Swansea 0 Bristol R 1

Thursday, 26 December 2002, 0:01
3 mins read

5,879 hardy souls braved the miserable boxing day weather to see this vital relegation six pointer and every one of them (except the 300 or so Rovers fans) must have been wondering why they’d bothered at all as they trudged out onto the rain soaked Swansea streets at 3pm.

Swansea had the best of the opening exchanges and Jamie Wood was certainly making his presence felt in his makeshift winger position. In fact it was a cross from Woods after 10 minutes that saw the Swan’s first real chance at goal, but unfortunately Marc Richard’s header didn’t cause Bristol keeper Scott Howie any problems. As the half wore on, the Swans were getting the most of the possession and at times played some great football in what were very difficult conditions. Rovers first chance came from a Kevin Austin shot, but luckily Andrew Mumford was on hand to clear the ball.

The Swans nearly took the lead after half an hour after another Woods run saw his cross met by Leon Britton on the far post, Britton’s diving header looked to be heading goalwards until it took a deflection from a Rovers defender, James Thomas met the resulting header, but the ball landed on the roof of the net. Disaster struck only minutes later when a low cross from Danny Boxall wasn’t cleared and Paul Tait popped up to steer the ball home from close range. As the game approached half-time, Rovers were growing in confidence and mistakes were starting to creep into a clearly deflated Swansea team.

Half – Time : Swansea 0 Bristol Rovers 1

I don’t know what Brian Flynn tells his players in his half-time team talks (or maybe he doesn’t talk to them at all) But whatever he said, they certainly looked like a different team in the second-half. Sadly, they looked like a team that couldn’t have scored if they’d carried on playing until next week. Every time they reached the final third, attacks broke down, either through mistakes, lack of skill or simply because they had no idea of what to do next. Only a last gasp challenge from Tate prevented Rovers from doubling their advantage shortly after the re-start. The Man Utd loan player impressed me today, despite one or two mistakes. But then again, it doesn’t take much for any player to stand out in the current team does it??!!

The few second half chances that we managed to carve out were squandered with woeful finishing and the fans turned their frustration onto the referee, after two penalty appeals were waved away. The Swans never looked like breaking down the Rovers defence and just seemed devoid of any ideas. Flynn, as usual, refused (or didn’t know how ) to change his tactics, in the hope of finding a breakthrough, and the rest of the game was played out under a very sombre atmosphere, as the large crowd filtered away into the rain. The inevitable boos and jeers greeted the final whistle and nobody could blame the crowd for venting their anger.

In my match preview earlier this week I stated, that if we lost this game, we would be playing conference football next season. Nothing I saw today has changed that view. Unless there are some major changes very soon, the inevitable WILL happen. We now have two very difficult away games and I won’t be surprised to see us at least six points adrift at the foot of the table before the end of January.

So what’s the answer? If I knew that, I’d be the manager, and not tapping away at this keyboard. But one thing is for certain, if Brian Flynn doesn’t have the tactical know-how to see what’s going wrong (and change it!!!) during the game, then perhaps it’s time to find a man who can!!! Everybody who has watched Flynn’s team this season knows that we are being over-run in midfield, but he still insists on playing 4-3-3. If we are going to stop giving away cheap possession, we have to pack the midfield with a 3-5-2 or at least a 4-4-2 formation. We are now in a worse position than we were before Flynn arrived and we can’t blame it on “Cusack’s signings” any more (Flynn is playing his own team now)

They say that when you’re at the bottom, the only way is up. I’m sorry to say, that from where I was standing today, the only way is down. It’s going to take a minor miracle to turn things around and unless the board make some very big decisions in the next few weeks, we better start getting used to the idea of conference football next season. Because that’s where we’re heading.

 

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

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