed at Swansea’s defensive formation, well, we tempted fate with that one and she bit us in the arse, as we could well have expected! Still, it is a decent trek from London to South Wales and this was a reasonable turn out.
4 – Atmosphere
If not for the sporadic noise generated by the travelling QPR contingent, I might have thought I was at a lawn bowling match until Swansea scored. It really was remarkable how quiet it was up until then. But once they had taken the lead a group of singers in the corner just to our left suddenly woke up, although they only had one song and it was: ‘you’re rich, and your fucking shit’. Were they talking to us? Flabio Briatore is rich. Bernie Ecclestone is rich. Lakshmi Mittal is rich. But QPR are not rich. And I for one am very glad that we are not trying to be cheque book champions like our near and not so dear West London neighbours. Although the second point may have not been without merit on the day, I would have thought that even the meanest of intelligences could have looked at the current league table before the match, seen Swansea with 11 points and QPR with 14 points and a game in hand, and drawn the inevitable conclusion.
5 – The Ground
I have to say that I liked the ground. Although it is a bowl with only one level, this is a good design for a ground of this size (around 20,000) and I did not perceive it as one of the new boring ‘identikit’ stadiums that seem to be springing up. So far as I could tell there is not a bad seat in the house and the entire seating area is covered by a roof with a spiffy “space age” look to it. The gents was clean and there was lots of room in the concourse, although I should also note that the away end was far from full. I didn’t buy anything to eat or drink but all the usual concessions were available (although I forgot to review the prices – sorry!). The ground is also quite nicely located just outside town; definitely walking distance from the town centre, just so long as you have a bit of time to spare and aren’t a couch potato! (I’d say a mile and a bit.)
6 – The Journey
Our journey to the match started in mid Wales so it was a relatively short one – less than a two hour drive that went by quickly. We headed out fairly early with the thought that we would take a bit of time to look around the town centre and arrived shortly after noon. In trying to plan where to park via Google, we had found the Landore Park and Ride for £2.20, which appeared to be right next to the Liberty Stadium and seemed ideal. However, if you follow signs for ‘stadium parking’ you will be directed to a big gravel wasteland several miles from the ground and in the middle of nowhere, and will be charged a fiver for the park and ride (although there was no sign of the ride part when we drove by). Instead, we headed for the Landore Park and Ride as planned but when we got there we were confronted with a “No Matchday Parking” sign and two very nice gentlemen who were obviously charged with the duty of enforcing the sign. Although I was wearing my QPR shirt, we explained that we were going into the town centre and they let us in without any trouble, commenting that just so long as we were getting onto the park and ride bus into Swansea, that would be fine. Meanwhile, right across the way, not fifty yards from where we entered, was another car park with a ‘matchday parking’ sign and entry was five quid. Now I can see where they are coming from, trying to juggle the need to provide a reasonably priced way to visit Swansea by car on a match day with the need to screw over the football supporters for an extra three quid. It is a dilemma to be sure. But I really fail to see how they can force people to get onto a park and ride bus into Swansea just because they parked in the £2.20 car park instead of the five quid one! So here’s a radical and insane idea: how about giving the football fans a break and charging £2.20 for match day parking?
7 – Pre Match
Our pre match started with the park and ride bus into Swansea, which rather strangely takes a road into town that is protected at both ends by a big gate that opens for the bus and then closes behind it, and does not seem to have any pedestrian access. If you want to walk, I suppose you have to go the long way around, which even so did not look too far. We walked up and down a bit and then found a Subway for our pre match meal. After that we found a nice little pub called Eli Jenkins, which was not too busy and was obviously not trying to attract the football crowd as they had racing on the telly. Consequently, my QPR shirt was not a problem (it was under my jacket anyway), with no Swansea shirts in evidence. They had an interestingly named ale on tap called ‘Spitfire’ and, well, it had to be tried. As my brother ordered our pints he asked whether it would make him spin around and fall to the ground and the quick witted young lady behind the bar replied (cue the delightfully lyrical Welsh accent): “Just so long as you don’t go shooting any Germans”. It was a very nice pint and after we sank those we easily found our park and ride bus stop, and didn’t even have to wait for the bus, which arrived just as we got there.
8 – Police and Stewards
There were a number of stewards in evidence around the ground both before and after the match, along with a smaller police presence, and I did not see or encounter any trouble. Overall, a sensible “hands off” approach was taken and appreciated.
Photo: Action Images
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