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Swansea 1 Oxford 0
Swansea 1 Oxford 0
Friday, 15th Apr 2005 00:00

Kris Fires Swans Back Into Top Three

At this stage of the season it doesn't really matter how you pick up the points providing you do. And the curtain came down on Friday night football at the Vetch Field not so much with a bang but with a nervous ninety minutes not helped by a Oxford side that sadly for them still hold the traits of previous manager Ian Atkins.

After the cruel manner of defeat at Lincoln last week this was the chance for the Swans to return to the winning habit and steal a march on their promotion rivals even if it does just turn out to be for ninety minutes.

And Kenny Jackett showed faith in the side that was beaten last week by naming an unchanged starting XI leaving the Swans to line up as follows

Gueret

Ricketts Monk Iriekpen Austin

Forbes O'Leary Martinez Robinson

Trundle Thorpe

Subs: McLeod, Gurney, Connor, Britton, Murphy

Whether it was nerves or whether there was some other factor behind it, it was a game that the Swans pretty much dominated without ever looking fully in control as they made mistakes while in possession. Thankfully none were catastrophic in giving Oxford chances but the first quarter passed without a serious threat at goal.

Indications that the referee would be in for a busy night came with a flurry of free kicks inside the first ten minutes in the Swans favour and the first booking after just fifteen as Quinn was booked for a foul on Trundle.

And that most definitely did set the pattern for the night as Swansea's leading scorer was subjected to pushes, kicks and little digs throughout - evidence that Oxford had targetted him for special treatment during the 90 minutes.

The free kicks though were proving nothing more than a stoppage as Robinson and Trundle both failed to hit the target from set pieces and the half drifted into a pretty drab affair that looked to be heading for stalemate.

But all so often we have seen the Swans snatch one just before the interval but this time it came from the hero to many this season in Kris O'Leary. The wonderful supports in the centre stand (I won't miss them!) prevented my view of how the ball came to O'Leary but it did come to him and as he composed himself he placed a perfect shot low into the corner to send the Swans into the lead. On the balance of play it was deserved and as news filtered through that Southend were a goal down as well, the importance of the goal became even clearer to the 10,000+ Jacks inside the ground.

The goal always looked as if it may be enough but talk at half time was of us wanting more and surely tonight more was there for the taking.

SWANSEA

Gueret
Austin
Ricketts
Iriekpen
Monk
O'Leary
Martinez
Robinson
Trundle
Thorpe
Forbes

OXFORD

Tardiff
Corbo
Mackay
Quinn
Robinson
Cominelli
Diaz
Hackett
Wanless
Basham
Bradbury

REFEREE

K Friend

ATTENDANCE

10,602

Swansea upped a gear at the start of the second half sensing that the visitors had no fight for the challenge ahead but the upping of the gear was a temporary measure. This time I will swear it was nerved kicking back in as the Swans stopped pressing so much for the second although a Forbes effort was disallowed presumably for offside after Kevin Austin went on a run from left back.

That aside the most obvious moment of the second half was becoming more evident as Corbo finally allowed Trundle to get the better of him. After several nudges and an incident close to halfway that saw Trundle holding his head, the Oxford defender finally saw yellow after another push against the Swansea Number 10. Having been warned two minutes before it was stupid at minimum and rightly so the yellow followed for persistent infringement.

Goals

An altercation between the same player and the Swansea bench could have seen a further talking to but it was not enough for Cordo who decided he had seen enough of the game and ensured his second booking with twenty minutes to go.

A long ball from Ricketts towards Trundle saw the defender ignore the ball and blatantly take Trundle out of play. A quick glance at the linesman was all it took for the referee to decide that enough was enough and two yellows equals a red and Oxford were down to ten men.

A senile Swansea manager of the past always reckoned ten men were harder to play than eleven and Swansea certainly tried to make it difficult for themselves in the last 20 minutes. Defending deep must be phrase of the season and Oxford were back in a game that they scarecley deserved to be as the Swans continued their edge of the seat stuff.

Swansea
O'Leary 44
Oxford
None
Card Count
Booked
Swansea
Martinez 81
Oxford
Quinn 16
Mackay 27
Corbo 56
Sent Off
Swansea
None
Oxford
Corbo 70

A quick free kick almost caught us out as the ball was deflected for a corner and the nerves were really kicking in.

A second disallowed goal didn't help that factor and an injury to the Oxford keeper meant their third substitution and he was soon in the action as he saved well from Robinson.

With a one goal advantage you can never fully relax and seeing 4 minutes of added on time does little to improve the relaxation but this was one that the Swans wanted by this stage and they held on through time with some ease.

Let's be fair about this we were never at the top of the game but we were too good for an Oxford side that is amongst the dirtiest sides that I have seen this season. No doubt a few one-eyed Ox's will tell you different but they came with a game plan to stop us playing and if it had not been for the goal then they would have succeeded.

As I said at the start it matters not how you win now so long as you win and as the Swans go into the weekend they are back in the top three. I would always take that with three weeks of the season to go.

Man of the Match? Difficult call as no-one really shone but after the mishap of last week I will pick Garry Monk who did not put a foot wrong all night other than maybe he should have scored in the first half. But as a defender, top marks.

Another cup final down, three more to go.

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