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Swansea City were just a point adrift of a play-off spot going into March and we were in the critical part of the season as we looked to push on for a top 6 finish in our first year in the second tier for 24 years.
March didn’t get off to the best of starts, with draws away at Derby County and Nottingham Forest respectively.
We struggled at Derby, Nigel Clough’s side dominated the game throughout but despite 2 goals down, we made a superb second half fight back. Angel Rangel got our first when his shot deflected off a Derby player and into the net, before Pintado netted his 6th goal of the season.
We had another tough trip a few days later as we visited the City Ground on a Saturday afternoon to face Nottingham Forest.
In a tight content, Scotland was on the mark again to give us a second half lead, but yet again we were unable to hang on for a vital 3 points as substitute Lewis McGugan headed home the equaliser.
After drawing 3 games in a row, Charlton (h), Derby (a) and Forest (a), here’s how our fans voted in a site poll:
Despite drawing the last 3, can we still make the play-offs?
Yes (62%) No (38%)
We were back at home 3 days later and we won our first game in 4, doing the double over Plymouth Argyle with another 1-0 win against the Pilgrims.
Jason Scotland scored the all-important goal from the penalty spot in front of just over 13,000 fans at the Liberty Stadium.
That was our only win in March as we struggled to continue our impressive form on the pitch. We found it difficult to break down teams and create chances, and we also began to look more vulnerable at the back, this coincided with an injury to skipper Gary Monk.
After doing the double over Plymouth, we then experienced the reverse as Neil Warnock’s Crystal Palace side arrived at the Liberty to beat us for a second time of the season.
It was a truly awful performance from the Swans and our chances of a play-off place were looking slimmer by the game.
The voting of whether the fans thought we could finish in the top 6 dropped, as expected, following the 3-1 loss against Palace. Only 55% voted we had a chance to finish in the play-offs.
It was only our second home defeat of the season but it was a big blow, our performance levels had dropped and we were struggling to pick up points. Warnock’s smile in the press conference couldn’t have been bigger though, saying how much he loved coming to Wales, visiting Morgans’ Hotel and enjoying the fish!
Next up we faced QPR at Loftus Road, managed by our current boss Paulo Sousa. We again struggled on our travels and lost our second game in succession. We found it difficult to create our own chances as QPR’s approach to the game was excellent in terms of tactics and limiting us to only a few chances on goal.
Spurs loanee Adel Taarabt was causing problems that night with his skills and trickery and Jordi Lopez also played, a player that is likely to join up with Sousa again at Swansea City.
Mikele Leigertwood’s headed goal in the first half was enough to give QPR all three points, as the Swans dropped back to 9th place.
Swansea City averaged a game every 3 days for a busy 3-week spell before we were given a well-needed break at the end of March for international matches. We ended March with a goalless draw at Sheffield Wednesday.
Best Match – Swansea 1 Plymouth 0
Month performance rating – 4/10 – 1 win and some poor performances in March.
|APRIL & MAY 2009|
After a much needed international break, Roberto Martinez’s team were refreshed and ready for the final 6 games of the season in their battle to get into the top 6.
And what a game to begin April with, the biggest game of the season in many fans’ eyes, an away trip to Cardiff City at Ninian Park.
As you can imagine, the game was electrifying from start to finish, the Swans’ travelling support packed into the Away end and made themselves heard for a truly enthralling atmopshere.
Sky Sports had it all for this game, a highly competitive Derby match, on and off the pitch, controversy in more ways than one and exciting football from start to finish.
Swansea City sent the jack army into raptures early on in the first half as Nathan Dyer linked up with Scotland before sliding in to score from close range.
It was a similar story to the home game, we went in front early on but Cardiff City ended the first 45 minutes on top as they looked to get back into the game.
Play had to be stopped towards the end of the first half as referee Mike Dean was struck by a coin that was thrown from a Cardiff City fan.
The last only lasted 9 minutes into the second half as we conceded a sloppy goal. Bothroyd crossed and Chopra was there for an easy tap in from close range.
It was game on from here but the home side looked the more likely to score as they enjoyed a good 15-minute spell, the equaliser giving them a significant boost in confidence.
While Cardiff surged forward on the attack to look for the winner but to no avail, Swansea City took their only chance late on when substitute Joe Allen made himself the hero of the day. The young midfielder picked up the ball on the edge of the area before striking it low into the bottom corner. The Swans fans went ballistic once more and whilst we thought we had beaten Cardiff City for a second time, Mike Dean gave the Bluebirds a life-line with just moments remaining. Ashley Williams was the guilty man, well had it actually have been a penalty, he would have, but still, Dean pointed to the spot and McCormack converted to deny us a famous derby win against Cardiff City.
The Swans then went on to win 3 games in a row, starting off at home by beating Norwich City 2-1 thanks to a Jason Scotland double.
We then capped off the Easter period with a convincing 3-1 away victory at Barnsley with goals from Ashley Williams, Jordi Gomez and Jason Scotland.
Next up was 2 vital games against our fellow play-off hopefuls Bristol City and Sheffield United. Garry Monk headed home from Orlandi’s corner to give us the win at home to Bristol City, but we suffered a loss at Sheffield United which ended our chances of achieving a play-off place.
It didn’t matter at this stage but we ended our Championship campaign with a disappointing 1-0 defeat to Blackpool at the Liberty Stadium. It was a poor performance from Martinez’s side, the Seasiders scored their winner following a rare error by Leon Britton.
April and May Summary:
Best Match – Cardiff City 2-2 Swansea City
|SEASON 2008/09 SUMMARY|
As voted for by Vital Swansea readers:
Best Match: Swansea 3 Wolves 1
Best Goal: Ferrie Bodde’s 40 yarder vs Preston (a)
Player of the Year: Leon Britton (36%)
Season Performance rating: 9/10
Best Month: January – 5 wins, 1 draw
Record: Matches Played – 46, 16 wins, 20 draws, 10 defeats.
Top Scorer: Jason Scotland 24 goals (6 penalties)
Goalscoring rate: 65 minutes
Goal Conceding Rate: 82 minutes