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23:19 14th December 2002

Antony Moxey Presents a fans eye view of

So City give Neil McNab his maiden home league victory at last on a filthy afternoon at a rain-sodden Park to run out worthy 1-0 winners.

City lined up: Big Kev; Roscoe, Rivaldo, Hiley, Pilkington, Bazza; Pettefer, Thomas, Ampadu; Coppinger, Flack.

This was one of those 'have to win' games, and as such this is exactly how it was played. Both teams struggled to find any coherent passing, and the tackles were uncompromising. Both teams, however, were also keen to make the most of the conditions, hampered only by their own lack of vision and the rain - blowing towards the away end all afternoon and worsening with every minute. Swansea threatened a couple of times, but nothing Big Kev couldn't cope with as all their shots were meek back-pass affairs. Contrast with City's bustling efforts though. Notably on twenty minutes from the newly restored Thomas who burst into the box in true Scholes fashion to unleash a venomous drive against the upright with the keeper stood watching in admiration. Again at the end of the half he could have put City in front but managed to steer a difficult header over the bar. Coppinger had a couple of efforts too, but scoring isn't his forte and he showed us why; one effort agonisingly wide and the other agonisingly crap. But the half ended with City deservedly in the ascendancy, even if it was only on effort and efforts and not on goals.

The second half continued as the first, with both teams finding life difficult as the rain got heavier and the pitch deteriorated. The game wasn't helped either by the ref's decision to dish out more cards than at a Pokemon collectors convention, and give free kicks for nothing offences. But two worked in our favour. After Moor had replaced the anonymous Bazza, Swansea were awarded a free kick just inside their own half for an offence that the referee made up there and then. Players are told to retreat ten yards - perhaps that ought to include team mates as well, for the Swansea taker lamped the ball at his own player full on in the earhole who was stood about five yards away. The ball rebounded to Reinier who charged down the wing in front of an appreciative Shed to win our umpteenth (fruitless) corner of the afternoon.

More bizarre refereeing was to come after 70 minutes. A melee inside the Swansea area resulted in another mysterious free kick being awarded - it must have been against us because if it was for us then we'd have a penalty surely. No. Apparently we had an indirect free kick about sixteen yards out for something or other, and despite furious protests all Swansea's players lined up on the six yard line. No matter though - the ball was laid off an inch to Roscoe who righteously lashed home, via a wicked deflection I think, to give us a deserved lead.

Swansea threatened little after that, although Reinier may have done better once or twice had his control not let him down, and close to the end the very pleasing sight of the ever willing Breslan coming on to replace a tired Coppinger rounded the afternoon off nicely.

So a win's a win, regardless of quality. Not the flowing moves of last week, but this was a different circumstance and very different conditions. As McNab has rightly said, it wouldn't matter one jot how this result was achieved, the result itself was everything. Not that it was a totally unwatchable game either - it had it's moments. Both teams tried their best and struggled and in the main cancelled each other out. City deserved it I think, and on balance had both more and better chances (and the fact that the Swans had two former Tory cabinet ministers playing for them - Michael Howard and Leon Britton, and that they've got a Michael Jackson on the books too). One thing that let Swansea down badly though was the quality of their finishing, more often that not blazed high over the bar - rather like a Mark Cooper free kick really - when the afternoon demanded that the keepers be tested more often.

And as for reports that Swansea were bringing anything between 700 and 1000 fans - pah, rubbish. 400 tops, and very well behaved they were too, although it seemed as though the entire D&C police force was there this afternoon to ensure order was maintained.And onto Oxford next weekend and taking a 100 per cent December record with us. Can we make it three wins in a row? Probably not, but if we can learn that not every game will be a passer's delight like last weekend and that sometimes you have to get stuck in, do the ugly stuff and grind out a result, then there are some winnable games coming up, notably at Plainmoor on Boxing Day against a Torquay side that are having a torrid time of it at the moment and then home to Macclesfield a couple of days later. Have we turned the corner yet, who can tell?

The next three league games will show us what we're really made of, and the revival (if that's what it is) has to keep the momentum going at Oxford if we're going to have any season at all.

A good result today - enjoy it.

Antony Moxey
    Data provided by Press Association