Eight seasons ago, James Thomas scored a hat trick including two penalties to mark a dawning of a new era. Fast forward eight years later, Scott Sinclair scores two from the spot in a hat trick that ensures Swans enter a new chapter in their history, as their victory over Reading ensures they will play Premiership football for the first time in their history.
Rodgers went for an unchanged starting line up from the one that conquered Nottingham Forest two weeks ago. Doris started in goal with a back four of Angel Rangel, Garry Monk, Ashley Williams and Alan Tate. Leon Britton, Joe Allen and Stephen Dobbie formed the central midfield trio with Nathan Dyer and Scott Sinclair playing out wide with Fabio Borini playing as the central striker. Our subs were Yves Ma-Kalambay, Darren Pratley, Jazz Richards, Mark Gower, Albert Serran, Craig Beattie and Luke Moore.
Roared on by 40,000 passionate fans, the Swans looked to establish early momentum and rhythm. The early exchanges went Readings way as the Swans were struggling to come to terms with the occasion and the high pressing line that Reading were holding.
Half chances were being created by both sides as Borini saw a free kick in a dangerous location fly over the bar and a teasing Jimmy Kebe cross caused the Swansea defence problems. Reading also had a half chance at a penalty when the ball appeared to strike Garry Monks arm, however, it was deemed non intentional and would have been extremely harsh had it been given. The game came to life in the 21st minute when after some time of Swansea possession, Nathan Dyer was hauled down in the penalty area by Khizanishvilli, giving Phil Dowd little option but to point to the penalty spot.
Scott Sinclair was the calmest man in Wembley as he slotted the ball low in to the corner sending the goal keeper the wrong way to make it 1-0 Swans. The Swans promotion party seemed well on course when less than 2 minutes later Stephen Dobbie exposed the lack of pace possessed by Readings full backs by racing down the right hand side and a teasing cut back was too much to handle for Federici and his palm away landed nicely at the feet of Sinclair who made no mistake doubling the lead and his tally from 2 yards.
Some believed the Swans to be promoted when on the 40th minute, Dyer again exposed the pace advantage that Swansea had down the flanks and his cross was blocked by Khizanishvilli. However the clearance landed kindly at the feet of Stephen Dobbie who put the ball across the keeper and sent the Swans fans into raptures as they went 3-0 up. However, Swansea were nearly punished by half time but were lucky that Shane Long missed cued his kick and De vries needed to be alert to a Leigertwood shot as the Swans went in 3 to the good with dreams of the Premiership becoming ever nearer.
The Second half was a far tenser affair as Reading hoped to spoil the Swans promotion party and in doing so mount one of the comebacks of recent history. Within 4 minutes of the restart, Reading had clawed one back when Noel Hunt’s header hit Joe Allen and beat De Vries at his near post. The Swans nearly hit back immediately when a great long ball found Dobbie who took on 3 players and looked destined to extend the Swans lead.
However, the ball ricochet off his heel and the ball went out for a throw in with Scott Sinclair in acres of space in the box. The Jack Army feared the worst when set piece frailties were set to hit at the worse time. A MacAnuff corner found Matt Mills who’d slipped free of his marker and headed in despite the best efforts of Leon Britton on the line. The Royals behind the goal were sensing a comeback and the great escape was nearly on for them as Karacan hit the post for Reading and with an open goal beckoning, Noel Hunt hit it goal bound only to see Garry Monk heroically throw himself in the way of the shot and the ball went out to safety.
Despite Reading feeling Swansea on the ropes, it was the Swans who were to grab the game’s crucial 6th goal when Tate intercepted a pass in Midfield and an exquisite pass to Borini saw him being bundled over in the penalty area leaving Phil Dowd to give the Swans their second penalty of the afternoon. Sinclair made no mistake again and joined an elite list of players such as Sir Geoff Hurst and Garry Lineker in Wembley hat trick scorers although none of them compare to our Scott.
The final whistle sparked wild celebrations both on and off the pitch. Strangers hugged strangers, tears were shed and all of London reverberated to the sound of hymns and arias and the North Bank song.
If anyone questioned how much the game meant to the City of Swansea, all that was needed was to look at the supporters in Wembley on this historic day. All 40,000 in attendance will be telling the tale of the day they went to Wembley and saw our little team from South West Wales become one of the elite in the World. Strap yourselves in, the Jackarmy are in for one hell of a ride next season and I for one can’t wait!! WE ARE PREMIER LEAGUE SAY WE ARE PREMIER LEAGUE!!
De Vries 7 – Did everything that was asked of him. However, could have caught a couple of crosses rather than punch if I’m to be overly picky
Angel Rangel 7 – Solid Rather than spectacular. Handled MacAnuff very well
Garry Monk 8 – Did not see who let Khizanishvilli go for the second goal however his goal saving block maybe a key reason we are in the Premier league next season
Ashley Williams 8 – Simular to Monk. Was excellent at the heart of the defence. Has a huge season ahead of him next year
Alan Tate 7 – Struggled against the pace of Reading’s best player Kebe. However, set up Borini’s penalty and was excellent at covering Monk and Williams all afternoon
Joe Allen 6 – Unlucky to score an own goal but was not his greatest afternoon. Booked
Leon Britton 9 – Leon at his best in a Swans shirt, unimaginable 10 months ago. Peaked at the right time of the season. Was excellent all day yesterday chased and harried everything
Stephen Dobbie 8 – The stats will state that he has 1 goal and 1 assist however he could have done more with a chance at 3-1.
Scott Sinclair 9 – Hat trick hero. Cool calmed and collective when called upon. Tormented their fullbacks all day
Nathan Dyer 8 – A quieter game than usual from his standards, but was still excellent in attack tormented Griffin and Harte as well as setting up the Swansea 3rd and also won the 1st penalty
Fabio Borini 6- Isolated up front on his own. Needlessly booked in the first half. However, did not give up and won the crucial penalty for us to make it 4-2.
Darren Pratley 7 – Came on to assure the Swans midfield, more defensive than Dobbie and did well on the whole.
Mark Gower 6 – Fresh legs when needed. Looked up for the game but was booked for a needless foul.
Luke Moore 6 – Time wasting substitution. Not on long enough to make a lasting impact.
Brendan Rodgers – 10. I never believed 12 months ago I’d be sitting dreaming of the premier league away days but this man has managed to achieve this. He’s brought attacking play back to the Swans and built upon the foundations left by Sousa and Martinez by bringing in quality players. Deserves all the success he gets and long may he be at the Swansea helm.