Date:Sunday May 28 2006
Swansea City lost the Playoff Final in the worst possible scenario as penalty misses from Adebayo Akinfenwa and then Alan Tate meant Barnsley won promotion to the Championship.
A strong crowd of 55,419 were at the Millenium Stadium for this eagerly awaited final and it was the black and white army that made themselves heard right throughout the game.
Kenny Jackett kept his faith in the side that beat Brentford 2-0 in the 2nd leg a fortnight ago, with Knight and Fallon forming on forward partnership in front of O'Leary, Robinson, Britton and Tudur-Jones in midfield. Austin and Monk were given the hard task of keeping Nardiello and Richards quiet and they had a busy time as the Tykes took control early on.
They went agonisingly close when Gueret got down well to his left to push a ball that went just a touch wide of the post. Their chances and possession in a good 20-minute spell for Barnsley got them a deserved goal really. You can see in the build-up that our defence were sitting too deep and were giving too much space to the wingers on either side. Austin failed to clear the ball and it fell nicely to the unmarked Paul Hayes who struck the ball well to give Ritchie's side the lead.
This goal woke us up as we started to get back into the game and as we battled to get an equaliser we had a dominent spell until the break.
Less than 10 minutes later Rory Fallon scored an absolutely awesome goal with an overhead kick. Tudur-Jones flicked on a free kick and Fallon was there to acrobatically score from the edge of the 6-yard box.
We turned the game around with 5 minutes remaining of the first half thanks to a blunder by their keeper. Robinson had a shot at goal and the keeper pushed the ball into the net as he dived to save it. The Swans fans were exctatic having gone ahead after going a goal down but we were in for nervous second half.
We didn't sit back though after the restart and we looked to put the game beyond doubt but not long after the hour mark and a foul from Monk gave Barnsley a free kick in a dangerous position. Nardiello stepped up and with a crowd of players in the way, Gueret was unable to do anything when the shot flew low just past his left leg.
The cardboard cutouts in the North area made some noise again as the sides were level again. Swansea dominated in the 2nd half but Barnsley looked a threat on the counter attack.
Jackett made his first change when Trundle came on for Knight with 21 minutes to go. Both sides had chances to win the game in normal time, with more being created by the Swans.
Reid went close for Barnsley but his downward header bounced over the bar.
Alan Tate then had an even better chance to put us ahead again as he broke free on the right hand side. I must mention at this time that Tate and especially Britton were combining and playing brilliantly out wide on the right. So tate is through on goal, but his shot goes high and wide.
Jackett then brought Fallon off who received a standing ovation from the Swans fans and Akinfenwa came on to replace him.
With normal time up, we then went into extra time with 30 more tense minutes left to play. Trundle should have wrapped things up when looked to beat every player around him before getting a shot in and thankfully he did, but as he went inside the penalty box he screwed his low shot somehow wide of the post.
Still the sides couldn't be seperated so it went into penalties. Fans in the South Stand seemed confident Gueret could come up with a vital save or two as they started chanting his name.
Trundle and Britton both scored for us to put the shootout at 2-2. However, Akinfenwa tried to dummy the keeper but put his shot high over the bar. Gueret kept going the same way, which was the wrong way as Barnsley were easily slotting home thier penalties past the French keeper.
Tudur-Jones scored his and well done to him considering the added pressure he was wonder. Kay made it 4-3 and their keeper went from zero to hero as he kept out Tate's poor effort.
It was heartbreak for the fans, players and staff to be the better side throughout 120 minutes of a tough football against good opposition.
Fair play to Barnsley though, they kept their nerve when it mattered but Willy Gueret may well still be thinking that he could have done better.
It would be unfair to pick out certain players for yesterday's effort as they all done us proud and put in maximum effort which is what we wanted.
It's pointless talking about ifs and buts now as we've got to go through it all again in League One. We'll know what to expect and the squad and manager now have the experience of League One which adds to our advantage but I couldn't help but feel that the fans will be expecting the Swans to gain automatic promotion next season and with this pressure they'll be under that they didn't have this year, I just hope we don't fail as a result. Teams like Tranmere, Bristol City and Nottingham Forest spring to mind as they all were expected to do well and struggled significantly.
UP THE SWANS! YOU DONE US PROUD
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Date:Sunday May 28 2006
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