Swansea 3-3 Shrewsbury

Tuesday, 25 September 2001, 0:01
3 mins read

There aren’t many times that I came back from the Vetch with optimism under John Hollins but tonight I have to say that I did. Despite the fact that we scored three goals and failed to win, this was a decent Swansea performance and one from which we should take heart in the coming weeks and months.

Nick Cusack had come back into the Swansea team tonight at the expense of Andrew Mumford giving the Swans a line up of

Freestone

Jenkins O’Leary Todd Bound Howard

Coates Phillips Cusack

Roberts Williams

And it was Swansea that had the first half chance of the game when Roberts saw his run thwarted by the Shrewsbury keeper and Jonathan Coates was unable to reach the rebound before the ball was cleared.

However, before the first minute had passed it was Shrewsbury who took the lead as Swansea twice failed to take advantage of the chance to clear the ball and the inevitable cross was headed past Freestone by Nigel Jemson to give Shrewsbury the lead.

From then on in the 45 minutes passed with Swansea in complete domination mode. This was a different Swansea to the last one I saw against Exeter. They seemed confident and the ball was being passed around very well with players making runs for the ball that has seemed lacking in the past.

Stuart Roberts was in particular causing great problems for the huge Matthew Redmile in the Shrewsbury defence who seemed unable to cope with a smaller player and his pace. Roberts had come close once with a deflected shot before he notched his fourth of the season in the 24th minute.

Picking the ball up on the corner of the area, Robbo took a look and run across the edge of the box before striking a perfect shot which curled into the bottom corner of the net. One thing that is clear from Stuart’s reaction is that he loves scoring goals and the obligatory run to the North Bank followed before being mobbed by his delighted team mates.

The noise of celebration had hardly died down when Swansea found themselves in front. A long ball from the Swansea defence saw John Williams and Stuart Roberts in off-side positions, BUT applying the laws of the game to the letter, the refereee played on as neither were interfering with play and were both coming back from their off-side positions. Michael Howard breaking again on the far side of the pitch saw his attempt to get the ball cleared by the keeper but this fell only to Coates on the halfway line who hit a first time precision shot into the empty net. 2-1 Swansea and nothing less than they deserved. By this stage the side was rampant and playing football with some ease against the league leaders.

The first half was marred by a serious looking injury to Leon Drysdale who crumpled on the pitch after a 50/50 challenge with Coates and was stretchered off. He did appear on the visitor’s bench during the second half but on crutches.

Swansea headed into the half time interval deservedly up and hopes were that the half time team talk when winning from Addison and Nicholas was different to the one that used to be delivered by Hollins and Curtis.

Whether it was or not, I couldn’t say but Swansea were not as effective in the second half. Again, we saw them defending deeply and the midfield sat back too often meaning that the balls to Roberts and Williams were often ineffective unless they could kill the ball immediately.

Williams was replaced by Tyson about halfway through the second half, and in fairness he did look tired. He played very well in the first half but had faded in the second and the substitution came at around the right time.

Shrewsbury though were coming back into the game and it was no real surprise when they equalised. Most concerning of the goals we are conceding at the moment is that it is free headers. I have seen 7 league goals scored against us at The Vetch this season, 5 of them are from free headers. This one from Karl Murray who planted it into the bottom corner for 2-2.

This spurred Swansea back into life a little and they soon found themselves back in front again. This time there was none of the finesse from the first two goals as Coates scrambled the ball into the net after some confusion between three or four players but a goal is a goal and Swansea were looking good for three points.

But there was more drama to come and Shrewsbury grabbed another equaliser with 7 minutes to play. A shot, heading into the goal, and maybe already in it, was handled by O’Leary and the referee pointed to the spot. Once that decision had been made, there was no option but to show Kris the red card and he duly walked and turned round only to see Jemson planting the penalty past the outstretched hand of Freestone. 3-3.

Addison threw Appleby on for Roberts in a last attempt to try and save the game but despite a couple of corners, the last of which was wasted by Swansea on the final whistle with a reluctance to get the ball into the area. Final Score 3-3.

Man Of the Match. Very hard to choose as there were quality performances from Coates, Phillips, Howard, Roberts and O’Leary throughout the game and I will go against the sponsors and again plump for Roberts who must be kept up front in the future – he is far more effective in that position.

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