Well, I would love to give a report of the full game, but unfortunately, due to the nightmarish traffic in Swansea, I didn’t take my seat in the press box until 20 minutes into the game!
And I couldn’t even crib a report for the first 20 minutes off BBC Radio Wales as their live commentary of the game wasn’t happening due to technical problems.
Mind you, I could give you a detailed description of the three or four miles of the A483 and A4067 that it took one and a half hours to crawl along to the ground.
Mind you, I should feel hard done by – many of the Diamonds fans didn’t find their way onto the West Terrace until near enough half-time. Just as well that they got there – as they swelled the away support into three figures!
Anyway, I was reliably informed that it had been something like one-way traffic towards the Diamonds goal at a passionate Vetch for the first 5-10 minutes, before the game settled down somewhat. After I arrived, Diamonds had a spell where they were not exactly controlling the game, but at least seemed in no real danger.
Swansea’s attacks seemed to be breaking down most often due to their forwards’ inability to keep onside, with the vocal local fans becoming ever more frustrated at this.
However, just when the natives were beginning to get a bit restless and the Diamonds looked in least trouble, they fell behind. A slightly half-hearted challenge on Forbes by Dove near the touchline allowed the ex-Luton winger enough time to sling over a dangerous cross to the near post that Nugent never looked like wasting, heading in comfortably after 38 minutes.
Shortly afterwards, Nugent, looking suspiciously offside, got behind the Diamonds’ back four, but was pushed wide, with Billy Turley eventually making a good smothering save.
There was one more moment of danger before the break when Forbes whipped in another dangerous cross, which was cleared over his own bar by Allen, under pressure from the lurking Nugent.
So, nothing particularly special from the Diamonds, with Swansea probably deservedly one ahead at the break.
Ernie had kept faith in the team and tactics that had brought the much-needed win seven days earlier against Cheltenham. However, at half-time, he decided to introduce Andy Sambrook in the place of John Dempster in the holding midfield position. Whether Dempster had taken a knock or not was not clear, but, at times, he had struggled against Martinez and O’ Leary in the battle for central midfield supremacy.
After the break Swansea again started well, taking the game to the Diamonds. Billy Turley made decent saves from Trundle and Gurney shots, before Diamonds finally began to get some real hold of the match.
The visitors probably enjoyed their best period of the match around halfway through the second 45 minutes, with Burgess and, in particular, Bell to the fore as they gave the Diamonds the much-needed width that had been missing in the first half.
Some concerted pressure resulted in four corners in succession, the last of which provided Alex Hay with one of two good chances he had in the game -but he headed over the bar from just a few yards out, admittedly under pressure from a Swansea defender.
Shortly afterwards he had his second chance following a great Burgess free-kick from the left. However, after Allen’s fine header was saved Hay was unable to make the most of the resulting loose ball.
Diamonds continued to press and saw a Connolly cross lifted over the bar by the busy Braniff from an awkward position.
A Burge effort just over the bar and more good work in patches by Bell were perhaps the last real impetus Diamonds gave to the game until the final minute, when Braniff’s miscued shot somehow ended up as a corner.
Turley decided it was time to come up for this corner, but the ball broke, and Trundle’s effort from almost halfway only narrowly cleared the bar.
Shortly afterwards the ref blew for full-time. I suppose with a corner count of 10-7 in their favour and almost the same number of shots as their opponents over the 90 minutes, Diamonds could be considered slightly unfortunate to lose.
However, over the full game (and I have to take other people’s word for the first 20 minutes!), 1-0 to Swansea was probably just about fair. The Diamonds defence again looked pretty solid, the midfield was effective in fits and starts, but the real problem is where the goals are going to come from. Diamonds never really looked like they were going to score today.
Swansea City: Gueret; Ricketts, Gurney, Monk, Austin; Forbes (sub Britton 71), O’Leary, Martinez, Robinson (sub Maylett 84); Trundle, Nugent
Rushden and Diamonds: Turley; Connolly, Hawkins, Allen, Gulliver; Dempster (sub Sambrook 45), Dove, Bell, Burgess; Braniff, Hay
Referee: Mr Warren
Goals: Nugent 38
Diamonds Man of the Match: Billy Turley (I think we all forgot what a class keeper he really is while Jamie Ashdown was here last year)
Written by J Roberts