Welcome to the new Independent website. We hope you enjoy it and we value your feedback. Please contact us here.


Football: McFarlane samples glory and ignominy: Barclays League promotion play-offs, semi-finals

Swansea City. . . . . . .2

West Bromwich Albion. . .1

ANDY McFARLANE'S seventh goal of the season pointed Swansea in the direction of Wembley, but his eighth ensured that the second leg of this Second Division play-off semi-final on Wednesday would be a real dogfight.

The rangy striker ended nearly four hours of goalless action by the Welshmen against Ossie Ardiles' side with a well-taken effort five minutes into the second half, but then conceded an own goal 20 minutes later.

Mark Harris and Keith Walker were at the heart of the defensive action, restricting Albion's leading scorer, Bob Taylor, to only one meaningful chance, and the goalkeeper Roger Freestone was equal to everything that was asked of him.

So good was the work of both Freestone and Tony Lange in the Albion goal that a first half full of commitment ended 0-0. Lange twice denied Russell Coughlin and also McFarlane in the opening period.

But he could do nothing five minutes into the second half when Des Lyttle headed the ball back into the Albion area and McFarlane, despite the shirt-pulling of Paul Raven, kept cool and hammered the ball home.

That was the confidence boost Swansea needed and they went further ahead after 64 minutes. Tony Cullen swept the ball deep towards the left wing and the sprightly

Andrew Legg did well to hold off Raven and control the ball at pace. Having done the hard part of the job he headed towards the byline and picked out Martin Hayes on the edge of the six-yard box to side foot the ball home for a second, and thoroughly deserved, goal.

It looked as though the fight had gone out of Albion, and Swansea were all set to become the first Welsh club to play at Wembley since Cardiff City won the FA Cup in 1927, but then came that second McFarlane goal.

It came out of the blue after Bernard McNally had sent over a cross from the right wing which Freestone and his defenders failed to deal with.

Darryl Burgess got a foot to the ball and lobbed it towards goal, and McFarlane chased after it. It looked as though it would go over the bar, but instead it hit the bar, came down on to McFarlane's chest and went in to the goal to give Albion everything to play for on Wednesday night.

Swansea City: Freestone; Lyttle, Jenkins, Walker, Harris, Hayes, Cullen (West, 83), Coughlin, West, Cornforth (Ford, 75), Legg.

West Bromwich Albion: Lange; McNally, Lilwall, Bradley, Raven, Burgess, Hunt (Heggs, 86), Hamilton, Taylor, Mellon (Reid, 67), Donovan.

Referee: P Durkin (Portland).