Cardiff City res 1 - 0 Swansea City res

Last updated : 31 January 2007 By Paul Evans
I must admit that if anything interesting had happened in the first couple of minutes (it didn't by the way!) of today's reserve match against the jacks at Leckwith Stadium, I probably would have missed it because I was taking in the Swansea line up that our second string was facing. First of all it featured a couple of City players (Mark Howard and Scott McCoubrey) and, secondly, they had a smattering of first team players with Kevin Austin, Kris O'Leary and new signing Pawel Abbott all in the starting line up.

By contrast, the City had the usual very inexperienced side out - apart from new keeper David Forde, it was virtually all teenagers with only Joe Jacobson, who only broke into the reserve team around two years ago, being over 19 amongst the outfield players.

Mind you, the differenece in experience levels between the two sides counted for nothing as City adapted to the usual bumpy Leckwith pitch far better than their opponents to give as convincing a performance as I have seen from our reserves this season.

That the game only finished 1-0 was down to a large extent to Mark Howard who played better in a Swansea shirt than I ever saw him play in a City one! Howard made three or four good saves in the second half as City, playing uphill, enjoyed almost total territorial dominance.

I had gone along hoping to see something of Jason Byrne and, possibly, Iwan Redan but the only new players to feature were Forde and Jamie Simmonds. Forde was the first of the two to impress as he made a good save to deny an offside looking Abbott in a one on one, but, that was as close as Swansea came in the match and our new keeper was hardly called upon to make a save after that.

On the day it was Simmonds who caught the eye more though as, recovering from a poorish start, he showed vision and commitment in giving a good all round display that featured a booking and a shot which brought a decent save from Howard in the second half. Simmonds' biggest impact on the game however came around the twenty minute mark when a lovely bit of skill out on the left wing enabled him to beat an opponent and then roll an inviting ball across for centre forward Mark Jones to score easilly from about six yards out.

City's team also featured the two first team players Chris Gunter and Darcy Blake who both, to be frank, looked too good for this level. A word too for goalscorer Jones who I must say impressed me more today than he has done when I have seen him play at Under 18 level this season - Jones did well in the air, looked sharp and clever throughout and forced Howard into his two best saves in the second half.

All of the City youngsters did well to varying degrees today but it was "veteran" Joe Jacobson who stood out most for me as, in the first half especially, he gave an excellent display. Just as he did when playing with Gareth Bale for Wales Under 21s against Turkey earlier this season, Jacobson often switched between left back and left midfield with the impressive Matt Smith today and I thought he looked equally at home in either position - on this evidence, his spell at Accrington Stanley has done him a lot of good.

This was the first home, open to the public, reserve match for nearly three months and I was not surprised in the slightest to find Leckwith Stadium to be the same bobbly pitched, windy, cold and joyless stadium that it has been for every reserve game I have seen there. However, for those of us who have endured games at Leckwith for what seems an eternity, the finishing line is surely in sight - by my reckoning, we have a maximum of five more games to suffer through and then we will be free from the torment for ever!