Stephen Dobbie`s second half strike was enough to give Swansea City the win against Cheltenham Town at the Liberty Stadium.
Swans fans arrived in good numbers this afternoon and there was still lengthy queues at the ticket office when the match got underway at 3pm.
Brendan Rodgers got his first chance to pick a matchday squad today since becoming our new manager and he chose a familiar system, with 1 striker and 2 supporting wingers.
Dobbie was back at the Liberty Stadium for the first time in 10 months after enjoying a good loan spell with promotion-winners Blackpool last season. The Scot rounded off an impressive performance with a superb strike early on in the second half.
In defence, it was the same tried and tested back four that helped us to 25 clean sheets last season in the Championship. Monk and Williams in the middle with Tate and Rangel as full backs.
Jordi Lopez, who has hardly kicked a ball for the Swans since his move from QPR last summer, started in a defensive midfield role behind Darren Pratley and Mark Gower. Wingers David Cotterill and Nathan Dyer created problems throughout with their trickery and pace.
The Swans kicked off at a high tempo and created a number of decent chances in the opening exchanges. Cotterill, always keen to shoot from range, tried his luck from outside the box but his effort flew just over the bar.
|"Played well, created chances, and looked disciplined."|
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Lopez arrived at the club with plenty of promise following a good season at QPR in 2008/2009, but he failed to reach his potential with some poor performances in midfield. A long-term injury then ended any hope he had of playing any more first team in the second half of last season. Today, he was probably our most improved player. Whilst he didn`t do anything spectacular, he was a useful link between defence and midfield and a decent range of passes that were often accurate.
Our best spell came in the first half when we won a flurry of corners, all them causing problems for the visitor`s defence. Garry Monk went close when his header hit the bar, before another corner saw the ball fall to Dyer, but his effort also hit the woodwork.
Cheltenham`s only real chance of the whole game came near the half-hour mark, and they should have taken the lead. Alan Tate was beaten down the right flank and a cross fell to Brian Smikle, but his side-footed volley went just wide of the far post.
The Swans continued to dominate and we were playing some very neat passing football, but despite our possession we weren`t accurate enough in front of goal. We weren`t having too many problems getting into the final third, as Nathan Dyer had the opportunity to fire just wide from an acute angle down the right. We were unfortunate to be denied from the woodwork a few times in the opening 45 minutes, and you could sense a goal was going to come soon.
And it did, 7 minutes into the second half and Stephen Dobbie proved that he can be our main striker this season. Despite playing as a lone striker – a role he wasn`t keen on last season under Sousa, he showed plenty of enthusiasm and his strike on 52 minutes was something special. Gower provided the ball, and the striker turned his marker before unleashing an unstoppable shot which fired into the bottom corner.
Moments later, wingers Nathan Dyer and David Cotterill both hit the crossbar as we went close to doubling our lead.
We continued to control the remainder of the match, but our tempo dropped and we weren`t making many chances. Rodgers then used all of his substitutions in the final 15 minutes or so, as Van Der Gun, Serran, Connelly, Kuqi, Thomas, Beattie, Taylor and Cornell all had a chance to try and impress their new boss, but it was difficult with little time remaining.
Beattie had a good chance late on, as he raced forward but a Cheltenham defender made an excellent sliding challenge to deny the striker a shooting opportunity. The former West Brom frontman showed excellent pace despite his large figure.
Donnelly also went close after curling a free kick just wide of the post.
Overall, it was a good game of football to watch for the 5,239 fans. The Swans started with a high tempo, and it was good to see the urge to get forward as quickly as possible, instead of being just happy to have the ball in the middle of the field which we were last season under Paulo Sousa. We still need to improve our finishing, and to start shooting on sight more, but things are looking promising even if it was only Cheltenham Town we beat 1-0 today.