OTJ column: A big test next

20th November 2018

In his eighth column of the season, former midfielder Owain Tudur Jones gives his views on all things Swansea City.

OTJ made 56 appearances for the Swans during a four-year period in which he helped the club win the League One title and the Football League Trophy.

Now, after a 13-year career which saw him play for eight clubs and earn seven Wales caps, he is working in the media as a respected pundit.

Here, he brings you his latest column.

Bolton boost

The Swans banked a first away win in a couple of months before the international break and what a key result their 1-0 success at Bolton could be.

We have seen Graham Potter’s team produce some good performances away from home without getting the points they have deserved.

Even so, the Swans were expected to get a positive result at Bolton given the hosts’ poor form, and to get the job done was a big plus.

The Swans played some good stuff at times – which we have come to expect with this team – and then dug in to secure the points.

It was pleasing to see Barrie McKay make the difference with the only goal.

It was an absolute belter of a strike, and that will be a big boost for a player who has taken a bit of time to settle following his summer move from Nottingham Forest.

Every player needs that moment when they feel like they have arrived and they belong at a new club, and the hope now is that McKay will kick on.

In a season where a lot of his team-mates have been getting plaudits, he will feel like he has joined the party.


A big test next

Momentum is probably my most-used word when it comes to Championship football.

In a division where there is not that much between the teams, the momentum and confidence that comes from a couple of good results can be vital.

There will be the odd setback – Rotherham and Ipswich spring to mind as far as the Swans are concerned this season – but it is good to face those moments of adversity because they will inevitably come and you have to know how to cope.

Norwich City, who the Swans play this weekend, are the perfect example of a team playing with momentum.

It’s taken a while for the manager, Daniel Farke, to find his feet at Carrow Road, and I know the fans were on his back at times last season.

Although the last couple of players who I played with at Norwich have recently moved on, I still know a lot of people at the club and hear a lot about what is going on there.

I watched them twice last season and on each occasion they played some good stuff without quite ticking all the boxes.

But after a slow start this year, they have really got the ball rolling.

In Jordan Rhodes and Teemu Pukki, they have added two players who give cutting edge to what was already a good team.

They are top of the league after winning their last five Championship games and this is going to be a really good test for the Swans.

The table is really starting to take shape now, and I can see Norwich staying in the top six throughout the season.

It will be interesting to see how the Swans match up against them.

Potter’s men have shown they can play teams off the park, but they are about to come up against a Norwich side who can do the same thing and probably have a bit more experience in their ranks.

Hopefully the atmosphere at the Liberty will be good – as it was for the Leeds game earlier this season – and the home fans can play a part for their team.


Welsh promise

Wales’s defeat to Denmark was a disappointment, but there are plenty of grounds for optimism at the end of this first Nations League campaign.

The Danes may be short on star names – Christian Eriksen aside – but they are a tough nut to crack.

Wales showed glimpses of what they are capable of but just could not quite turn it on in a game where the margins were very small.

If Kasper Schmeichel had not made a stunning save to repel Gareth Bale’s free-kick, for example, the outcome might have been different.

But there’s no shame in losing to Denmark and, despite the defeat, it has been a good campaign.

This Welsh squad is packed with promising young players who are only going to get better.

The likes of David Brooks and Connor Roberts already look ready for the level, and there are others who are on the up.

I expect to see a number of those younger players given an opportunity in Albania on Tuesday night.

This game is only a friendly, but there will be a time in the next qualifying campaign when Wales have to go to somewhere like Albania and get a result.

The experience gained from this game will help when that time comes, particularly for those young lads who have not been on this kind of trip before.

Hopefully Daniel James will be one of the young players who gets an opportunity against the Albanians.

He has earned a chance because what he has done in a short space of time in a Swans shirt has been brilliant.

His pace makes him a threat, but the big thing is that I think he has the quality to deliver an end product.

Let’s hope he gets a chance to show that in Welsh colours, because I can see him thriving.


Credit to Connah’s Quay

Connah’s Quay Nomads are through to the semi-finals of the Irn-Bru Scottish Challenge Cup after beating Queen’s Park at Hampden over the weekend.

That’s a big result for Connah’s Quay and means their impressive season continues.

