Swansea City's supporters might like to think of themselves as the Arsenal of League One, a passing team who entertain with a pleasing and effective style of attacking football. Like Arsène Wenger's team, however, they are starting to feel the effects of a long season. Last night's result at the Liberty Stadium left the long-time leaders with only two points from their last three home matches, although they were probably grateful for the draw after Jason Scotland's two second-half goals denied Bristol Rovers an unlikely victory.
Roberto Martinez, the Swansea manager, had promised before the game that there would be no ill-feeling between the two sides following last week's reverse fixture, which ended with the arrest of his assistant, Graeme Jones, following an incident in the tunnel involving a Rovers player, Danny Coles. There were no subsequent police charges.
Unfortunately for Martinez, Swansea's defenders took their manager's peace message too literally. After only 13 minutes Ricky Lambert, Rovers' leading scorer, bulldozed his way past the most polite of challenges from Alan Tate and Dennis Lawrence and shot into the corner of the net from 20 yards.
Within five minutes Stuart Campbell had delivered successive corners which provided free headers for Steve Elliott and Coles, who struck the woodwork, while Lambert failed to hit the target after stealing in unmarked at the far post. A second goal was inevitable and it came after 35 minutes, Craig Disley shooting calmly past Dorus de Vries after Campbell's astute through-ball.
Rovers were looking more like the team who had reached the FA Cup quarter-finals than the League One strugglers who had begun the day only six points clear of the relegation zone. As for Swansea, the match was no doubt bringing uncomfortable memories of their fixture at Northampton only nine days earlier, when they lost 4-2 after conceding three goals in the first 23 minutes.
Yet despite their defensive shortcomings, Swansea had looked good going forward, with Andy Robinson's runs down the left a constant threat. One was followed by a ferocious shot that almost knocked over Steve Phillips, the Rovers goalkeeper, while another ended with Scotland coming within inches of converting a cross.
Four minutes after the break Swansea were back in the match. Leon Britton's rasping shot was blocked, but the ball broke free to Scotland, who scored his 27th goal of the season from eight yards out.
Swansea's leading scorer wasted a fine opportunity to equalise three minutes later, dwelling too long on the ball after Daryll Duffy's clever pass, as the home side piled on the pressure.
Scotland equalised with a wonderful goal with seven minutes of the match remaining. Cutting in from the right, the striker unleashed a superb curling shot with his left foot that crept into the top corner of the net.
Swansea City (4-3-3): De Vries; Rangel, Tate, Lawrence, Austin; Britton, Bodde (Tudor-Jones, 85), Pratley (Duffy, h-t); Butler, Scotland, Robinson. Substitutes not used: Knight(gk), Bauza, Way.
Bristol Rovers (4-3-2-1): Phillips; Coles (Klein-Davies, 85), Hinton, Elliott, Lescot; Pipe, Campbell, Lines; Disley, Rigg (Haldane, 70); Lambert (Anthony, 78). Substitutes not used: Williams, Walker.
Referee: M Dean (Wirral).