Team: Ikeme, Ramage, Gorkss, Connolly,Hill, Ephraim (Vine), Faurlin, Leigertwood,
Buzsaky (Cook), Taarabt, Priskin, (German)
Subs Not Used: Cerny, Brown, Oastler, Balanta.
Leading up to the game, I read comments that the Swans are a team who don’t score many goals but are hard to beat, hence their position in the table. I also read that they are negative and a tad boring to watch, usually playing with one up-front and packing the midfield. Well, the team that started didn’t appear to be negative on paper as they had two up-front, the little and large duo of Kuqi and Dyer and yet looking at our side, we appeared to have no forwards whatsoever and we were at home. A forced change for Stewart (suspended) meant a straight forward game of musical defenders as Ramage took up the right-back berth and Connolly filling in for Stewart. But the second forced change was astonishing in that Simpson (thigh injury) was replaced by Buzsaky ?With Vine, Balanta and German on the bench, why replace a centre forward with a midfielder !!! And somehow Priskin was in the starting X1 for the fifth consecutive match. Although I don’t agree with booing his name when it was announced before the game, I can understand the frustrations of the crowd. And this match was no different from the past four when it came to describing his so called performance in the Hoops.
We started brightly with Buzsaky curling a decent shot past the far post in the 3rd minute. Who knows, had we started with a forward, he may have got on the end of the ball as it flew across the face of the goal. So with five midfielders in Hoops and Priskin just wandering around aimlessly like he always does, it was the negative Swans who split our defence like the parting of the Red Sea in the 12th minute which found Dyer in acres of space and his toe poke beat Ikeme, hit the post and rolled along the line before being hoofed clear by Gorkss. Six minutes later, another parting in our defence of biblical proportions again saw the unmarked Dyer bearing down on goal and a mixture of poor finishing and comical defending, saw the ball ricocheting onto Ikeme’s shoulder and miraculously out for a corner.
We were all at sea at the back and were lucky it was still 0-0 with less than 20 minutes gone. The duo up-front were making excellent runs, pulling our defenders all over the place and enabling their midfield to exploit us with some excellent passes. Kuqi nearly got on the end of another defence splitting pass but the ball eluded him as he was clean through. He also put a free header from a corner over the bar, thankfully. We weren’t even at the races.
No changes at the beginning of the 2nd half and it started off the same as the 1st with the visitors having the majority of the possession. In the 55th minute, as two of our subs were getting ready to come on, the Swans took the lead with a hell of a lot of fortune in the build-up. A through ball to Dyer unfortunately hit Hill on the back as the keeper was advancing off his line. Alas, the ball fell nicely into the path of Dyer, who just lifted the ball over Ikeme into the empty net. Although they probably deserved the lead, it was gutting the way we conceded and you have to feel for Hill, who must’ve felt like he’d been pickpocketed by Dyer.
Then Warnock brought on the two subs and the biggest cheer of the day so far when Priskin was hauled off to be replaced by German. Buzsaky was also replaced by Cook. But for some strange reason, the Manager decided to play Cook out of position on the right wing and moved Ephraim out wide left. Within a couple of minutes, Cook put in two excellent crosses, one from a free kick and another from a corner which had the keeper backpedalling to palm it clear from under the bar.
Suddenly, we looked a different outfit altogether and it appeared the Swans had reverted to the boring tag they had received by just sticking the whole team behind the ball rather than going for a second goal. Ramage and Cook were having a lot of the ball down the right and were causing them problems. Then on 72 minutes, Vine came on for Ephraim and we continued to attack the Loft. Shortly after, a corner from the Paddocks reached the far post having been deflected off a Swansea player’s head, Vine kept the ball in and drilled a shot to the near post where the young Antonio German was lurking. Fair play to the kid, he missed with his first attempt but persevered and buried his second swipe at the ball. Hallelujah !!!
Shortly after, a shot on goal was brilliantly saved two-handed. Unfortunately for them, it was by a defender, unfortunately for us it was on the edge of the ‘D’. Somehow, the culprit managed to escape a booking ??? The free kick was blasted goalwards by Taarabt, hit the wall of Swansea players, looped up into the air and Connolly beat the oncoming keeper with a deft header. For some reason only known to the linesman by the Ellerslie, it was deemed offside. He seemed to conveniently forget that the ball was last touched by a defender ! Then almost on full-time, Vine sped past a player down the left and the player handled the ball as it went past him. Vine had left the defender for dead, but the game was stopped by an over fussy ref for a free kick. Again, the Swansea player escaped a card.
At the final whistle, Sousa stopped and hugged nearly every one of our players. I see his comments after about being upset that they didn’t win, but if you sit back on a one goal lead, then take off one of your players who was giving us the run-around, you deserve all you get I’m afraid. I thought the three subs for us changed the game and for that Warnock has to be thanked. The 2nd half performance was much improved but he got his tactics wrong from the start in my opinion. On Tuesday, we must have a forward on the pitch for starters.
Ikeme: 5 – See last week, or week before, or week before that. He still can’t kick it.
Ramage: 6 – Did fairly well. He was able to push forward in the 2nd half, although unsurprisingly to little effect.
Connolly: 6/7 – I prefer him at centre back to right back (or centre-mid) and he coped well with most. If memory serves me correctly, he might have been at fault for their goal.
Gorkss: 7 – Another solid performance from the big Latvian.
Hill: 6 – He gets caught out of position quite a lot, although not quite as much as Delaney used to at times !
Faurlin: 7 – Great game again. Perhaps not quite as instrumental as in previous weeks, but was kept intact fairly well by the Swansea midfield.
Leigertwood: 7 – A most captain-like performance from him but occasionally sloppy.
Ephraim: 7 – Another great performance from Hogan and yet again was taken off. He must be wondering what he has to do to get 90 minutes.
Buzsaky: 5/6 – Played at the head of the diamond with Taarabt up-front today but went rather un-noticed though.
Priskin: 2/3 – I wasn’t there to hear the booing of his name before kick-off, and I don’t particularly agree with it, but the ironic cheers at his substitution (about 5 weeks overdue) says it all.
Taarabt: 6 – Infuriating and selfish again at times but very skilful as always. Warnock clearly likes him and so therefore he must teach him how to use it. PLEASE.
Cook: 7 – Came on the right wing and looked dangerous coming in to shoot on his left foot. Strange looking technique that paid off.
German: 7 – He missed one relatively easy chance but then made up for it by pouncing in the six yard box. Surely deserves a chance over Priskin.
Vine: – Another one who deserves a chance over Priskin (along with Balanta, Bent and German).