The Truth is stranger than fiction

Swansea v StokeYo, guys, welcome back to the Lib, for the show that must be seen to be believed.

Previous performances against SCFC (North) have seen us struggle up at the Brittania, but have better outcomes and better enjoyment back here in South Wales.

In a match shunted to 4.10pm on an armistice weekend, and coming off the back of that frustrating 1-1 draw at Kuban in the Europa League (about which Stokies of last year and this will speak with some passion), yesterday’s bun fight at Copperopolis was surprisingly enjoyable containing as it did many of the slants that make the Premier League the fascinating watch that it is.

From a disappointing start and a trudge off at half time that felt cathartic, City emerged renewed and laid on a second half to be proud of.

We Swans were approaching the game with a background of a bitterly frustrating Derby day loss to the Devil’s Spawn, and a demonstration of the concept “Deja Vu” mainlined into our consciousness by Thursday’s performance at Kuban in the Europa Competition.

Meanwhile the Potters were coming to terms with Asmir Begovic, their excellent keeper, confirming that as the Club’s leading joint top goalscorer subsequent to his long distance strike v Southampton last week, Mark Hughes’ revolution in transforming them from bruising punch-first merchants to subtle stick-and-twist artistes had and still has a distance to go.

The game we witnessed went at least some way to confirming all of the above, containing as it did moments of sublime brilliance and jaw -dropping inanity in equal measure.

Really, if you were taking bets on how it would turn out, cash your chips in NOW because you sure as hell didn’t get it right. The PL is often bizarre – it’s just not ALWAYS this crazy. On to the game………………..the sides lined up thus…………..

Swansea City
25 Tremmel , 22 Rangel , 33 Davies , 07 Britton , 04 Chico , 06 Williams , 15 Routledge , 20 De Guzmán (Shelvey – 71′ ) , 10 Bony , 24 Pozuelo (Cañas – 93′ ) , 14 Lamah (Dyer – 55′)
02 Amat , 03 Taylor , 08 Shelvey , 12 Dyer , 21 Cañas , 26 Alvaro , 45 Zabret

Stoke City
01 Begovic , 20 Cameron , 03 Pieters , 08 Palacios (Adam – 72′) , 17 Shawcross , 04 Huth , 19 Walters , 15 N’Zonzi , 25 Crouch , 32 Ireland (Wilson – 72′ ) , 10 Arnautovic (Etherington – 54′ )
06 Whelan , 09 Jones , 12 Wilson , 16 Adam , 24 Assaidi , 26 Etherington , 29 Sørensen

Ref: Robert Madley
Att: 19,242

The referee was Robert Madley, and some would say that he officiated to reflect his surname – I couldn’t possibly, unless some kind soul were to replace his patronym with a combination that reads Truly Deeply as replacements for Robert.

Even in the PL, it was ever thus – we DO SEEM TO GET THEM.

There are several things to say before we get into the game.

Point 1
Are you, like me, fed up of seeing fit and healthy PL footballers fall over when brushed/contacted by the opposition? (This includes ours as well as theirs), but I accept it seems to happen from ANY opposition.

Point 2
If the opposition GK’er from the first 5m onwards takes 30/40secs whilst taking a GK especially by running from the outward side to another, and each injury takes a player some 1m to 2m to get back on, why don’t referees book the first instance and put a stop to this nonsense of regular time wasting.

Point 3
Having taken the piss consistently throughout the game WHY IS IT THAT the 4/5/6 m awarded of extra time takes no account of WHO HAS WASTED IT?? IN other words, when, in the 6th minute of extra time (ALL OF WHICH HAD BEEN WASTED BY THEM) is there a separate reason why should we suffer the indignity of a wrongly awarded penalty in time which would have not been played had it been recognised that they were trying to CHEAT. Yes, CHEAT.

Now I know I’m a pain, but I have a suspicion that you’ll feel I’ve made some valid points.

Haven’t I??

If you doubt the veracity of the above I urge you to come to the Lib some time soon and have your worst fears confirmed.

The game,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,ah, the game, bloody hell.

Having suffered the nonsense of seeing a limited Stoke threaten early from our mis-performing CB’s attempts to clear some vaguely threatening balls, the ultimate insult came as early as the 8th minute.

