Swansea City faw final

14th May 2001: F.A.W. Premier Cup Final

Swansea City 0   Wrexham 2
    (Trundle 49, McGregor 58)

Nice and Easy Does It!

Wrexham affirmed their domination of Welsh football in general and the Premier Cup in particular with their third victory in the tournament’s four year history, triumphing comfortably at the Vetch Field. Appropriately, victory came through headed goals from Lee Trundle, whose impact has been huge since his arrival in February, and Player of the Year Mark McGregor, in the second half of a one-sided match whose die was cast as early as the eighth minute, when Giovanni Savarese was sent off for an act of extreme violence and stupidity.

Brian Flynn opted for Carlos Edwards ahead of Robin Gibson and Kevin Russell rather than Craig Faulconbridge, and the decision to eschew the more physical route looked like it could backfire in the opening stages on an appalling pitch which made passing a lottery. Despite a lightning start, with Brian Carey unlucky to be penalised for a push as he headed a Ferguson corner into the goalmouth, Swansea held Wrexham at bay in the opening stages. Savarese’s moment of madness ended Swansea’s attacking threat before it had begun, though; as a long ball down the left headed for him he swung a vicious arm at Mark McGregor’s head, leaving Brian Lawlor with no option but to dismiss him and any forward ambition the Swans might have held.

To the delight of the small but rabid crowd, Swansea responded well to the sending off, holding their own for a spell as Wrexham continued to look tentative on the "pitch" and Lawlor seemed to over-compensate for his early, if hardly contentious, decision. Russell’s flick sent Trundle clear on goal, but he was mistakenly called offside, and within a minute Lee Roche’s headlong charge was halted by a crude hack on the edge of the box which was not punished. The worst decision in City’s favour, however, came when a McGregor shot hit Trundle, who turned swiftly onto the ball to find himself clear on Freestone, only to be halted by a tug on his shirt by Chris Todd which pulled the collar of his shirt over his shoulder and sent him tumbling to the ground, but escaped the notice of the referee.

By now Wrexham had found their feet, though, and were monopolising possession. Trundle’s strength and skill tormented the home side’s massed, deep defence. A neat cushioned volley from the left by Thomas picked him out and, in a style schoolboy exponents of "headers and volleys" would disapprove of, he flicked the ball up for a sublime self-made volley which went narrowly wide from the edge of the box. Within a minute he was marauding again, just beaten to a Russell flick by Freestone outside the box, and the goalkeeper denied him once more soon afterwards when a fine move culminated in Phil Hardy working a neat triangle and feeding the ball to Trundle, who turned to free himself of the last defender and drilled in a shot from the left side of the box which was parried behind for a corner.

Freestone was forced into another good stop when Ferguson worked a 1-2 with Russell and drilled in a twenty yard drive which was parried low to the keeper’s left, but his best save came when Trundle turned and whipped in a fine far post cross to Russell, whose header was well parried, and when Edwards pulled the ball back into the box it was sliced narrowly wide from ten yards out by – wait for it! – Phil Hardy! A minute later came the best chance of the half, when an Edwards cross was blocked to Russell, who made a terrible hash of a free shot from ten yards out, Trundle almost turning the wayward effort into an assist as he flung himself at it and nearly made enough contact to deflect it into the gaping net. Frustration grew as the half wore on without a goal, and Wrexham’s lop-sided reliance on the right wing failed to provide enough threatening crosses.

Wrexham started the second half with purpose, and any worries that they would fail to turn their domination into goals were soon allayed. Roche, playing his last game before returning to Old Trafford, surged down the right again and spread the ball out to Edwards, who whipped in a fine far post cross which Trundle headed empahtically home from six yards. Swansea appealed for a push on O’Leary by the goalscorer, but in truth the centre back woukd have been well advised to show some grit and battle Trundle for the cross rather than take the easy way out and play for a free kick under his own bar.

Trundle went close minutes later when Ferguson drove forward and fed the striker, whose delicate chip floated over Freestone from a tight angle but didn’t quite come down in time. Swansea responded with their only effort of note, Todd rising to head a free kick over from six yards, but they were to muster nothing more to threaten Kevin Dearden’s clean sheet on his hundredth Wrexham appearance, and soon afterwards a fine goal meant the contest was over; Ferguson was tripped thirty yards out and whipped in a tremendous free kick to the penalty spot, where McGregor‘s late run was as well timed as the powerful header which looped into the top left corner.

Within a minute Trundle should have made it three when he latched onto a loose ball in the box and shot against a defender with his weaker foot, Russell’s drive from the rebound being blocked by Freestone’s feet. From then on the game wound down, with Swansea never threatening as the back four all enjoyed fine games and Danny Williams continued to excel in front of them. Craig Faulconbridge came on with twenty five minutes to snatch the two goals which would earn him half the £10,000 top scorer prize won by Andy Morrell last season, and he went close when Trundle ended some typical manipulation of the ball by rolling it through to his new partner, who shot just wide on ther turn; Faulconbridge had to settle for being second top scorer in the competition for the second year in a row.

The game wound down to a low profile conclusion as Wrexham basked in their control of the match. Swansea seethed indignantly as the final whistle went, John Hollins making an undignified attack on every goal Wrexham have scored past his team this season (!) and pillorying the referee, who in all honesty could have been a lot harsher on Swansea, considering an elbow in Carey’s face by Vershave, Todd’s professional foul in the box on Trundle and an unpleasant late foul on Trundle by O’Leary which seemed entende to remove him from the game. Swansea’s fans hardly covered themselves with glory, booing Wrexham ass they received the tyrophy, in contrast to Barry Town’s reception when the won the cup at the Racecourse two years ago, rushing aggressively onto the pitch as the referee was awarded his medal, and manhandling Mark McGregor as he was interviewed after the game. Whether the Welsh media will want to attack the club in the manner Wrexham suffered after the Millwall game is an interesting question, but the incidents merely accenuated the fact that, in eery respect, the Robins ended their season having the last laugh.

SWANSEA CITY (3-5-2): Freestone; Bound, Todd, O’Leary (Draper 73); Keegan, Cusack (c), Romo (Price 54), Coates, Howard (De Vulgt 46); Savarese, Verschave.

WREXHAM (4-3-3): Dearden; Roche, Carey (c), McGregor, Hardy; D. Williams, Thomas, Ferguson; Edwards (Gibson 82), Trundle, Russell (Faulconbridge 65). UNUSED SUBS: Rogers, Lawrence, Morrell.

Referee: Brian Lawlor (Holyhead)

Swansea City   Wrexham
O’Leary (foul on Trundle, 45)   Ferguson (foul on Verschave, 22)
    Carey (foul on Keegan, 77)
Sending off:    
Savarese (elbowed McGregor, 8)    

Attendance: 2,600

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