Febian such a flippin’ good fellow
Feb 3 2008 Wales On Sunday
SO much for the dreaded manager-of-the-month curse.
If Swansea boss Roberto Martinez believes the award may have already denied his side this season, super-sub Febian Brandy ended any such thoughts of history repeating itself.
The on-loan striker popped up with the 85th minute winner to inch Swansea closer to the Championship – and give his parent club the perfect birthday present the day before his 19th birthday.
After the Swans had twice somehow dropped points following Martinez’s previous monthly managerial gongs, Brandy netted just 45 seconds after leaping off the bench to ensure it wouldn’t be third time unlucky yesterday.
It was harsh on an organised Oldham side who had done enough to take a point, but Martinez’s men won’t give a jot this morning as they maintained their 10-point lead at the top.
Oldham’s away form, with nine games unbeaten on the road prior to their visit to the Liberty Stadium, suggested this would be no easy task. And so it proved as runaway leaders Swansea huffed and puffed and struggled to break down a resolute Latics outfit.
After Garry McDonald had diverted Jason Scotland’s low cross into his own net to break the visitors’ resistance, Craig Davies levelled up matters from the spot.
But just as the game was heading for a draw, Manchester United striker Brandy popped up with the vital winner as Swansea’s march to promotion continued.
On a freezing day, Swansea were second best for long periods and Lewis Alessandra’s 25-yard shot, which flew inches past Dorus De Vries’ near post, set the tone as the visitors began the game in bright fashion.
The Swans struggled to find any rhythm on a bobbly pitch. Passes went astray and shots were blocked as the runaway leaders searched for inspiration.
It was an uncharacteristic, sloppy and lethargic first-half showing as Swansea lacked energy in their play.
In fact, it took until the 38th minute until the Oldham defence was troubled. A drab first half saw Andy Robinson and Leon Britton drill crosses dangerously across the Oldham six-yard box. But that’s the best they could muster as Swansea never got going.
The Swans seemed to be missing the pace of Paul Anderson as they struggled to break down a resolute Oldham defence.
And with recalled Wales striker Davies giving Marcos Painter a tough time down the right flank, Swansea could never rest easy at the back.
The second half began in similar fashion to how the first ended, with a scrappy and disjointed match seeing little goalmouth action of note.
Roberto Martinez threw on striker Guillem Bauza in a bid to spice up his attack, but it was Oldham who came closest to scoring after 58 minutes.
A spell of pressure from the visitors saw the ball fall kindly to McDonald, only for Dennis Lawrence bravely to put his body on the line and block the shot.
The incident seemed to liven the crowd up in freezing conditions, as Scotland saw a rare sight of goal sniffed out by the alert goalkeeping of Crossley.
The veteran Welsh international should have been further troubled in the 65th minute when Ferrie Bodde broke from midfield, but the Dutchman could only fire woefully wide when well placed.
But it wasn’t long before the Swans, who were finally finding their feet, took the lead through McDonald’s own-goal.
Scotland’s run and cross saw the midfielder slide in to clear but could only divert the ball into the empty net.
It was the slice of luck Swansea needed and forced Oldham to come out in search of a leveller.
But it only provided space for Swansea to exploit, with Andy Robinson’s darting run and shot stretching Crossley.
Oldham still looked dangerous on the attack and a mix-up between Angel Rangel and Garry Monk saw Davies nip in before being tripped by Bodde.
It was a reckless tackle from the full back and Swansea could have no complaints when Davies sent Dorus De Vries the wrong way from the spot.
It was a sweet moment for the ex-Wolves striker, who had been barracked by the home fans after an earlier tussle with Bodde.
Swansea threw bodies forward in search of the winner, and it duly arrived with just five minutes remaining when Brandy picked up the loose ball before drilling the ball home. It wasn’t pretty, it wasn’t always entertaining but it sure was a vital win.