Swansea 3 Oxford 2

Friday, 28 March 2003, 0:00
4 mins read

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It had been dry in Swansea for weeks leading up to this game but it was this afternoon that the heavens chose to open and despite Swansea Sound claiming it to be a ‘passing shower’ it rained all night leading up to and during the game.
As I took my seat in the stand I passed Jonathan Coates and James Thomas who had taken their seats early and Coates looked a pleased man to be back at the club that he served in his first spell for nine years. Due to his late signing Coates had to be content with a spectators role but he led the applause as Leon Britton received his PFA player of the month award before the game started. Nick Cusack was another to have a warm reception back at the Vetch as he took part in the same presentation and he took his seat in the stand to warm handshakes from all around him.
Swansea started well with Richards and Nugent up front with Brad Maylett who worried the Oxford defence all night. Indeed most of the game had been played in the Oxford half when they took the lead with a classic breakaway goal. A Swansea attack was broken down and Oxford broke down the right before the ball was crossed with inch perfect precision along the ball for Scott to nudge it past Cutler who was given no chance.
Kevin Nugent was booked soon after and before Swansea equalised was lucky not to see another red card. As he challenged for a high ball he left the Oxford defender on the floor with the sound of a slap audible in the centre stand. The incident had been seen by the assistant referee but the referee chose just to warn Nugent where as many may have been tempted to show the red card at this point.
Swansea were soon level when Marc Richards picked up a loose ball at the edge of the area and drove a shot into the top corner to the delight of the Vetch faithful. Richards chose to celebrate immediately with substitutes John Williams and Roger Freestone – testament perhaps to the team spirit that exists within the camp?
With 10 minutes before half time Swansea broke into a spell of flowing football and looked the side that were chasing promotion rather than their visitors. A couple of close calls followed but no goals and a 1-1 scoreline was possibly about fair at half time despite the lions share of possession being Swansea’s.
The second half though saw Swansea up the game a gear visibly. Maylett was outstanding on the right wing and showed an ability and willingness to take people on that has been missing all season. With Martinez, Johnrose and Phillips (on early for the injured Britton) controlling the midfield and Smith and Tate looking unbeatable at this stage at the back this would have been one of our best spells all season.
And deservedly we took the lead 10 minutes into the second half when Maylett took the ball to the byline and crossed perfectly for Johnrose to leap and head home at the far post – Swansea had turned a one goal defecit into a one goal lead.
And just seven minutes later they had stretched that to a two goal advantage. Maylett was played through on the right and was scathed down by Robinson in front of the North Bank, and more importantly inside the penalty area. The referee had no hesitation in pointing to the spot. What followed though was unexplainable at the time but from hearing what Radio Wales said makes some sense. The Oxford players were protesting to the linesman who was then hit by a missile. Smith and Martinez immediately asked the North Bank for calm although the Radio Wales commentators seemed to think that the missile had come from the Oxford supporters. If the latter then fine but if it has come from the North Bank then it is inexcusible and it will sooner or later cost the club money and worse still possibly points.
After several minutes and treatment for the linesman Richards calmly stepped up and placed the ball in the opposite corner to the keepers dive and the Swans were rocking. Maylett hit the bar soon after and the game was developing into a one-sided affair.
But this is Swansea and we like to make us fans sweat at times and Oxford pulled one back with eight minutes of normal time remaining. A loose ball in the penalty area was struck home well by Scott and Swansea now were on the back foot.
As 90 minutes game, the fourth official signalled six minutes of stoppage time and Oxford pressed forward. For three of the six minutes they looked for all the world as if they may grab an undeserved point but their momentum disappeared and Swansea played out time to the relief of all around.
To a man this was a superb performance. Losing Britton inside ten minutes was a blow but Phillips played his part and Britton’s absence was not felt. My man of the Match would be Maylett who was a joy to watch at times although full credit to every single player out there.
On this evidence, the Swans should stay up – six more performances like that and we will do.

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