Rushden – The Fans Views

Saturday, 10 August 2002, 0:00
7 mins read

Home >Story Index> Swansea 2 Rushden 2 – The Fan’s Views

Match Report by Phil Sumbler

Well it should have been a winning start and it very nearly was. Only a late Rushden striker denied us the three points on opening day for the second successive season.
Nick Cusack showed his first starting line up with a back three of Smith, Evans and O’Leary with David Smith and Lee Jenkins holding the wing back roles. Paul Reid, Matt Murphy and Gareth Phillips provided the bite in midfield with James Thomas and Jamie Wood the firepower up front. With Roger at the back in goal, this was always going to be a tough test against last year’s play off finalists and a crowd of over 6000 settled down to see how Swansea performed.
Rushden started the brighter side and set the tone for the day with a superb opener. A central free kick 30 yards out was superbly struck by Lowe past a diving Roger Freestone into the corner of the net and the season was underway, albeit the wrong way, just 13 minutes in.
However, Swansea were not behind for long as a cross from the left was headed down and into the goal by James Thomas for a goal on his debut much to the delight of the home fans who were enjoying themselves in the Swansea sun.
Both sides struggled from here on in during the first half to establish any form of control although in fairness to Rushden they were probably getting the lion share of possession but rarely troubling Roger. Close efforts from Jenkins and Wood were matched by couple of Rushden efforts and as the teams trooped off for half-time, 1-1 was a reasonable scoreline with little indication of the drama that was to follow in the second half.
Swansea looked more lively as the half started and matched Rushden with their play but again clear cut chances were few and far between. The game, however, was lightened up by a superb piece of individual magic by Paul Reid. Heading towards the centre stand and seemingly with nowhere to go, Reid turned two defenders before curling a shot from the edge of the penalty area past the diving Turley to give the Swans the lead and mark an early entry in goal of the season. As a replacement for Jonathan Coates, this was something that has been sadly lacking in recent years and was a fine way to mark your league debut for the club. There was anticipation that this would be the end of the day but sadly Swansea seemed to slip into old habits as they sat deeper trying to defend this lead and let Rushden come at them more often.
And it was from one Rushden attack that the game sparked into further life as Kristian O’Leary gave away a free kick on the edge of the area. The referee called O’Leary to him and waved the red card, presumably seeing it as dangerous play much to the disgust of the Swansea captain and the home crowd. Cusack responded by immediately introducing Sharp to the action, replacing Wood to revert to the five at the back.
The numbers were evened up when Barry Hunter dumped Paul Reid to the floor in front of the North Bank to receive his yellow card and this seemed to be the final piece in the jigsaw that would see Swansea win. But how wrong can you be?
Five minutes of injury time were conjured up for a game that saw just these two real incidents which took no more than two minutes. And it was in the fourth of those five minutes that Rushden equalised. A ball fell to Underwood at the edge of the area and he drilled his shot into the corner of the net past an unsighted Roger Freestone.
Comment has to be made here about the performance of the referee. Although some way away, I would dispute the need for a red card for O’Leary although following the laws to the letter the referee felt this was right. The red card for Hunter was undisputed but the five minutes of injury time? Seems a bit odd to me. The look on the face of Brian Talbot when questioned (!!!) by fans in the centre stand said he was as bemused as the rest of us and he can count himself lucky that his team has one point on the board.
In all, a decent performance from the Swans and encouraging signs there for the season ahead but definitely a case of what could have been. Man of the match for me – Paul Reid purely for the piece of skill that got him the goal but also a very good all round performance.
Match Report By Clive, Gareth and David Hughes
The start of another season, but not just any season, it could be the last full season at the Vetch, and more importantly the first season under new owners. A very healthy crowd of 6327 included about 170 from Rushden of whom 2 coaches had enjoyed the delights of the Mumbles before the game. Also before the game members of the side who played and beat their Cardiff counterparts 4-1 & 4-0 were presented to the crowd by John Toshack. The Swans included 5 of the 9 new signings Smith, Reid, Murphy, Wood & Thomas. The opening 10mins were quite frantic with Rushden looking the more dangerous with both Darby & Lowe causing problems to the Swans defence. Just as things started to settle Rushden scored with a blistering free kick from Lowe from about 30 yards, centre field, into the top corner past a diving Freestone. What a start to the season, but we were soon level. Wood chased a ball out to the wing turn and sent a perfect cross to be met on the six-yard box by Thomas who headed past the goalie into the net. 1-1 after 15mins of frantic football. The game then settled with both sides going for a second but without any clear cut chances, with a few free kicks from an over fussy referee. The second half saw Rushden again causing the Swans problems with Hall becoming more involved in their attacks. Rushden weren’t getting it all their own way as the Swans battled their way back and after a couple of long-range efforts, one by Woods just clearing the bar, we took the lead. What a goal it was. Reid chased a through ball out towards the corner of the area, cut in passed two defenders and curled a beauty into the top corner. The sun was out we were 2-1 up the NB in full voice, football was back, it was party time. That only happens in films though, Rushden nearly grabbed an equaliser with Rog having to drop sharply to save on the line. We started to defend deeper as Rushden looked for the equaliser. Then disaster O’Leary (our new captain) lunged at the ball after 4 Rushden players got in each others way, not having a clear view of whether it was studs showing, but to everyone’s surprise he got a straight red, and off he went. The Swans reorganised with Sharp coming on with Wood being replaced. We were now defending much to deep and allowing Rushden to attack. There was no get out as each clearance was picked up by Rushden on the half way line. Things did turn in our favour when from one clearance Reid chased a ball on the half way line towards the wing pushed it passed Hunter who brought him down his second yellow saw him leave the field. With the sides now back on terms numerically John Williams replaced Thomas who like Wood received warm applause from the fans. With the seconds ticking away the points looked in the bag but then 5mins of added time was shown. This gave Rushden an extra boost as they looked for the equaliser, but it was the Swans who nearly got a third with John Williams outpacing the defence but the ball would not drop for him and the goalie gathered. With their final attack Rushden made it 2-2 a ball was half cleared and without the Swans closing the second ball down another unstoppable shot went passed Rog. To sum up. First thoughts on the new players. Reid wants to play got fully involved and not short of skill MOM. Smith no real comment but did seem off the pace a few times. Wood, a good game with good link play again shows skill. Thomas, a thinking forward who finds space but looks as if he won’t like the rough and tumble that defenders in this division will give out. Murphy, well I think he will frustrate fans this season. He showed glimpses of skill but for a midfielder did not get involved waiting for the ball instead of looking for it. Then again it was only one game. One comment away from the new players. Jenkins showed his continued improvement and if he keeps injury free can make the right back slot his own Comments from the friendlies intimated that the defence was much tighter, today it was shaky with many late blocks. Hopefully we wont see many attacks that include players like Lowe, Darby and Hall. In saying all this, it was a positive performance and the team showed commitment, which was missing in many games last season. If the bookies have it right we drew with one of the divisions favourites, with 4 cracking goals, and as long as we eradicate some of the simple mistakes we can look forward to the rest of the season with hope. We have a squad not just the first team, so at least injuries, suspensions and loss of form can be covered. A final thought. Today was a police free match, with control being done by the stewards. When we equalised a handfull of fans climbed the wall from the NB onto the track, please stop, the club does not need fines that may follow if incidents like this are included in the referees report.

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