Rochdale – Fan’s Views

Saturday, 5 October 2002, 0:01
3 mins read

John Hollins would always comment that it was harder to play against 10-men and today that statement came true again as Swansea were held at home by another of Hollins former teams, Rochdale.

With the crowd still not managing to get over the 4,000 mark, talk before the game seemed to be in general that a win was a must before we start losing touch with those sides against us and maybe some of that pressure was getting to the players as we struggled to put much together in the first half. Snap shots from Jenkins and Watkin both went wide and Rochdale were providing little better despite their lofty position at the start of play. Indeed, although nothing was being created you would say that Swansea marginally had the better of the opening half hour which would be encouraging.

Swansea took the lead just past the half hour mark when Lee Jenkins broke down the right hand side and played a square ball across the area avoiding the incoming Steve Watkin but falling at the feet of James Thomas. Thomas controlled well and from that point on you only expected one outcome as he buried his shot into the back of the net to give the Swans the lead. It was a finish of sheer class in a first half littered with poor ball and scrappy play often interrupted by a fussy referee.

However, the game exploded into life just before the interval when Jason Smith controlled the ball on the edge of the area and played the ball away to safety. Sadly, Clive Platt was still advancing towards Smith and his challenge dumped Smith in a heap on the floor and managed to get most of the seated crowd to their feet. The referee was quick on the scene but not before Roger and a further Rochdale player went into their own seperate battle. The red card was immediately shown to Platt but at this stage Mumford had joined the battle and left it sporting a bleeding mouth. It was in truth a dreadful challenge worthy of the red card but I have to admit to being surprised at a referee who had the bottle to show it. Freestone, Oliver and Mumford were all shown yellow cards for their part in the incident although I would suspect that Roger possibly breathed a sigh of relief for his part.

Amazingly, the expected injury time then never materialised and the referee blew for half time minutes later with seemingly only one minute added on all half with the stoppage being at least 3.

Talking to several people at half time, we were optimistic that we could get the win that we so badly needed and that chances like this didn’t come much better. And the way the second half started you would have expected us to wrap this one up. A shot from Jenkins flew just wide of the post and a header from Watkin just over as Swansea pushed hard before falling into our usual trap of sitting back and trying to protect the lead a little. Whether this is an instruction or a habit I have no idea but rarely do we succeed when we try to do this and before we started doing it I felt that we had Rochdale on the back foot big time.

However, their equaliser was nothing to do with sloppy defending although a few round me suggested that we should not have let Connor get a shot in but when a player turns, moves and hits a curling shot into the corner, in my opinion there is little (within the rules!) that you could do to stop it and Connor took the accolades of his supporters and from the generous Swansea fans recognising a quality finish when you see one.

This stepped Swansea back up a gear and in truth this game should, and could have been won. Mumford was the first to miss a decent chance when he broke into the area and a one on one with the keeper saw the ball frantically deflected away for a corner before Keaveny spurned an even better chance blasting over from inside the six yard box. Whilst Mumford was unlucky Keaveney’s was a glaring miss and one that probably sums up the way this season is going. Not least it stopped me netting a nice 45-1 return on a Thomas first goal/2-1 win double but that’s by the by.

Full credit in this game to Rochdale for battling back at us but we should have had this one in the bag and then we could suggest we are turning the corner. Never mind, there’s always Oxford!

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

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