From a Swansea FK on the right, we saw Ash Williams stumble out of a challenge and be forced off.

The subsequent Stoke free ball, channeled into Ash’s vacant position and poorly defended by JdG and a tumbling Ben Davies left Stoke free to play in Jonathan Walters, whose clip inwards left Gerhard Tremmel embarrassed by the concession of a sloppy goal. 1-0, and we groaned inwardly.

We continued to play our patient passing game, which demonstrated its lack of tempo when a simple training 1-2-3 man free routine by Stoke on attack left Stephen Ireland loose and at his leisure to clip a second beyond another exposed Tremmel. 2-0 and only 25m gone.

Mumbles and grumbles were heard from the stands, although to be fair to City they tore into Stoke to try to get something back.

It included a series of chances from the oft criticised Wilfried Bony, and whilst he failed the Loic Remy test by taking around Begovic, his glancing header from a sitting cross was perhaps more disappointing. The air was ripe with talk of cow’s arses and banjos.

The best that can be said for the side is in this period, despite beating their heads against a brick wall (which Stoke were), is that they continued to try and create, and even though they went in at HT 2-0 down, their closing efforts left we fans with a vague sense of “what if”??

Laudrup’s second half tweaks at least made us start to believe.

The immediacy of Swansea’s efforts were instantly recognisable – you’ve been there – you’re sitting on your backside sucking your mints and all of a sudden you realise the team’s effort deserves your support, so when you sit down having screamed “Cmon City” for the previous 30secs you don’t feel half so bad when those around you begin to murmur/stutter/shout agreement and the team’s play reflects it, too.

We were back in the game.

The breakthrough came when after an attack down the left, Britton hit a rebuffed volley out to de Guzman on the right, and his immediate whipped in cross was headed home by Bony from the 6 yd box. 1-2, and the crowd was now more than alive- it was buzzing.

The team confirmed it’s optimism by consistently winning the 50/50 challenges and just believing – you know what I mean – it’s that determination to try something/anything without considering risk – if we go at it the opposition will try to defend it BUT BE LIMITED.

Thus, with just 15m to go, another threatening attack saw the ball headed out to Dyer some 8yds out, and after a chest control his mis-hit volley did what many shots on target do – it nestled into the L Hand corner with everyone going central.

2-2, and even we limited West Stand semi crocks were rocking and bopping, and I swear I saw Jimmy push the man from the Mail and tell him to “write it again Buster”.

The most pleasant piece of this period was realising that the team had indeed cast off it’s limitations and were now out and out playing to BLOODY WIN.

What an absolute joy and pleasure, so when Shelvey turned their right side and cut back a superb ball, Bony’s slotting of same led to delirium all around, 3-2, wooHoo.

For those of you not able to attend games (for any reason) get this. The team (I’d suggest) know the same. Passionate support brings a passionate response.

Having got in front with a limited time to go , we probably deserve, and may sometimes, ground out a win but will definitely not lose.

You all know my feelings re the extra time awarded, so when, in the 96th Mr Truly Deeply Madly awarded an absurd penalty against a presumably straight up Wayne Routledge challenge for a hooked ball it not only enraged our players but made a confirmed sceptic (for life) of me for whether Refs of insufficent experiece/ability should ever be allowed in the PL.

Check it out FA – they ALWAYS, ALWAYS get it wrong.

I’ve told the tale previously of a friend of mine’s theory that Llanelli’s roads are a patchwork quilt of potholes and repairs because EVERY Single apprentice hole-digger in Britain is sent to Llanelli to practice mucking up their first ever digs. Similarly, ALL PL apprentice match officials are sent to the Liberty to practice screwing up football matches at Swansea City’s expense in our stadium before being released into the wider world.

I’m all talked out – after that absurd decision I’ve even sat here this evening and tried to transpose my thoughts to what have it must have been like for him – and each time, unsurprisingly, I find myself ignoring the challenge and awarding a corner kick, which can’t be taken because we’re OUT OF TIME.

Am I wrong or is Truly, Deeply, Mr Madley??

You decide, (hey Stokies, that includes you).

# Goes away to lie down in a darkened room, mumbling……..