Swansea 2 Bristol R 1

Friday, 21 December 2001, 0:01
2 mins read

A much better Swansea performance secured all three points against a Bristol Rovers side which ended the game with just nine men following two sendings off within the last five minutes. The perfect start to the Christmas programme.

Swansea made two changes from the side that started against Carlisle with Mamady Sidibe coming in to replace John Williams and partner Steve Watkin in the attack. Neil Sharp came in for the departed Matthew Bound to leave the starting line-up as follows

Freestone

T Evans Sharp Cusack Mumford Howard

Coates Phillips

Brodie

Sidibe Watkin

But it was a far from perfect start from Swansea as Nathan Ellington caused havoc inside the first five minutes. A warning shot came in just the second of those as he broke clear but was unable to convert a one on one chance with Roger and that should have been warning enough to Swansea. However, just a minute later, the same ball was played and this time Ellington was able to turn inside the retreating Sharp and place the ball over Freestone into the top corner to put Rovers ahead.

And so the pattern looked set that Swansea were to be heavily beaten by a pacy striker who clearly had more than enough pace for the defensive trio.

But a credit to Addison’s side was that they did not let this worry them and they hit back well. Brodie was the first to have a serious chance as a one on one situation with the keeper was created but incredibly he failed to hit the target under pressure from six yards.

But this was a frantic start to the game and Swansea found themselves on level terms on the quarter of an hour mark as Sidibe ran onto a long ball and placed it calmly past the advancing Howie to send the lowest home crowd of the season into raptures.

Barely had the cheers from the opening Swansea goal dies down when just two minutes later they were ahead. A good header from Sidibe was bundled into the net by Watkin and the game had been turned on it’s head inside these two minutes.

And this certainly spurred Swansea to life as they had several more chances within the half, some saved by Howie and some near misses and 2-1 was maybe not a fair reflection of the final 35 minutes of the half. However, Rovers had chances of their own and Roger pulled off two saves to keep the lead intact before the interval.

Second half without a doubt saw the home side play some of their better football this season. Brodie seems to be improving every game and he was running well and passing well as Swansea put together some scintillating moves which could and at times you thought should have resulted in further goals. Howie’s goal was living a charmed life as a mixture of skill and luck kept Howard, Brodie and Sidibe from adding to Swansea’s lead.

Rovers though were never completly out of the game and Ellington in particular was guilty of a couple of misses and Roger again kept the ball out a few times in one of the better games this season.

Two late sendings off reduced any chance Rovers had of getting back into the game as Swansea secured their first home league win since October 23 when Darlington were beaten at the Vetch.

The first red card came from Mike Trought throwing the ball at Jonathan Coates after the midfielder had steered the ball out of play. Trought’s dissent bought an immediate second yellow card from the referee and he quickly left the field. Four minutes later it was Latvian Vitalijs Astafjevs who saw red after a late tussle with Phillips. This was enough to start the party at the Vetch which certainly had it’s share of Christmas revellers in there tonight.

Three valuable points for the home side and if this could be followed up with positive results against Exeter and Cheltenham in the next week, 2002 could arrive with the league table looking a little more healthy.

Man of the Match at the ground went to Watkin, I’ll run with Sidibe who caused as much, if not more, trouble than Nathan Ellington. Swansea 2 Bristol Rovers 1.

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