Football: FA Cup: Hollins draws satisfaction from job well done

CHEERFULNESS, A rare quality in football these days, keeps John Hollins going. On from a betrayal at Chelsea almost 11 years ago, on through the insult of being dumped from the Queen's Park Rangers coaching staff last season to make way for Vinnie Jones.

Things are looking up for Hollins, his educated mark on the controlled football that had Swansea thinking about a notable success in the FA Cup until Julian Dicks brought West Ham level at 1-1 with less than three minutes left at Upton Park on Saturday.

Hollins does not have to make the point that he knows what he is doing. That was evident in the success of a plan he drew up after going over reports of West Ham's recent efforts in the Premier League. Carried out with encouraging diligence it was designed to force West Ham wide in the confidence that Swansea's powerfully built centre-backs, Jason Smith and Matthew Bound, together with their tall goalkeeper, Roger Freestone, would win aerial battles.

The smile on Hollins' face was party due to the effectiveness of Swansea's policy. "It worked a treat," he said when we spoke afterwards. What pleased him most, however, was the confidence Swansea showed in construction. "I told them that playing against West Ham would be a relief from the rigours of Third Division football. That there would probably be more space, more opportunities to show their ability."

The luxury of space sometimes confounded Swansea's midfielders but they soon learned to make good use of it, which explained why West Ham were thrown off their stride much to their manager's consternation. "We never got going," Harry Redknapp complained afterwards, the look on his face indicating that some harsh words had been delivered in West Ham's dressing- room. "We've got an excellent home record,' he added, "but we always seem to make hard work of matches against teams from lower divisions."

Earlier this season West Ham were put out of the Worthington Cup by Northampton and they came desperately close to another humiliation after Smith powered in on a centre from the artful 18-year-old Stuart Roberts to put Swansea ahead in the 61st minute. Shortly afterwards, Roberts confirmed his promise with a curling shot that Shaka Hislop only just turned for a corner. "If that had gone in I would have been out on the field lifting him up," Hollins said.

By then Redknapp had begun to make changes, first bringing on the prodigy Joe Cole in place of Eyal Berkovic, who had run out of ideas, then Samassi Abou for John Hartson. It can be confidently assumed that Hartson and Ian Wright incurred most of Redknapp's displeasure. "From what I could see Harry was in two minds about which of them to bring off," Hollins said.

With less than three minutes left, Swansea paid for a rare lapse in concentration, defending too deeply when Steve Lomas's cross-field pass released Dicks into space. Going on, Dicks unleashed a low left-footed shot that flew through a crowded goalmouth and beneath Freestone's attempted save to earn West Ham an undeserved replay.

Hollins reported that his players were deeply disappointed. "They did everything that was asked of them and more," he said. "I'd said all week that they could make names for themselves and once we settled down the confidence was high."

Bound, still feeling the effects of flu, was sick in the dressing-room at half-time. "But he wouldn't hear about coming off," Hollins added. "We've got a great spirit going and tremendous support."

At the end, Hollins, waving a Welsh flag, ran to the end from where Swansea's 5,000-strong contingent had out-shouted the West Ham fans. "They were marvellous," Hollins said.

On Saturday night, at the London home he still keeps, Hollins found it difficult to sleep. "I kept going over the match, thinking about one or two things we might have done and how close we were to pulling it off," he said. "But that's behind us. On Tuesday we've got another cup-tie, Gillingham in the Auto Windscreens Shield Cup."

As for the notion that nice guys haven't got a price in football, don't you believe it.

Goals: Smith (61) 0-1; Dicks (87) 1-1.

West Ham (3-5-2): Hislop; Pearce, Ruddock, Dicks; Sinclair, Lomas, Potts, Berkovic (Cole, 65), Lazaridis (Omoyimni, 82); Wright, Hartson (Abou, 70). Substitutes not used: Breacker, Forrest (gk).

Swansea City (4-4-2): Freestone; S Jones, Smith, Bound, Howard; Roberts, Cusack, Thomas, Coates; Alsop, Watkin. Substitutes not used: Bird, J Jones, Jenkins, Price, O'Leary.

Referee: S Lodge (Barnsley).

Bookings: West Ham: Ruddock. Swansea: Cusack, Smith, Coates, Thomas.

Man of the match: Smith.

Attendance: 26,039.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Membership Sales Advisor - OTE £10,000 Uncapped - Part Time

£7500 - £10000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The fastest growing fitness chai...

Recruitment Genius: IT Support Engineer - 2nd & 3rd Line

£25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The IT Support Engineer is needed to ass...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Officer

£15000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: It's an exciting time for this ...

Recruitment Genius: Junior / Mid Software Developer

£22000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Day In a Page

Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones