Swans Back Into Play Off Positions

Tuesday, 8 December 2009, 22:00
4 mins read

WALES ONLINE

LEE TRUNDLE’S goal-scoring prowess made the difference for a second game running as Swansea City got back to winning ways against Championship strugglers Plymouth.

Having failed to make the starting XI despite his superb brace against Peterborough at the weekend, Swans hero Trundle needed just seven minutes to prove a point against the Pilgrims.

After a dominant first half with limited chances, the veteran showman came on alongside Gorka Pintado to form a two-man strike force and it paid immediate dividends.

It was an unusual move for Swans boss Paulo Sousa, who usually favours a 4-5-1 formation. But, after disappointing results against Newcastle and Peterborough, it was exactly what his team needed to secure all three points.

Perhaps more importantly for the club’s fans, it was another sign their prodigal son’s return was money well spent. For anyone that thought signing Trundle was just a move for the romantics, his goal return from what has to be acknowledged as limited opportunities speaks volumes.

Don’t be fooled into thinking this result was all about one man, though. Trundle may have stolen the show at Peterborough and he will probably get the headlines tomorrow, but this three points belong to the whole team.

Having both taken and lost a lead in injury-time at the weekend, the hosts were desperate to take all the spoils last night.

And, more significantly in the bigger picture, they wanted to start turning possession into points again.

Much of the credit goes to Sousa and the need for a positive reaction after Saturday’s late blow was reflected in his starting XI.

The Portuguese made six changes from the weekend with Leon Britton, Alan Tate, Nathan Dyer and Joe Allen all returning, while new signing David Cotterill was also handed his full debut.

The final change was probably the most controversial though.

It wasn’t much of a surprise that Spanish striker Pintado dropped to the bench, but, despite his efforts against the Posh, Trundle was again forced to settle for a place on the bench as Besian Idrizaj made his first appearance since September 29 to occupy the lone role up front.

It was a decision many will see as an unexpected snub for Trundle, who is still trying to secure his future at the Swans.

Despite a limited number of first-team opportunities, the 33-year-old’s tally of five goals makes him the club’s top scorer now and, having come on with just 20 minutes remaining, his two vintage strikes on Saturday produced the cutting edge that largely eluded his team-mates for the rest of the game.

But, as well as scoring five goals in eight games for the reserves, Idrizaj certainly offers the height and physical presence Sousa seems to crave in attack.

And, setting up a golden opportunity within the very first minute, the former Liverpool youngster initially looked like he might be an inspired choice.

With two neat touches, Idrizaj released Dyer into the box. Unfortunately for Sousa, while Romain Larrieu was off his line sharply to deny the winger, Kari Amason also reacted quickly to head Allen’s goal-bound effort away to safety.

With the trio of Allen, Dyer and Cotterill looking particularly lively, the hosts were once again the better team in the game’s early exchanges.

But, with former Swan Rory Fallon causing his old club problems in the air, Plymouth had at least come to play and looked dangerous enough on the break.

While they continued to control possession, Swansea lost some of their momentum as the half progressed.

And, while some desperate lunges were needed from the visitors to cut out some decent crosses from the right, Larrieu was again off his line quickly to make a vital block when Pratley threatened from Angel Rangel’s lobbed pass on the half-hour .

As half-time approached, the most noticeable difference was that, apart from his early brilliance, Idrizaj had failed to really make an impact on the game. For all his running, the Austrian rarely got on the ball and, when he did, his first touch let him down on too many occasions.

That’s not to say it was Idrizaj’s fault the scores remained level going into the break. But, thankful Fallon wasted a brilliant chance to put Plymouth in front on 42 minutes, changes were needed if Sousa’s men were to make the most of their control.

The former Champions League winner has already shown he has a Plan B though. And, with both Trundle and Pintado coming on at half-time, the 14,000-strong crowd got to see it as the hosts switched to a 4-4-2 system.

Credit to Sousa, the move yielded almost instant rewards as the new strike force combined to put his team in front. Dyer fed Pintado down the right and, as the Spaniard whipped in a superb ball, Trundle pounced to beat Shane Lowry to the ball and prove his worth yet again.

The goal naturally saw the Swans confidence grow and they pushed forwards in search of second. But Trundle’s efforts would all have been in vain had Dorus de Vries not produced a superb save to deny Fallon 10 minutes later when the New Zealander was left unmarked in the box.

It was to prove a rare opportunity for Paul Sturrock’s men. Swansea took control of the game and, constantly threatening on the break, they looked far more likely to score the next goal.

That being said, despite opportunities for both Trundle and Dyer, the only real incident of note as the game moved towards the final whistle was Lowry’s sending off.

The defender had already been booked for a rash tackle on Pintado and, when the pair tussled in an off-the-ball incident late on, a second yellow ensured he went in for an early bath.

With the extra man, Sousa’s men were able to close out the three points comfortably.

And, as they avoided a repeat of Aaron McLean’s late leveller at London Road, Trundle’s goal proved decisive this time round as they moved back into the play-off spots.

SOURCE: http://www.walesonline.co.uk/footballnation/swansea-city-fc/2009/12/09/lee-trundle-fires-swansea-city-to-victory-91466-25351627/

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