The Swans first game of 2011 ended in a deserved 1 nil against Championship rivals Reading in a tight game at the liberty stadium.
On a day when other results also went the way of the Swans, the new year league table makes promising reading for any Swans fan.
Despite the chill in the air, the Swans warmed up the home fans with a bright opening period. However, two sharp Dorus DeVries stops inside the first half hour gave an indication of the attacking threat posed by Reading – spearheaded by Welsh international Simon Church.
The unfortunate and early departure of both Andrea Orlandi (hamstring?) and Neil Taylor (ankle) – replaced by Mark Gower and Albert Serran respectively – in the space of 10 minutes signalled a period of sustained pressure from Reading as the Swans lost their earlier spark.
In fact, it was a shame to see Orlandi leave the field. As much as he is one of the most popular players to be picked on (this season) I thought he was having one of his more industrial and influential games in midfield. Ditto for Neil Taylor really, whom has (for me) improved with every game he has played and is a very promising left back whom I’m sure will be a name to watch out for in 2011.
I hope that the injuries to both players are nothing major – especially Taylor, as with Alan Tate suspended, it does leave the Swans with a wee defensive void to fill.
Right, back to the game and the referee in particular – Mr. S. Hooper. As time wore on it becoming increasingly evident that he was not up to the usual incompetent standard, he was simply erratic! E.g. you book someone whom clearly took the ball in the tackle whilst less than 5 yards away from you, but don’t book someone whom hatchets down a winger in full flight.
I suppose we should all stop moaning about referees week in week out really, as after all they are all fast becoming consistently more erratic and error prone by the week. So what is there to moan about?!
Anyway, half time came and it was really what was needed in order for the Swans to re-group ready. In the meantime, the apparent half time entertainment successors to Cyril the Swan, positioned themselves in the centre circle and started shaking their pom poms at the crowd.
For those of you familiar with the Vetch Field, I can assure you that this “Herd of Cheerleaders” (AKA the Red Kites) were not up to the same standard of the “Ice Girls”. Do you remember them?
So with the majority of middle aged men in the asbo east stand still wishing they’d gone to specsavers (to fully enjoy the HT feast of entertainment), the 2nd half started with Swans back in the groove and looking for the opening goal which their patient passing play deserved.
How ironic then, in the post-boo-pratley (weren’t they a band?) era and on a day when he showed more of the desire and passion we’d become accustomed too, that old Dazza would produce the goods on 65 minutes with a sweet right footed strike and send the Swans fans in raptures.
Of course as any Swans fan knows when we’re leading 1 nil and there’s 10 minutes to go, it’s like the good dam alamo and you can’t help but worry for your heart as the blood pressure mounts.
It was no different today and in fact it was arguably worse, as both Scott Sinclair and Nathan Dyer were guilty of missing the target when it really would have been easier to score. In fact, Sinclair’s effort was so close, that even the “goal” music was played over the tannoy and the electronic scoreboard changed to show the Swans 2 nil up (it even showed 3 momentarily!!). Why oh why do you do it too us guys?
Other observations I made of today’s events are as follows:
- * I have every sympathy for the girlfriend/wife of Reading’s Shane Long (No. 9), because if he moans as much at home as he does to the referee, then he must be bloody murder to live with;
- * I’m left wondering what ‘trick’ Andrea Orlandi will show us at the next home game after his 10 yard diving header today – coupled with the bicycle kick he attempted against Barnsley last Tuesday;
- * Personally I felt Garry Monk was a more worthy man of the match, as his leadership, aerial play and a magnificent goalmouth tackle and block were outstanding;
- * Despite only a brief appearance from Mark Gower (due to Orlandi’s injury) his contribution was telling both in his midfield role and support of Serran in defence;
- * It was good to see the crowd respond to the team and get behind the Swans when they needed it in the 2nd half – more of the same is required at every home game;
- * And finally, here’s one for the Swansea ‘fans’ who barrack the players – at least get the player whom your slagging off name right. Imagine how upset Stephen Dobbie must have been to be called “Beattie” today!
Well who’d have thought that on the very first day of 2011 that the Swans would have been at their highest league position for over 27 years eh. Let’s just hope that come the afternoon of Sunday, 8th May that we’re still in that position.