Sidebar

19
Wed, Jun
43 New Articles

Typography
Jason Scotland (Germany 2006)JASON SCOTLAND may have spent his fair share of time in the Caribbean sun, but Swansea City’s star striker believes play-off rivals Burnley could yet be feeling the heat.
Preparing for today’s must-win clash at Barnsley, Trinidad and Tobago international Scotland is well aware the Swans’ play-off hopes are no longer in their own hands.

And, with a seven-point deficit to overturn and just four games to do it, he knows something fairly catastrophic would have to happen to the teams above them for Swansea’s Premiership dream to live on.

Mathematically Cardiff, Reading and Burnley could be caught by Roberto Martinez’s men. But realistically only the Clarets are in any real danger of letting such a strong position slip away.

Of all the teams battling for promotion, Burnley certainly have the toughest run-in. After visiting Cardiff today they host fellow high-flyers Sheffield United and Bristol City either side of a trip to Southampton.

With the exception of the Saints, who could quite feasibly have been relegated by then, none of those games represent three points in the bank.

And, bearing in mind they have an inferior goal difference to Swansea, it’s not inconceivable that the aforementioned seven-point gap may have been reduced to nothing when all is said and done on May 3.

The problem for the Swans is that such a scenario would require them winning all four of the remaining games. And, if the trip to Oakwell wasn’t hard enough, they still have Sheffield United and Bristol City to come as well.

It’s a monumental task when you put it in perspective. Combine it with the need for Burnley to have such a dramatic collapse and it’s no wonder people have written Martinez’s men off.

But, having seen glimpses of the Swans at their creative best against Norwich, Scotland hasn’t given up hope. So long as the dream of reaching Britain’s elite league is still alive, the former soldier insisted his team would fight on.

Confident Burnley would soon start to sweat if Swansea kept picking up points, the prolific frontman, whose brace made the difference against the Canaries, was quick to up the ante on his rivals.

And, while admitting it can be difficult to stay motivated when winning doesn’t change anything, he was quick to point out the Swans’ predicament does have its advantages.

“It’s tough to keep going when you still see a seven-point gap,” he said.

“But then it also means there isn’t any pressure on us.

“We don’t have anything to lose, whereas the teams above us know that, if we keep doing well, they are under pressure. We are just outside the play-offs and we won’t stop pushing.

“This game showed that we are playing without any pressure and we got the result. It’s the guys like Burnley, who know we are knocking on the door, that have the pressure.

“If we get a result and then they know they have to as well. If they don’t, they will be panicking.”

He added: “I’d be lying if we said we didn’t look at the other results when we came into the dressing room after the game.

“But it’s been like that since around the halfway point of the season.

“We know we are waiting for other teams to slip up. But we will just play our game and try to get the results.”

Martinez, delighted to see his side return to winning ways, echoed Scotland’s sentiments. But the Spaniard was quick to emphasise the importance of Swansea focusing on their own form rather than Burnley’s.

Highlighting that it doesn’t matter what the Clarets do unless his men win all four of their remaining games, Martinez didn’t enter into any mind games.

Instead he simply urged his team to concentrate on securing all 12 of the points available to them over the next three weeks.

“I still believe we can do it,” he declared. “But I don’t expect to get in the top six unless we get 74 points.

“It could come to down to goal difference, but I think we need all the points open to us.

“Burnley are the closest team to us, but you don’t target a team, you target a points tally.

“The key for us is to win our matches because in the past I’ve seen teams get just one point in the last five games.

“That could well happen and the whole thing changes. Many things could happen to the top six yet, they have games against each other so it will not be that straightforward.”

While the mountain they have to climb may be a huge one, Martinez will at least be happy his team head for Barnsley boosted by the confidence of a return to winning ways

And, as important as the three points were, it’s the nature of this victory over Norwich that will really please ‘El Gaffer.’

While Swansea’s defensive frailties reared their ugly head again, this was a game the hosts always looked likely to win.

And, while the Canaries continually threatened from set-pieces and crosses into the box, it was the Swans free-flowing attacks that stole the show.

With good chances for Garry Monk and Jordi Gomez falling by the wayside, the only surprise was that it took half-an-hour for them to open the scoring.

But it was worth the wait as, having been slipped in by the impressive Andrea Orlandi, Scotland turned his defender before unleashing an unstoppable shot from 25 yards to put Swansea in front.

The lead didn’t last long, though, as Alan Lee equalised within four minutes. The former Cardiff striker, who had already come close before Scotland’s opener, made the most of some poor defending to steer Adam Drury’s cross past a static Dorus de Vries.

Swansea weren’t to be deterred, though, and they were rewarded for a positive start to the second half when Scotland slammed home his second from the penalty spot in the 50th minute.

Some great work from man-of-the-match Joe Allen found the striker in the box and, when Norwich skipper Gary Doherty’s clumsy challenge sent him tumbling, goal No 23 for the season was inevitable.

Norwich, to their credit, pushed for an equaliser and the likes of Lee and David Mooney certainly created plenty of cause for concern.

But, with both Scotland and Gomez wasting numerous good chances between them, a third Swans goal looked the more likely – as the hosts held on for a valuable win that keeps their dream alive until tonight at least.