Macclesfield 1 Swansea 3

Saturday, 8 February 2003, 0:01
4 mins read

Our last visit to Macclesfield saw the 4-0 cup defeat which brought on the departure of you know who. It has been nearly twelve months since our last away win, but it’s joy at last. An overcast day with a strong cold swirling wind waited for the team as they did their now customary bonding huddle, in fact both teams did it.

With Tate suspended and Nugent injured, O’Leary & Watkin returned to the starting line up. The successful run of late showed in the early play as players seemed to have an extra spring in their step and the newfound confidence resulted in them reacting much quicker to the ball. We dictated play from the off and it only seemed time before we took the lead, as Macclesfield offered very little with our new midfield trio running the show. On around the 20 minute it look like that goal had come, a break down the right saw a ball crossed inside the area along the six yard line finding Johnrose coming in towards the far post, it had goal written all over it, but he managed to put it wide, a glaring miss. Within 5 mins he nearly made amends when meeting a cross near the penalty spot he sent a header towards the top corner only for Wilson to make an excellent save. Roger had very little to do, apart from collecting the odd wayward cross, as our goal was hardly threatened. He did however collect a booking. He chased a ball with Lightborne towards the corner flag, resulting in a corner. Rog collected the ball and threw it over the barrier, the ref deciding that it was throwing the ball away. With no Macc player on hand to take a quick corner it seemed very harsh as the ref had not issued any cards even though there had been many suspicious tackles by Macclesfield. A needless booking, we think it’s Rogs fourth of the season. One more and he faces a suspension, very worrying with our lack of cover. Our play was crying out for a goal as the game was there for the taking. It duly arrived 5 minutes from the break as Watkin sent a looping header over Wilson and with a couple of bounces found the net. As it was at the far end it took a double take by the Swans fans that it had gone in and not behind before the celebrations started.

Just as the 2 mins of added time started Macc drew level. An attack down the Macc right saw Howard not for the first time facing 2 players. A low cross into the six-yard box saw the ball bounce of O’Leary into the net. A very cruel scoreline at half time as we had dominated for most of the half, looking more like the home team.

The half time chat saw us still confident of a result, but with the pessimism that it could be a ‘game of two halves’. Luckily it was not to be as the Swans carried on where they left off. We again dominated proceedings with the midfield in full control. More and more crude tackles came in from Macclesfield with the ref only giving free kicks but no bookings. The breakthrough came around 50mins. We were awarded a free kick to our right just outside of the penalty area. Smith & Martinez had a brief chat, and the move worked to perfection as a deep cross by Martinez found Smith leaping at the far post sending a powerful header into the far top corner. Surely we wouldn’t let Macc back into the game this time. As far as the players were concerned the answer was ‘no way’, as they battled and chased every ball. Even though time was ticking away we still felt confident of the 3 points. The third came from a bit of class by Martinez around 70mins. The ball rebounded out to the edge of the area where he set up for a volley, only to see a defender blocking goal. In one sweet movement he shifted the ball the slightest to his right and sent a controlled yet powerful shot into the top corner. A piece of class, which most players would just have lashed out at.

So here we were 3-1 up and looking extremely comfortable. Phillips replaced Britton who had taken a few clattering tackles as we easily saw out time with only a couple of long distance shots from Macc. We had one further chance of getting a fourth. Thomas chased and intercepted a back pass and being free on near the corner of the six-yard box tried to place a curving shot into the far corner. It lacked power and was saved by the keeper. His body language showed his lack of confidence as he set up for the shot.

Again the result came from a hard working team effort, but as usual a couple of individual comments.

Although O’Leary scored another own goal, he made amends on numerous occasions with strong tackles and blocks.

Smith was a tower of strength again, encouraging players at every opportunity.

Another much maligned player, Steve Watkin, as well as getting the initial breakthrough, covered vast areas during the game and his target man role was performed to a much higher standard than his previous outings, linking well with the midfield.

Both full backs performed well, especially Howard considering the operation he needs.

Thomas battled well, but does look as if he would benefit from a short rest.

Rog had very little to do, but handled solidly with very few wayward kicks.

The midfield were again a joy to watch. Oh to have had them from the start of the season.

The only downside, was a below par performance from Durkan who although able to cross a ball when not under pressure, did not match the efforts of his teammates.

So a very happy trio, as we are off the bottom and back with the pack. It’s now a lot tighter, but we can look forward with confidence to our remaining 16 cup finals

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

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