Football: Thomas on Mark but It's Shambles for Flynn's Men; Vetch Boss Fuming after Dramatic Defeat

Article excerpt

Byline: Ian Hunt

SCORING twice on his return to the Swansea side was exactly the kind of impression striker James Thomas was hoping to make.

It is safe to assume, however, that ending up on the losing side after witnessing an incredible piece of Vetch Field history repeat itself was not part of his dream scenario.

In another implausible 90 minutes of drama involving Brian Flynn's team, visitors Southend were reduced to eight men for the second time at this ground in five years.

Yet, unlike in September 1998, when the Swans capitalised on the Shrimpers having three men sent off to register a 3-1 win, they suffered a second home defeat at the hands of the Essex club in little more than a month.

LDV Vans Trophy victors at the Vetch in November, strugglers Southend inflicted more damage on Flynn's men to leave them in sixth and trailing Division Three leaders Oxford by nine points.

But a breathtaking finale in which Jay Smith and Mark Gower were both dismissed for two bookable offences - Dave McSweeney had been red-carded after 20 minutes for kicking out at Andy Robinson - inevitably provided the major post-match talking point.

And it didn't stop there. Southend No 2 Paul Brush was ordered from the dug-out for protesting by over-worked - and frankly over-zealous - referee George Cain and scuffled with stewards as he trudged down the touchline.

Amazingly, eight-man Southend went 3-1 up and, though Thomas then pulled one back, held on for what will go down as their win of the season so far.

All of which overshadowed an outstanding return to the side for Thomas. But it did not disguise what was a desperately disappointing Swansea performance, an afternoon in which truly atrocious defending gifted Southend three goals and the Swansea midfield went AWOL.

And Thomas, handed his first league start since August in place of the suspended Lee Trundle, conceded, 'That was nowhere near good enough if we're serious about finishing in the top six.

'We're not going to win promotion on the back of performances like that.

'On a personal level, it was obviously pleasing to get the two goals because I was desperate to make a good impression.

'Scoring twice won't do any harm to my chances of holding onto my place once Trunds is available again - I've got three goals in three League starts now and that's the kind of form I need.

'But, to be honest, it means nothing when you end up losing. I would rather have not scored and finished on the winning side. …