It’s not easy to be pragmatic about a pre-season match but at least the optimism felt by the fans before the kick off remained largely intact following Swansea City’s 3-2 win.
The Championship club showed their recent pedigree in the top flight not so much by their football but by their predilection for Premier League style grappling and shirt pulling.
At the outset the visitors looked a class apart and took the lead with a superbly struck goal by Nathan Dyer. Their second and third goals, however, seemed disappointingly familiar as the Reds’ defence looked all at sea. It was a great shame that newly signed keeper Michael Luyambula’s first action was to pick the ball out of the net just two minutes into his debut.
Crawley battled back in a spirited second half and Joe McNerney and Filipe Morais both took their goals well. The result was of limited importance but the contributions of the players, especially the newcomers, were eagerly watched by the home supporters.
Overall the impression was good. Bez Lubala, who started the game, offered both solidity and a genuine threat going forward. Nathan Ferguson and Mason Bloomfield brought reassurance to the midfield and the attack by their very presence. Each of them carried the aura of being the main man.
I was particularly impressed by the combination of David Sesay and Reece Grego-Cox. They exuded self confidence and if the club has a better pairing to show imagination, clever one touch football and attacking threat I would like to know who they are.
It was gratifying that none of the new signings fell short whilst the fringe members of last season’s squad also did their individual causes no harm whatsoever. On top of that niggling injuries prevented likely starters Jimmy Smith and Ashley Nadesan from even taking part.
Of course it was just the opener and pre-season has a long way to go before Gabriele Cioffi has to make up his mind about team selection.
Hopes for the new campaign remain high so does that mean there were no minus points. Unsurprisingly it doesn’t. The new partnership with the Hendy Group left the spectators cold as Hendy’s back of shirt recognition left us with a squad all bearing the same name. It was hardly a clever move for the first friendly when so many newcomers were making their debut.
This lack of recognition also showed up the manager’s second half substitutions when no less than seven, including a number of unnamed trialists, were made in the final half hour. Surely it would have been better to try two different line ups for each half with anybody not featuring making a start on Friday against Brighton.