Wigan v Swansea

Despite travelling to the DW stadium with great optimism yesterday, I returned home disappointed after the Swans 2 nil defeat.
Cover of the match programme

Although we missed out on making the quarter finals of the Carling Cup for the first time in our history, we were far from outplayed by Premiership Wigan. And if Craig Beattie’s goal hadn’t been harshly ruled out for offside in the opening 10 minutes who knows what might have happened.

As for the trip itself, that ran pretty smoothly from the time we left Swansea at around 11:45. The weather was rank and it really didn’t improve until we reached the outskirts of Wigan at around 16:00. The only delay we had was the customary stop-start traffic at the M5/M6 interchange, oh and two toilet stops at Strensham (aka Stencham!) and Sandbach.

Food is always a high priority on one of our football away days and after several spot checks of suitable eateries in Winwick and Newton-le-Willows, we finally stopped off at the Sim’s Road pub and restaurant in Ashton-in-Makerfield.
Sim's Road pub and restaurant

Our usual routine of stopping at the 2nd pub we pass when leaving the motorway went out the window for some reason. Thinking back I think the urgent need and thought of food made any sense of logic go AWOL!

The food was quite tasty without being anything special. It was reasonably priced though and the staff were friendly.

Gammon steak with trimmings

Chocolate fudge cake

With our stomach’s now full, this 4 strong part of the Jack Army was now ready to march on to the DW stadium in readiness for what we’d hope was going to be an historic night.

We opted for some street parking (on Warrington Road) about 10 minutes walk from the stadium in order to soak up the atmosphere all the more – as well as greet the masses of Swans fans whom were passing us in cars, vans and buses!

Arriving at the ground – which is right in the middle of a retail park – I was struck by how narrow the seating was and how steep the incline of the stand was. This was rather strange given that each corner of the ground was open and the amount of space outside the stadium.

View of the South Stand

View of the East Stand

View of the West Stand

Having taken our seats, we were pleasantly surprised to see none other than Leon Britton in attendance. Fair play – especially for coming to sit with us in the away end!! By the way Leon, you’re more than welcome to come back to the Swans 🙂

The announcement of 8 changes to the starting eleven was a disappointment, but given the bigger priority of promotion from the Championship (and having a large squad) this was understandable I guess. My only gripe really was having Craig Beattie playing up front from the start (why not Emnes or Dobbie?).

Of course the other interesting aspect of the night’s entertainment was wondering what sort of reaction Roberto Martínez would get from the 4,500 Swans fans – which I have previously given my thoughts on. This short video clip below – which I took straight after the game had kicked off – will give you some indication.

Despite the video, I had been expecting a far more vitriolic criticism of Martínez throughout the entire game – but it didn’t materialise (regardless of what a lot of the media would try and have us believe). A quick read of the various Wigan forums will confirm this.

In fact, other than when the game started, the only other time anti-Martínez chants materialised to any great degree was after Wigan scored their first goal – which was a natural reaction.

Anyway, far more importantly for the Swans were the performances of the various squad players (and first team regulars) used during the game.

I personally thought that Darren Pratley, Neil Taylor and Kemy Agustien were outstanding, with Marvin Emnes looking useful and Yves Makabu-Makalambay making some good saves.

The two players whom I felt let themselves down however were David Cotterill and Craig Beattie. Cotterill really does appear to be lacking in confidence at the moment, perhaps as a result of his recent penalty misses and pressure from the other wingers in the form of Nathan Dyer and Scott Sinclair. Beattie on the other hand, hard as he tries, just doesn’t seem up to the task and appears to have no anticipation skills whatsoever – not ideal when you’re a striker.

The Jack Army was not at it’s best either and I suspect that the team selection and pre-occupation (for many) with Martínez was partly to blame. Several rousing renditions of ‘Hymns and Arias’ certainly got the hairs on the back of my neck to stand up though. Having said that, the home support – all 7,000 odd of it – was also rather muted, bar the drummer boys and goal celebrations.
Players applauding the fans

So we left the DW stadium disappointed more than dejected and looking forward to what we all hope will be a successful season in the Championship.

We got home around 03:15 and I now remember why I’d much prefer going to Swans away games on a weekend!