Halifax 0 – 1 Swans

Tuesday, 7 March 2000, 0:00
4 mins read

The only concern was that we should have buried this Halifax team before half time, but as usual still had to suffer a few hairy moments before full time before the three points were in the bag. Having said this, the weather was once again appalling, and it was good to see that it was the Swans who made the best of the driving rain and treacherous underfoot conditions (but perhaps not surprising that Boyd didn’t even make it to the bench). Halifax started brightly, pumping a few high balls into the box and putting the back line under a fair bit of aerial pressure, but otherwise created very little, apart from a snap shot from Painter. But it was the Swans who had the cleanest of the early chances, a low drive from Jones testing the keeper and an angled shot from Alsop which went well wide. There followed a period of sustained pressure from the Swans, who used the now reformed 4-4-2 formation to break swiftly out of defnce. Thomas and Cusack harried and chased in midfield and Coates and Price broke forward smartly to support Alsop and Watkin in attack. For the most part, we played the ball to feet, and Price in particular looked dangerous, and on a couple of occasions nearly broke through the rather hesitant Halifax defence, on one occassiotn bursting through their back line only to be foiled by a terrific saving tackle from a Halifax defender. But it was Watkin who made the pressure count 28th minute. Alsop won the ball in the air, it broke to Cusack who laid the ball off to Watkin, who then hit a superb drive into the top of the net via the cross bar. A really terrific goal to follow the one on Saturday – if Steve is coming back into goalscoring form, then this could just make the difference for us in the run in. We then did our “let’s see it out until half time” routine, and created no further chances, but our rock solid defence similarly did not allow halifax to put us under any signficant pressure. As expected though, the home side looked a little better in the first ten minutes of the second half, and midfielders Patterson and Fitzpatrick did manage to trouble us with a few dangerous looking crosses. However,we were impressed by the way the whole Swans team defended as a unit. Cusack and Thomas got back into the last third, Howard and Jones (supported by Price and Coates) doubled up on the wide players to block off the crosses, and this meant that Smith and Bound were able to pick off the high balls and any runners that got through. The net result of this was that Roger only had one save to make in the second have (a decent low shot from Patterson) and only struggled with one high ball which he punched weakly, but Smith cleared. As a result, Halifax became visibly dispirited and their 1600 supporters began to stream out with 15 minutes left to go (we wonder whether Halifax as a club is reverting to type – no ambition and no support). In the last half hour we reasserted our control, with Price again looking dangerous on several occasions down the right. Coates produced our best moment of the half with a 25 yard drive which was suberbly saved by Butler. Alsop also had two excellent chances to secure the game – for the first he was set up by Price, and hit a powerful low shot which was saved by the keeper’s legs; the second was a clearer chance, but which he skied horribly, bringing much amusement from all obervers (would not have been so funny if we had been losing). A lovely piece of interplay between Watkin and Price nearly saw JJ through on goal, but our best chance came when substitute Tony Bird was put clear from a Coates pass, but from an unmarked postion managed to crash his low drive against a post. Four minutes of injury time were handled without a flutter, and the final whistle brought cheers from an impressive Swans turnout of around 130 or so fans (not bad for a wet Tuesday night in Yorkshire). Freestone – 7 Little to do, but flapped at one which could have cost us. Jones – 9 Really maturing into Mr Rock-Solid. Terrific. Smith – 7 Struggled a little against a centre forward who was as tall as him, but still a good all round performance. Bound – 8 Very steady. Howard – 7 Great in his defensive role, but disappointing going forward. Coates – 6 One great shot, but didn’t take advantage of the space which he found Cusack – 7 Managed the midfield and supported the defence well Thomas – 8 A real engine tonight – helped us win the midfield battle Alsop – 6 Robust all round performance, and good assist for the goal, but his finishing was dire. Watkin 9 – Great goal, dangerous and intelligent running, and good link play (MOM) Jenkins – 6 Little impression when he replaced Price Bird – 7 Looked lively and up for it, but should have scored Hollins and Curtis – Good tactics to hold on to the win. Would have liked to see Casey given a run in the second half and surely the fit-again Stuart Roberts should have been on the bench and not in the stand. But I wouldn’t question the results that these guys are getting! In summary, we probably should have won by a street, but in the end it was the three points that counted, and they were never really in any doubt. And dare we mention clean sheet records again?!!! A pity that all our rivals won tonight as well, but all we can do is carry on winning our games and playing well, both of which were achieved by some margin this evening. Six points from two tough away games is superb, but the pressure stays on doesn’t it – let’s hope there is a huge crowd at the Vetch to get behind them on Friday night, and here’s to putting that Cobblers bogey to rest!

Images courtesy of Getty Images, Athena Picture Agency and Swansea City Football Club.
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