Swans 0 Bristol Rovers 0
Saturday, 2nd Dec 2000 00:00
Swans 0 Bristol R 0
Proceedings started on a sombre note with a minute's silence for Marlene, who many Swans supporters will know from the club shop. Marlene was a charming lady who had served the club for 16 years and watched many other supposedly football people come and go. Her death on Monday was a terrible shock and an extremely sad loss for Swansea City Football Club. Fittingly, the minute's silence was impeccably observed. The Swans started with Kris O'Leary standing in for Matt Bound who was serving the second match of 3 game ban. Apart from that, with Damien Lacey (back from injury at last) playing in the centre along side captain Nick Cusack, and Steve Jones returning at full-back in place of the injured Jason Price, this was largely the side that set the Swans on their record breaking run towards the third division championship this time last year. The noticeable exception to that was Giovanni Savarese who had seriously raised expectations in the crowd with his two goals last week - an impressive five and a half thousand people turned up to watch a side languishing in 21st place in the table. To be fair, they didn't witness a bad game - no goals and no periods of flowing football from either side, but this was a vast improvement on the Oxford farce of three weeks ago, the home side looked more confident on the ball, if still lacking in ideas up front, and the addition to the defence of Kris O'Leary didn't cause problems with both him and Jason Smith having a good game. The first half was not littered with incident, the most notable events being a shot from Steve Watkin which looped off the leg of a Bristol defender and took an age to drop from the sky, only for it to fall inches wide, and a speculative (to say the least) effort from Steve Jones which very nearly humiliated the Wurzels 'keeper before he gathered it at the second attempt. There was the odd scare for the Swans, Mike Howard being caught out a couple of times by a strong and skillful Bristol number 16 who could have opened the scoring after a through ball found it's way to his feet on the half hour. His shot, like several of his team mates over the 90 minutes, soared high and wide. Half time, 0-0 and it was nice not to hear boos ring out as the players headed for the changing rooms. No prizes for guessing what JH had said during the interval, the first 15 minutes of the second half saw almost every opportunity hoofed into the skies in the hope that it might land somewhere in the vicinity of Gio Savarese. It rarely did and despite Steve Watkin's improved attempts at holding the ball up and laying it off, we had very few chances on goal. Only five minutes into part 2 and Roger Freestone pulled off a world class save to deny a Rovers shot from 20 yards, his finger tip save of a superb shot that was seemingly bound for the top corner would eventually earn him the man of the match award from the surprisingly audible PA. There were few other worries for either side, despite the fantastic noise created by the North Bank - including a 25 minute rendition of Johnny Hollins' Barmy Army and, especially for the riot police, a new addition to the chant album, Who Let the Pigs Out? In all seriousness, the crowd were fantastic today and deserved to see their team win, although the large visiting support would no doubt point out that on the field a draw was probably a fair result. David Romo replaced the disappointing Damien Lacey on 52 minutes and the Frenchman showed some good footwork despite the poor Vetch Field pitch. However, the problem that had existed in the midfield, remained. At times there were worrying wide open spaces with Nick Cusack sitting too deep and Martin Thomas battling well but having too much ground to cover. As a result, Stuart Roberts and Giovanni Saverese, always looking like the main source of goals, were to a large extent cut off from play. In fact, much of our attacking play came from the boot of Mike Howard at corners and from Steve Jones who (as always) showed how the attacking full-back role should be played. Today's draw sees the Swans move down a place to 22nd in the table, but the ten places above are all very close together and this WAS an improved performance. There is still the worrying problem in the centre of the park and it is looking increasingly like our goal scoring problem stems not from the strikers themselves but from those who are meant to be controlling the play. On this showing, neither of these sides will go down, but with every game that passes, the description of this season is changing from trying to avoid a relegation dogfight, to actually being in one.
Photo: Action Images
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