Tranmere Hit Swans With Late Sucker Punch

Tuesday, 11 March 2008, 19:40
3 mins read

It was a cruel blow for the Swans who had looked set to record a win and maintain their 8 point cushion at the top of the table but as Chris Greenacre slid in at the near post he got just enough on it to push it past De Vries and give the home side a return of just one point from the two fixtures.  And with three successive away games to follow it could be a nervy two week period for the Swans as their lead is gradually eaten away by both Doncaster and Carlisle.

It does appear that the race for the two automatic promotion places will come down to a straight fight between the three teams that currently occupy the top three places and with the Swans in the driving seat at the moment things are very much under our control but any more of a closure in the gap that we have and you would easily forgive people for starting to become more than a bit twitchy as they crave a return to the Championship level.

Even a rare Alan Tate goal – and a very good goal at that – wasn't enough as the Swans wasted the chances to kill the game off during the first half when the opportunities were there – Scotland was denied twice in the first fifteen minutes by the Tranmere goalkeeper alone.

There was always an air of inevitability that there would be a bad patch at some stage this season, the real test of character is how a team deals with that and maybe the three away games are a blessing – five months unbeaten on the road may inspire the confidence that we need at the moment and anything of five points or more from the three games would be an excellent return and a big step towards the desired target.

The Swans welcomed back Dennis Lawrence into the heart of defence with Kris O'Leary dropping not just from the starting line-up but from the matchday squad altogether as the Swans lined up thus

Dorus

Rangel     Tate     Lawrence     Austin

Britton     Bodde     Pratley

Butler     Scotland     Robinson

To be fair the Swans played some nice stuff in the first half with plenty of possession as they looked to try and break down what seemed to be a well organised Tranmere side.  Some neat touches – particularly down the right – were never really rewarded with the final ball into the box that I expect everyone would have preferred to see.  As mentioned before Scotland had two shots well saved by their keeper but too much of the ball was being played in the middle third of the park where Mr Singh failed to cut down on a couple of Tranmere niggly fouls in the first half.

And it seemed destined to be another goalless first half until an Andy Robinson corner found its way half clear to Alan Tate who struck a sweet shot into the top corner of the net to give the Swans the lead that on balance of play they probably just deserved.

Would that be enough to release the pressure?  It seemed not.   In a throwback to 'olden times' we seemed to sit back more in the second half and became more content to let Tranmere run at us which they did in small bursts but when it happened they always looked dangerous.   There were moments where it seemed that the second goal may come but the team started to look tired for periods and that gave the visitors the lift that they probably needed.

Possession was conceded cheaply and whilst there were moments where a goal looked possible there was all too often a poor first touch, a misplaced pass or a hoof of the ball just to relieve the pressure for a second although in fairness that makes it sound as if the pressure was constant – it wasn't that but it was increasing in frequency.

Bauza was stripped and ready for action ten minutes before he was given his chance in place of Scotland whilst with less than ten minutes left Brandy replaced Robinson as we returned to a 4-4-2 formation to try and defend the lead we had built.  Brandy almost created a chance within second of arriving but it was to no avail as the clock ticked with the Swans holding onto their slender advantage.

The fourth official had barely signalled the 3 minutes of stoppage time when a hopeful ball was chased down the right flank by the Tranmere player and his low cross was turned into the net by Greenacre and the Swans had blown it right at the death.

Another disappointing night at the Liberty – the optimists will tell you we still have a six point gap, the pessimists will tell you that we only have a six point gap.  The realists will tell you that we have given up eight points of a fourteen point gap in the past seven days and that is a trend that we have to buck sooner rather than later.   We can, we are good enough and we have to believe in that factor.   And we can start doing that at Northampton on Saturday.  Can't we?

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

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