Swans cement their place at the top
Jan 26 2008 Western Mail
Doncaster Rovers 0-4 Swansea City
SWANSEA CITY sent out a huge signal of intent to the rest of League One an emphatic victory over in-form Doncaster Rovers.
The Swans have now not lost away from home since their defeat to Leeds United on the September 22 last year.
But Doncaster, themselves unbeaten in six and having lost only once in 17 before last night, proved their promotion credentials by making Swansea work hard for the win.
Victory cements Swansea’s position at the summit of League One and must now make them odds-on favourites for automatic promotion come the end of the season.
Rovers lost centre-half Steve Roberts midway through the second half, but were lucky to escape conceding a penalty for what appeared to be a certain spot-kick.
Swansea had to do without hard-working midfielder Darren Pratley for the crunch match, the ex-Fulham man was ruled out with a hamstring injury picked up in Tuesday night’s win over Crewe.
The 22-year-old will also miss next week’s vital tie against fellow promotion hopefuls Nottingham Forest and next Saturday’s game against Oldham through suspension after picking up 10 yellow cards.
Jason Scotland returned after being rested for the home victory over Crewe as Swans boss Roberto Martinez moved to a 4-4-2 formation.
Doncaster midfielder Brian Stock, whose stunning free-kick earned Rovers a superb away win against Leeds United last weekend, was missing after contracting a virus in midweek. He was replaced by Martin Woods.
Both sides quickly looked to take full advantage of the fantastic Keepmoat pitch which seemed to be suffering no ill-effects of weeks of torrential rain.
Spaniard Guillem ‘Bussy’ Bauza, retaining his place in the starting line-up at the expense of Andy Robinson, was first to take advantage of Rovers’ high line across the back four.
He went on a fine run from inside the Swans half, but, after beating two defenders, his shot was poor and did not trouble Neil Sullivan in the Doncaster goal.
Bauza had two more half-chances in quick succession shortly after, the first coming after good work by Angel Rangel down the right flank.
Rangel drove the ball across the face of goal, but Bauza couldn’t turn his flick goal-bound and the chance was lost.
Soon after, Paul Anderson found Bauza on the edge of the box, but he blasted well over after a good first touch.
Swansea took the lead after 28 minutes and it was Anderson’s pace down the wing that proved to be the catalyst. The Liverpool loanee stole the ball from right-back James O’Conner inside the Swans half and sprinted 45 yards down the touchline before being fouled.
Referee Carl Boyeson let play continue as the ball fell to Jason Scotland, but he was hauled down under the challenge of two Doncaster defenders right on the edge of the box.
Up stepped Dutchman Ferrie Bodde to prove once again why he is so vital Swansea’s push for automatic promotion. The talismanic midfielder smashed a free-kick under the Doncaster wall to grab his fifth goal of the season and his second since coming back from a five-game ban.
The ball appeared to take a slight deflection off the side of the Rovers’ wall, leaving Sullivan stranded.
All of the Swans good work was almost immediately undone when former Swansea striker Jason Price headed home at the back post, but the Welshman’s effort was ruled out for offside.
The opening goal seemed to stir a bit of life into the home side and Swans had to endure a period of pressure as the half wore on. James Coppinger twice went close with free-kicks from 25 yards, but on both occasions the ball finished the wrong side of Dorus de Vries’ crossbar.
Gary Monk and Dennis Lawrence had to deal with a number of high balls into the box as Rovers attempted to make use of the height of Price and strike partner Mark McCammon, but the Swansea defence was well up to the task and the half finished 1-0.
Price was gifted the chance to grab an equaliser two minutes into the second half. Rangel failed to step out of defence, leaving Price onside with only de Vries to beat, but his first touch was poor and the Swans keeper was quickly out to close him down.
Within minutes Swansea had scored a second and again it was Bodde at the heart of the play. He found space in the centre of midfield on 51 minutes and threaded a ball through to Scotland, who was all on his own down the right.
The striker waited for the on-rushing Sullivan before unselfishly feeding Bauza in the middle of the box and he was left with the simple task of turning the ball into an empty net from six yards.
Swansea were denied a penalty five minutes later when Steve Roberts brought down Buaza as he raced through on goal. The Spanish striker appeared to be a full five yards inside the box, but referee Boyeson gave a free-kick on the edge of the area to the surprise of everyone in the ground.
Roberts was given a straight red for a professional foul, but it was scant consolation for the Swans when Bodde drove the resulting free-kick wide.
It would have been made even worse if Richie Wellens, who scored twice against the Swans at the Liberty Stadium in September, had been able to turn in his shot moments later instead of inches wide of the right-hand post.
There was never any chance of the league leaders sitting back on their advantage and Swansea continued to press the depleted home side.
Martinez brought on youngsters Joe Allen, Febian Brandy and the skilful Robinson as the Swans looked to capitalise on the one-man advantage.
It was Brandy’s pace that got Swansea their third goal, the Manchester United trainee was bundled over in the box by Gareth Roberts and referee Boyeson had no option but to give a penalty.
Roberts will think himself fortunate not to have been sent off, but Scotland’s cool sidefoot into the bottom corner was punishment enough for Rovers.
Brandy compounded Rovers’ misery in the fourth minute of added time when he latched on Scotland’s flick from a Robinson corner.
Keep up to date with the news. Receive our free E-Newsletters
Have your say on the latest news and sport in our Forums