Halifax 0 Swansea 1

Saturday, 23 February 2002, 0:01
3 mins read

Report By Clive, Gareth and David Hughes

Winter returned with a vengeance today, well for the journey north anyway, with periods of snow blizzards. Nearing Yorkshire we were met by a clear sky and sunshine. Another short flurry around 2.00pm but then a clear cold day for the game. With Cusack and Mumford suspended the Swans lined up in a 5-3-2 formation of Freestone, Phillips, Sharp, Todd, O’Leary and Howard. Coates, Lacey and Brodie, and Sidibe and Watkin up front. There was a crowd of 1600 including approx 120 Swans.

The ground now has 2 new covered terracing behind the goals the old North Stand and the new South Stand nearing completion. The opening minutes were played showing the nervousness of both teams without either stamping any authority on the game. It was all stop start with both teams getting caught offside or giving away silly free kicks, all this on top of a team of officials who themselves wouldn’t look out of place in the Conference.

We only had to wait until the 10th minute, before the game had its first of few highlights when a cross from the left was met by Watkin on the six yard box to the left of goal glancing a header passed Richardson into the far right corner. As it was at the far end it was a couple of seconds before the Swans fans realised it was a goal and started the celebrations.

Apart from the goal there was not much action in the first half apart from two golden chances for Halifax where from the edge of the box mid area, Kerrigan & Richardson missed good chances with only Rog to beat, one shooting wide and the other allowing Rog to block the shot. Watkin was clattered from behind resulting in a booking for the Halifax player and anger from Watkin. Around the half hour mark Roger either fell awkwardly or was caught by a player and fell to the ground under a challenge and was in great pain, this was ignored not only by his own players who trotted up field but also by the ref who made him play on. Rog managed to clear into touch before requiring long treatment.

Halifax took the throw in and started to build an attack until, under a chorus of boos one of their players rightly kicked the ball out. Their unsporting behaviour didn’t end there as they put the Swans under pressure from the resulting throw in. Half time arrived after with us holding on comfortably to the 1-0 lead. Halifax started the second half brightly and we found ourselves under constant pressure and unable to clear our half. With a mixture of offsides and weak attacks we weathered the storm. Sidibe had to gilt edge chances to make life easier for us when in similar one on ones with the goalie shot tamely both times when ‘goal’ was written on both efforts.

This only encouraged Halifax who continued to battle in midfield where we offered very little. On 75 Lacey was replaced by Williams, with Watkin dropping into midfield. With each Halifax attack slicing through our midfield it seemed only time before they got the equaliser, in fact an attack down their left found Phillips chasing an attacker who bore in on goal, just inside the area just as he was about to shoot, Phillips managed to get in a crunching tackle to save the day.

With the Swans retreating more and more it was only a mixture of Phillips & Todd with a combined tackle blocks that saved another attempt on goal. Roger played his part yet again with many good saves especially one on the 90 when he tipped over the bar a certain goal, a world class save. In the last 10mins there was a period of about 2 minutes when we could not get out of our area, and only a series of defenders throwing themselves at the ball prevented Halifax drawing level.

One late attempt on goal saw Williams in the box, and blatently falling to the ground in an attempt to cheat the ref for a penalty. It was not given, and strangely no yellow card. What can be taken from this game? A better side than Halifax would have taken us to the cleaners. Sidibe should have scored twice but Halifax had more of the play and with better finishing would have beaten us.

On this showing Halifax are destined for the Conference and to the few Swansea fans who took delight in mentioning that fact, think on, ‘But for the Grace of God’. This game was all about the result, we got it, and are now 16 points clear, and can now believe we are safe. There must now be a hard long look at the playing staff, many were found wanting today, passes went astray, positioning sense seemed non existant.

They must learn to attack the ball and not automatically retreat and defend, we so often give the opposition time to play their passes. No one takes responsibility for their actions or influence the play. After an away win, and making it three wins in a row, we wish we could be more positive, but reality tells us we need major surgery, even with the return of Smith, Cusack, Mumford and Jenkins our team lacks a general who can dominate midfield and make other teams react to us and not vice versa.

Only a month ago we won our biggest battle, lets not let it be wasted.

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