Swansea City 1 Tranmere Rovers 0 on Saturday, 6th August 2005 in Football League One
After years of talk, at last Swansea City kick off a League programme in a new stadium, and what a stadium!
Packed to the rafters on 3 sides and buzzing with excitement and anticipation well before kick off.
Despite much talk Kenny Jackett went back to the 4-4-2 system with Forbes and Goodfellow providing the width from midfield. Leon Britton was the casualty of the switch and was back on the bench. Kevin Austin was preferred to Alan Tate with Sam Ricketts at right back.
Jason McAteer passed his fitness test and started for Tranmere and Ian Hume who scored the stunning goal that helped Tranmere knock Swansea out of the FA Cup two seasons back, started on the bench.
Side- Gueret, Ricketts, Iriekpen, Monk, Austin, Forbes, O’Leary, Martinez, Goodfellow, Akinfenwa, Trundle.
Subs- Tate, Tudor-Jones, Britton, McLeod, Connor
The introduction of the teams at 2.55 bought an incredible noise and a few tears, a new era was about to begin for Swansea City Football Club.
The game unsurprisingly started at 100 mph with Akinfenwa, Goodfellow and Trundle all having shots at goal in the first 90 seconds.
However, Tranmere didn’t take long to get into their stride with Welsh International Gareth Roberts firing just wide with a terrific left foot shot.
Swans began to lose their early impetus and all too often were hitting long hopeful balls at Trunds and Akinkenwa. Tranmere for their part were playing attractive football through midfield, and had the upper hand in just about all areas.
It was against the run of play that Swans took the lead after 29 minutes. Lee Trundle received the ball to the right of goal, close to the by-line. In little space he played the ball over the head of his marker and managed to lift the ball toward goal with his right foot virtually on the by line. There looked little danger with the keeper on his line and only Adebayo Akinfenwa presenting any threat, but the ball sailed over the keeper and there was only one winner at the far post as Afinkenwa bundled the ball into the net. The goal sent 16,000 Swans fans into raptures.
Tranmere picked themselves up and were again starting to dominate and they were thrown a lifeline on 38 minutes when Sam Ricketts seemed to mistime a challenge against the awkward Calvin Zola sending the Congoan International crashing to the ground. Referee Mr Probert had no hesitation in pointing to the spot.
Jason McAteer’s penalty was well directed just inside Willy’s right hand post but the penalty lacked power and Willy did brilliantly to save the shot and also Sam’s blushes.
On the stroke of half time, just as I was saying to my wife how lucky we would be to go in 1-0 up, Mr Probert gave us the chance to go 2-0 up. Marc Goodfellow fed Lee Trundle the ball, for once on the ground, inside the penalty area. The defender seemed to no more than brush Trundle, who went down and he along with everyone else couldn’t really have expected Mr Probert’s decision.
Trunds picked himself up and hit his penalty to John Achterberg’s left. His penalty, like McAteer’s lacked power and Achterburg was able to save easily.
As the teams went off at half time Garry Monk was notably limping. He had received lengthy treatment earlier in the half to his left thigh. His injury was a major worry as Monk had marshalled the defence brilliantly in the first half.
Unsurprisingly, Alan Tate replaced Garry Monk for the start of the second half. He went right back with Sam Ricketts going left back and Kevin Austin moving to centre half.
It wasn’t long before the new back four came under pressure and Willy Gueret made a spectacular save pushing a shot from Chris Greenacre over the bar.
Tranmere were now virtually setting up camp in Swansea’s half and Swans were restricted to rare breakaways. Despite dominating the game Brian Little made a triple substitution on the hour.
The domination continued but individually every Swans player was giving 100% and there was a steely determination in every tackle.
As the game went on slowly Swans began to hold onto the ball for longer periods and the defence pushed up from playing just in front of Willy.
With just 3 minutes remaining after another period of sustained Tranmere pressure, Swans broke away and Lee Trundle was through with just one defender to beat. Trunds left his defender for dead and with everyone expecting him to roll the ball past the advancing Achterburg, he lifted his shot over the keeper but didn’t appear to put enough power into his shot. The ball came off the keeper’s body and still appeared to be heading goalward but a defender had time to retreat and clear the ball for a corner. Adrian Forbes almost scored from the corner with a powerful shot that was well saved by Achterburg.
With the game going into injury time Swans were finally able to retain the ball, and Trunds and Akinfenwa had time for a few party tricks in holding the ball near the corner flag.
The final action saw Jones replace Trundle as Swans played down the clock.
So Swans start life at a new stadium with a win. The performance from individual players could not be faulted. Every man Jack gave 100%. But Tranmere will feel aggrieved in losing a game they dominated.
Gueret 9 – Excellent display.
Ricketts 7 – One or two mistakes but looked quality.
Monk 8 – Superb first half.
Iriekpen 7 – Solid game. Some excellently timed challenges. One awful mistake second half almost cost us a goal.
Austin 7 – Started with a poor back pass, but thereafter gave nothing. A real brick wall in defence.
Forbes7 – Usual 100% effort. Does spend too long on his backside trying to trick referees.
Martinez 9 – Excellent throughout.
O’Leary 7 – Usual no nonsense performance.
Goodfellow 7 – Some lovely touches but off his best.
Trundle 7 – Like Goodie, off his best but still created a goal from nothing.
Akinfenwa 7 – Scored the goal he would have wanted on his debut through sheer power. If the ball hadn’t have ended up in the net, the defender or keeper or both would have.