Swans 0 Jamaica 1

Sunday, 5 August 2001, 0:00
3 mins read
Swansea started the game with the following line-up – further indication of what John Hollins would like to start with next Saturday?
Freestone, Jenkins, Howard, Todd, O’Leary, Cusack, Mazzina, Keegan, Coates, Sidebe, Watkin
The game kicked off 45 minutes late due to the hold-up that had not only seen some fans arrive late but also key players in Roger Freestone, Lee Jenkins, John Williams and for the Jamaicans Walter Boyd. Boyd took no part in the game for either side but instead took a seat in the directors box alongside Swansea manager John Hollins who kitted himself out in shirt and tie for the occasion.
The Centre Stand at the Vetch was a sea of colour as the Jamaican fans made themselves heard as the teams took the pitch for the game.
And it was Jamaica that got out of the blocks the quickest with a series of breaks towards the Swansea goal and were unlucky not to take the lead early on as Griffiths hit the inside of the post after a decisive break. But the opening goal was not long coming as again they broke strongly and from the left a free kick was headed into the net by Lawrence to much delight from the Jamaican support.
At this point, the Swansea crowd were wondering just what damage the Jamaicans could do to the Swansea defence and one comment was heard as to whether this game could seriously dent the teams confidence ahead of next week’s opener at Macclesfield.
However, Swansea gradually started to come back into the game without really threatening to tear Jamaica apart. Nick Cusack headed into the Jamaican net only for the flag to have been raised several seconds before and Steve Watkin saw a powerful shot well saved by the keeper.
However, it was Jamaica that were still making the running, as you would expect from an international team and won most of the loose possession in midfield and Mazzina, in particular, was made to look ordinary as he dived in for challenges without success.
Swansea started the second half with renewed effort and Michael Keegan, very much out of the game in the first half, hit a free kick which was deflected onto the bar and was the closest that Swansea had come.
Jamaica seemed content to soak up any Swansea pressure and Steve Watkin came close but they showed their attacking prowess with some more smart moves and trickery with the ball.
Both sides were making regular changes with Swansea bringing on subs in Leigh DeVulgt, Matthew Bound, David Romo, Gareth Phillips, John Williams, Stuart Roberts and Jason Jones which made for the game dying a little but attempts from both sets of supporters added to the atmosphere within the ground.
Jones pulled off a series of good saves towards the end of the game and as the clock struck 90 minutes, Sidebe hit the post to deny Swansea an equaliser.
After two minutes of stoppage time the referee signalled the end and a one-nil victory for the Reggae Boyz was probably a fair reflection. You have to wonder whether they took it easy after the first ten minutes but even then you have to keep them out and Swansea did this through a mixture of solid defending and good goalkeeping.
From our point of view, I was impressed with Sidebe more than Mazzina of the two new foreign imports. He seemed more able to mix it with the opposition and on a couple of occasions showed some deft skills with the ball.
It’s difficult to pick out too many other decent performances although Todd and O’Leary were commanding at the back and with Jenkins and Howard, the defence looked solid enough although, as you would expect, the pacy Jamaicans ripped through a few times.
Coates and Keegan were ineffective on the wings and will need to step up a gear or two for the league campaign. I wonder if Mazzina could do a job on the wing as the one time he broke there he put in a solid cross. Watkin looked the same as ever and too often had his back to goal although he did fire in a couple of shots.
Tough to gauge just what kind of performance this was but on paper a 0-1 reverse is not that bad against a side that has played in World Cup Finals.
The real sad part of the day was the poor PA system which could hardly be heard on a half empty North Bank and a very poor crowd which was a reflection of the pricing policy.
And it would be hard to let today pass without a mention for Portsmouth’s goalkeeper Aaron Flahavan. May he rest in peace. It really is just a game.

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