|In the absence of Nugent, Wood and Durkan, Flynn opted to start with a 4-4-2 lineup. Tate made his return in central defence alongside Smith, with Howard and Evans as full backs. The 4 across the midfield were Martinez, Johnrose, Britton and Hylton, the Villa youngster being asked to fill a left sided role. Watkin and Thomas started up front. |
Bournemouth started the stronger, forcing Roger into a comfortable save when a weak header from a short corner on the left was directed straight into the keeper's midriff. Shortly afterwards, the home side spurned a great chance. Tate was backtracking with a Bournemouth striker running onto a through ball from midfield. The players tangled legs, and Tate ended up on the floor with the Bournemouth player through on goal. If the roles were reversed, and the striker had gone down, I'm sure something would have been given. Anyway, the ref allowed play to go on. Roger did well by forcing the Bournemouth man wide, and the shot eventually hit the side netting.
That seemed to be the wake up call that Swansea needed. After some good build-up play, Watkin fed Thomas who shot against the post from the edge of the area. The next 10 minutes was all Swansea, with Britton outstanding again. Several corners were won, but no clear cut chances resulted.
Just before the break, Bournemouth made us pay. Another short corner on the left wasn't cleared properly. The ball was played back into the far post, and looked harmless enough until Smith lost his footing leaving Bournemouth's striker Hayter with an easy chance, which he tucked away neatly.
Lenny Johnrose had been his usual influential self in the first half, but limped off just before the goal to be replaced by Gareth Phillips. It looked like it could be his hamstring trouble again. If so, it could be a few weeks before he returns. That'd be a big blow.
Bournemouth were out of the blocks quickly in the second half, forcing several corners, and one amazing save from Freestone. After the initial onslaught, Swansea dragged themselves back into it. Although the flowing passing football from our good period in the first half was never reproduced, I still thought we could get something out of the game.
Marc Richards replaced James Thomas, and John Williams came on for Leon Hylton, who hadn't really made much of an impression going forward. Yes, we were back to 4-3-3.
We then had our best chance of the game. A fantastic ball inside the full back by Martinez found the overlapping Michael Howard (yes, you did read that correctly - the OVERLAPPING Michael Howard), who put in a dangerous-looking low cross across the six yard box. It only needed a touch. It didn't get one.
That was with 10 minutes to go. After that we created little of substance. However, what I thought was going to peter out into a 1-0 defeat had a sting in the tail when Freestone brought down a Bournemouth player who had taken the ball around him in the box. Roger was lucky to escape with a yellow card. The penalty was blasted home, sealing the win for the home side.
I've got to confess that I left at that point. The car park looked like it could be a nightmare to get out of, with only one small exit; and with a 90 minute drive ahead of me, I made a dash for it, missing the third goal. You'll have to rely on someone else's report or TV highlights if you're really that keen to know about it.
In summary, I think this game was a small pothole on the long road to safety. We played the more attractive football, but Bournemouth created the bulk of the chances. Nonetheless, 3-0 flattered them. With Exeter losing, we didn't lose too much ground. This was, after all, a game from which we should have expected nothing, so the damage could have been worse in that respect.
We have a goalkeeping problem coming up, though. That yellow card will see Roger suspended soon. I fully expect Brian Flynn to have already identified some cover. Maybe the rumours about Tony Pennock have some substance? Johnrose will be missed, too. We need his presence in midfield.
MoM? I'd give it to Britton for a fighting first half performance, although the much-maligned Steve Watkin deserves a mention for battling hard all night.
One more thing - there was excellent travelling support considering this was a midweek fixture. I'd estimate that about 300 Jacks turned up, and (as usual) made most of the noise.