League Division Three – Colchester Utd 3 Swansea City 1 – Friday 11th April, 1997.
Match Report by Richard Major
Team: Freestone, Thomas, Ampadu, Willer, Edwards, Jones, Jenkins, Penney, Torpey, Molby, Coates.
About 200 Swansea fans travelled to Colchester for this Friday night game which, after last Saturday’s result, was a surprise in itself. Sadly, they weren’t rewarded for their efforts by the team.
I’ve not seen Willer play since his debut at Barnet and since then he’s got himself a new…er…barnet – bright “Billy Idol” blonde – but if thats the reason for his poor performance tonight then I suggest he gets it changed again soon. He never really looked comfortable and instead just illustrated how much we are missing Keith Walker’s influence in the centre of defence.
Colchester were the better looking team almost from the whistle. They were bigger and stronger and seemed far hungrier for the ball. We had the better of the early chances with Molby almost scoring from long range but was denied by a good save from the ‘keeper.
However, it was no real surprise when Colchester went ahead on 22 minutes. A long straight ball into the box found Whitton unmarked and he had enough time to turn 180 degrees and drive the ball wide of Roger into the bottom left corner of the goal.
From the restart, we lost the ball immediately and Colchester were only inches wide from going two up. Swansea then started to take more and more control of the game and it looked like we would get to half-time at least on level terms. With just a few minutes left on the clock we won a free kick about 25 yards out and Molby seemed to be setting himself up for a long range special. Then, for some reason, a large gap appeared in front of the goal and Molby decided at the last second to exploit the lapse and blast it. Unfortunately he pulled it inches wide and the chance was gone.
We started the second half as brightly as we ended the first. Coates had an absolutely golden chance when, after a defensive mix-up, he was through on goal with just the goalkeeper to beat. The ‘keeper stayed on his line allowing Coates to bring the ball to the edge of the six yard box but instead of slotting it home he bizarrely decided to pass it to the incoming Torpey. The pass was woefully inadequate and went straight to the feet of a Colchester defender who gladly cleared it.
Swansea then had a couple of half-chances which were either put wide or hit tamely at the keeper. It was then time for Colchester to hit the killer blow. A great move by the Colchester midfield led to the ball being played in from the wing for Sale to rise above the defence and head in their second.
Two minutes later, the Swans hit back and gave the supporters a glimmer of hope. Jenkins was brought down on the wing about six yards from the by-line and Ampadu took the resulting free kick. The ball was scrambled clear but only as far as Molby who drove the ball hard from about 20 yards into the bottom right corner. However, we didn’t really try to capitalise on the goal and Colchester began to dominate the game.
Their third goal came from a complete cock up by Willer on 66 minutes. Willer was on the edge of the box and under absolutely no pressure at all. He mistimed (at least I hope he mistimed) his clearance and it went straight to the feet of Abrahams. He ran at Freestone with Willer ineffectually trying to tackle him and hit a powerful shot at goal which Freestone managed to parry. Unfortunately, the ball fell at Abrahams feet again who then took the ball wide of Roger and shot into the empty net.
Colchester were then happy to sit back and defend their lead. Swansea then had a few good chances but our alleged “strike force” managed to miss some absolute sitters. Both Thomas and Torpey had at least two chances each with just the keeper to beat but neither of them forced a save. We knew things were desperate on 85 minutes when Jenkins was replaced by none-other than Carl Heggs but not even that demon of pace was enough.
The tactics for this game seemed to be “give the ball to Molby as much as possible.” The result clearly shows that a new set of tactics are required. We didn’t seem to have a clue in the last 1/3 of the field and although I believe we’ll still make the play-offs I don’t think we’ll be good enough to reach Wembley.