Swans 1 Reading 0

Wednesday, 31 January 2001, 0:00
4 mins read

The Swans lined up with a 4-4-2 formation with Jason Price at full-back, Kris O’Leary keeping his place ahead of Matthew Bound and Stuart Roberts partnering Giovanni Saverese up front.

The game started scrappy and remained that way for much of the 90 minutes, the ball seemingly spending a ridiculous length of time in the air as the two sides indulged in a spot of head tennis. The comments of “When did the ball last touch the ground?” and “Why did they name this game Football?” were interrupted after 20 minutes when Stuart Roberts was sent through with just the keeper to beat, but he saw his disappointing shot saved.

The cheers turned to groans as a golden chance went begging, had Roberts let Saverese (who was alongside) shoot instead, it would surely have been 1-0.

Apart from some curious offside decisions, little else of any note happened in the opening 45 minutes. Reading brought on Martin Butler after the break in an apparent attempt to get the winner, but any hopes the crowd may have had of that changing the quality of play were soon extinguished as both defences continued to try and gain ground by planting the ball deep in the opponents 22.

On a similar subject, until the goal, the best Swansea attempt had been an impressive drop goal attempt from David Romo, whose shot managed to clear the West Terrace.

The home side once again had Roger Freestone to thank for keeping the scores level with a save right out of the top draw on the hour mark. His fingertip stopping of Jamie Cureton’s powerful shot would prove to be a crucial one. Immediately after, Ryan Casey replaced Michael Keegan in Swansea’s somewhat lightweight midfield, the Irishman proving a useful addition to the side on the left flank.

The all important goal came on 75 minutes when a defensive error let in the lively Stuart Roberts who lifted the ball across for Saverese to send a strong close range header past the helpless Reading ‘keeper. That lead was rarely threatened as a disappointing poor Reading side failed to create many real chances, their best perhaps being a penalty shout ten minutes from time when Butler ironically attempted the Dying Swan in the area.

The referee made the right decision and waved play on, but in truth he did little else right all night. To be fair, he was hindered by some comically inept officiating from his assitants who put in the most incompetent display of offside flagging seen in recent years at the Vetch. For about the last half an hour, the referee seemed totally out of control as he booked Howard for almost nothing and let a far worse Reading challenge go unpunished.

As the tackles flew in, with the provocative Roberts usually the victim, yellow cards were used as confetti, the eventual total being seven (I think).

Thankfully, Freestone, Roberts and Saverese ensured that extra time (and almost certainly a guest appearance by the red card) were not needed. All three are candidates for Man of the Match, but my vote goes to Kris O’Leary who put in a solid, committed and level headed performance at centre-back, dealing admirably with the tricky partnership of Martin Butler and Jamie Cureton.

So this was not a pretty one, but it will be a decent boost to the confidence ahead of Saturday’s tricky trip to Ashdon Gate. The midfield still has more spaces than Tesco’s car park on a Sunday Evening with the obvious need for an attacking midfielder still reamaining. Also, the team showed (very) briefly that if they get the ball down and play football, they can actually create chances on goal. Let’s not get carried away, this was a poor Reading performance and it has taken just 2 wins and 2 goals to get us to the semi-finals, but with just Southend, Brentford and Swindon left, a trip to the Millennium Stadium is now a very real possibility.


Saverese 75

Att: 2500


Freestone 8: Distribution wasn’t great but made one good and one brilliant save to keep us in the match.

Howard 6: Chose to shoot from long distance when he should have crossed on a couple of occasions. Otherwise his passing wasn’t good.

Price 7: Guess what? Out of position on at full-back and he struggled. Gets a 7 for commitment and putting in a couple of decent tackles to shut up the idiots who had booed him even before he took to the field.

O’Leary 8: Good performance, solid and in control, barring maybe a couple of occasions. MoM.

Smith 6: Poor. One of the biggest culprits when it came to kicking for touch. His heading was also off target tonight.

Keegan 6: Saw very little of the ball and failed to impress when he had it.

Romo 5: Saw quite a lot of the ball and still failed to impress when he had it. Passing was repeatedly wayward and was AWOL for some periods.

Lacey 6: Conspicuous by his absence on too many ocassions, like the rest of the midfield, not much to judge him on tonight.

Jenkins 7: Did ok on the left of midfield but again saw little action as the midfield was constantly bypassed. Was almost totally redundant after Casey came on.

Roberts 7: Out of position up front so perhaps a 7 is harsh for someone who created the goal. He caused the Reading defence the most problems but wasn’t at his best. He could also have been punished for retaliating after one of the numerous innocuous tackles on him.

Saverese 7: Well taken goal and is clearly invaluable to the team. His goal was the only header he won all night and he had no other clear chances on goal. But hey, he got the winner.

Casey (on for Keegan 60) 7: Did well on the left flank, causing enough problems to earn himself a start on Saturday in my opinion.

Cusack (on for Casey 85): Nasty looking injury to Casey saw Cusack make a brief appearance.

Casey’s injury is perhaps not as bad as it looked, he got up off the stretcher before heading for the changing rooms.

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

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