Date:Sunday March 30 2008
Roberto Martinez's side have refused to take their foot off the accelerator and have swept aside all before them with a real drive and belief. It is that belief and drive that has put Swansea on the brink of not only promotion to the Championship but could very well see the club crowned champions.
It is that confidence that saw a Saint David's Day win against a Huddersfield Town side that the club have not beaten in the league away from home since the 1992/93 season. Martinez's squad were clearly focused on ensuring that the Yorkshire club would not be the first team to do the double over the runway leaders. They would not disappoint with a Jason Scotland goal just before the break being the difference between the two sides.
It would also be the Trinidad and Tobago international who was to suffer a injury scare halfway through the second half when he sustained a suspected broken toe. Thankfully for The Liberty Stadium outfit, Physio Richie Evans initial prognosis was to be discounted and Scotland passed fit for the return of former Swansea manager Kenny Jackett; whose current side - Millwall were languishing one point off the relegation places in 18th place.
Jackett's return was eagerly awaited by the Swansea City faithful since the former Watford manager took over the reigns at the New Den. In what would prove a fruitful return to the Liberty Stadium Jackett's men would deny Swansea City a record breaking 19 game unbeaten run. Swansea went behind with just 20 seconds gone when a defensive lapse by Kristan O'Leary and Alan Tate allowed Lewis Grabbam to rise above the duo to fire in a header low past Dutchman Dorus De Vries.
Jason Scotland's spot kick conversion gave Swansea hope of securing all three points but the good work in the 2nd half was undone by another defensive lapse by Alan Tate to allow Jay Simpson on loan from Premiership outfit Arsenal to fire past De Vries.
It has not been all plain sailing for Swansea, as the club were dumped out of the Johnstones Paint Trophy at the hands of the MK Dons courtesy of a nerve racking penalty shoot out. Jemal Johnson's 69th minute winner in the first leg of the Southern Section final was the difference going into the second leg, as Swansea looked to mount a comeback.
It took a 20th minute Jason Scotland spot kick to level the aggregate score but it was Trinidad who was to miss in the shoot-out that was to cost Swansea and the fans a memorable away day to New Wembley.
Defeat has been rarely tasted by Roberto Martinez and the squad so far this season. In spite of this Swansea were humbled by Stuart Gray's Northampton Town. The Sixfields Stadium side launching a surprise play off bid won over the league leaders 4-2 to put second-placed Doncaster Rovers back within six points of Swansea City.
One player that proved the difference was former Swan Adebayo Akinfenwa, who really should have put more gloss on a Northampton performance that deserved so much more. Back on track to the push for the Championship, Swansea earned a good 2-0 win over a controversial game against Bristol Rovers.
In a tense end to the game which saw on loan striker Fabien Brandy sent off following a two footed challenge on Danny Coles, Assistant manager Graham Jones was arrested by Somerset and Avon police after an altercation with the rovers defender in a tunnel bust up. No further charges were brought against Jones as Paul Trollopes side faced Swansea less than a week later.
The fixture against Rovers also marked the return of Owain Tudur Jones back into the fray. The former Bangor City player also made his Liberty Stadium return under a week later as he came on as a 2nd half substitute, in the thrilling 2-2 draw against Bristol Rovers on Easter Monday. Beset by injury problems since 2006, Tudur Jones has had a stop start recovery from injury.
Jones looked set to make a February return only to limp off at half time in the reserve game against Bristol Rovers reserves on the 13th February.Since then he made his international bow in the Welsh 2-0 win over Luxembourg yesterday evening. Swansea also welcomed a new face into the ranks following Ashley Williams move from Stockport County on loan till the end of the season. Highly rated , Williams took his place on the bench for the away fixture to Hartlepool United yesterday but did not make his Swansea début.
An early Gary Liddle goal threatened to cause a shock win for the Victoria Park outfit but a goal from Darren Pratley got the Swans back on level terms. Controversy hit just before half time as referee Lee Probert awarded Swansea a penalty , their 12th of the season after Ben Clarke felled Jason Scotland in the Hartlepool penalty area, despite having a strong claim that he had gotten the ball not the man. Scotland needed no invitation to slot hop past Lee Barratt in the Hartlepool goal. Pratley's second added the final touches to a hard fought win. Swansea are now within touching distance from promotion that could be secured as early as Saturday should Doncaster Rovers lose their next two fixtures.
Games are running out fast. With only six fixtures remaining Swansea are counting down the days to the end of what will prove to be one of the most thrilling in recent decades.
You can catch my weekly BBC column up until and past the end of the season.Click here for my BBC Wales Terrace Talk column
Date:Sunday March 30 2008
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