Richie leads way in Well-come win

Swansea 1Rovers 2Attendance: 11,933

Monday, 3rd September 2007, 12:13 pm
Updated Monday, 3rd September 2007, 12:16 pm

RICHIE Wellens was Rovers' hero with two goals as Sean O'Driscoll's battling side deservedly grabbed a welcome League One win.

The former Manchester United midfielder cancelled out Jason Scotland's first-half opener with a superb strike in the 68th minute.

And then went one better to net the winner, his thunderbolt 30-yard volley too good for Swans' keeper Dorus de Vries with just seven minutes left.

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But the turning point of the match came when Swansea's Dutch midfielder Ferrie Bodde saw red just after the hour mark.

Bodde was dismissed for a needless headbutt on Rovers Brian Stock, the midfielder playing his first game after a hernia operation.

Reduced to 10 men, the home side found their backs against the walls – and it was Wellens, with his second and third goals of the season, who made them pay as he became Rovers leading scorer,

Although, if it had not been for a wonderful save from keeper Neil Sullivan five minutes into the second-half, there might have been no way back for O'Driscoll's side.

The former Scotland international denied Swansea full-back Kevin Austin with a fingertip save out of the top drawer. The defender's fierce drive from the left edge of the penalty area looked destined for the top right corner, but Sullivan was equal to the test.

"We've come close to getting a win this season, but we know how good we can be and sometimes it gets frustrating when you don't hit those heights," reflected a relieved O'Driscoll, who ended a three-match losing stretch.

"This win will give us a great deal of confidence, but we've just got to keep it going.

"The lads have worked really hard in pre-season and in the games, and they're just as disappointed as anybody else and frustrated we've not had the results. But they've all stuck together and everyone has played their part.

"We've got to keep this going for the rest of the season. We've not just got to have this and then slip back into old habits against Bradford (in the Johnstone's Paint Trophy) on Tuesday night."

O'Driscoll made four changes to the side which lost 2-0 away to Plymouth Argyle in the second round of the Carling Cup last Tuesday night.

Used as second-half substitutes in the Plymouth defeat, striker Mark McCammon replaced Paul Heffernan up front in the starting line-up, while midfielder Mark Wilson was given his chance in the centre of midfield ahead of Lewis Guy. Guy, Heffernan, midfielder Martin Woods and defender Sean McDaid were all dropped to the bench, with Stock and defender Gordon Greer also handed the opportunity to shine.

Midfielder James Coppinger again missed out through injury, while skipper Graeme Lee didn't feature because of his neck injury and Adam Lockwood took the captain's armband.

O'Driscoll reverted to a 3-5-2 formation to give his side more strength in midfield and width with James O'Connor and Gareth Roberts playing as wing backs.

"It made us a little bit stronger in midfield," O'Driscoll said of his change of formation. "Mark McCammon came in and gave us a bit of an aerial threat because Swansea are not the biggest side, and we got a lot of joy from him getting the ball.

"I thought we coped with them really well and tried to cause problems for their centre-backs, which was hard work, but at times we broke cleverly and opened them up.

"The longer the game went on, the better and better we got, and we got back into the game and confidence grew.

"In football confidence is the 'magic' ingredient. If you're confident you can win all day!"

Rovers could have had a penalty when centre-back Dennis Lawrence looked to have handled the ball, but Northampton referee Dean Whitestone waved away the visitors' protests.

"I've been in football long enough to realise the referee makes his decision and you live and die by it. But the players have got a lot of belief and I thought we showed it at times.

"You need a little bit of luck in this division, maybe we had it at last."

Rovers found themselves on the back foot in the first half and survived an early scare when Darren Pratley fired wide in the seventh minute.

At the other end Wilson fired a right-foot shot wide of de Vries' right-hand post, before centre-back Matthew Mills produced an excellent last-ditch tackle on Scotland who had broken free after a hopeful long-ball.

Trinidad and Tobago striker Scotland was arguably Swansea's best player and in the 28th minute dragged a shot wide of the target, before five minutes later hitting the near post with Sullivan beaten.

Roberts went close with a long-range effort and Wilson had a powerful shot charged down, before Scotland was on hand in the six-yard box to tap home Andy Robinson's whipped-in ball from the left.

Stock fired a free-kick over the bar 40 seconds after the resumption, before Sullivan denied Austin with his wonder save.

Bodde was then sent off after a heated clash with Stock and Swansea had just under half an hour to hold on to their slender lead.

Wellens found time and space in the 68th minute to beat de Vries with a rasping 25-yard drive, before winning it for Rovers with a stunning volley in a climactic end.

Manager's View

"We're obviously relieved we've got the win. We wanted a performance... and I thought we got that. We were unlucky to be 1-0 down at half-time and you think 'here we go again!' But I thought we rallied in the second half, caused them a threat and the sending-off gave us another edge. I'm very pleased because we scored two great goals, but we've got to keep it going now."