They are only the second Welsh side after The New Saints to make it to the last four in the competition and they deserve a lot of credit.

They are also fighting it out with TNS in the league this season, so there is plenty to enjoy.

In the past we have seen the Welsh Premier League being practically over by Christmas, but that is certainly not the case this year.

It’s an exciting time.


Listen to OTJ’s regular podcast - The Longman's Football World Podcast – on iTunes, PodBean and all good podcast apps.
You can also follow OTJ on Instagram and Twitter.

You can watch Wales's game against Albania on S4C on Tuesday night, with coverage starting at 6.35pm.


Buddugoliaeth wych dros Bolton

Fe gafodd y Swans eu buddugoliaeth oddi cartref cyntaf ers amser maith cyn y cyfnod rhyngwladol yma, wrth ennill 1-0 yn Bolton, ac am ganlyniad pwysig gall hwnnw fod.

Ar adegau, tydi tîm Graham Potter heb gael y canlyniadau mae eu perfformiadau oddi cartref wedi haeddu. Felly mi roedd o’n foddhaol iawn i weld nhw’n cipio’r tri phwynt yn Bolton.


Ar adegau, fe chwaraeon nhw bêl-droed deniadol iawn, ond hefyd, fe ddangoswyd eu hochr benderfynol i sicrhau’r fuddugoliaeth.


Roedd o’n wych i weld Barrie McKay yn sgorio’r gôl hollbwysig.

Roedd o’n dipyn o ergyd ganddo chwarae teg, ac mi fydd y gôl yn hwb anferth i chwaraewr sydd heb ganfod ei hyder ers symud o Nottingham Forest dros yr haf.

Mae pob chwaraewr angen moment sy’n gwneud iddyn nhw deimlo’n rhan o’r clwb newydd, a’r gobaith yw mai dyna oedd y foment i McKay.

Prawf mawr nesaf

Pan mae’n dod i’r Bencampwriaeth, y gair dwi’n gor-ddefnyddio fwyaf ydi momentwm.

Mewn adran lle nad oes llawer o wahaniaeth rhwng y timoedd, mae momentwm a hyder yn allweddol.

Mi fydd na ambell i golled - mae’r canlyniadau yn erbyn Rotherham ac Ipswich yn dod i’r meddwl - ond mae’n iach i garfan wynebu cyfnodau anodd a dod drwyddyn nhw gyda’i gilydd.

Mae Norwich City yn enghraifft dda o dîm sydd yn mwynhau momentwm. Tymor diwethaf, daeth y rheolwr
newydd, Daniel Farke, dan dipyn o feirniadaeth gan gefnogwyr.

Ond ar ôl dechrau digon araf, maen nhw bellach wedi ennill momentwm sylweddol, a gyda Jordan Rhodes a
Teemu Pukki, maen nhw wedi ychwanegu goliau i’r tîm.

Maen nhw ar frig y tabl wedi iddyn nhw ennill eu pum gêm ddiwethaf ac mae hon am fod yn brawf a hanner i’r Elyrch. Mae’r tabl yn dechrau cymryd siâp ac mi allai weld Norwich yn aros yn y chwech uchaf. Mi fydd hi’n ddiddorol gweld sydd fydd Abertawe’n cymharu.

Mae tîm Potter wedi dangos eu bod yn gallu chwarae pêl-droed gwych ond mae Norwich yn dîm sydd ag arddull debyg ac sydd efallai gyda mwy o brofiad yn y garfan.

Gobeithio bydd yr awyrgylch yn y Liberty yn dda - fel yr oedd hi yn erbyn Leeds gynharach y tymor hwn - a gobeithio fe y gall y cefnogwyr adael eu stamp ar y gêm.


Cymry disglair

Roedd colled Cymru yn erbyn Denmarc yng Nghynghrair y Cenhedloedd yn siom ond mi oedd digon o resymau i aros yn bositif.

Er nad oes enwau mawr yn nhîm Denmarc - heblaw am Christian Eriksen wrth gwrs - maen nhw’n sicr yn dîm anodd i dorri i lawr.

Fe ddangosodd Cymru ambell fflach o’u potensial, ond mewn gêm dynn iawn, ddaru nhw byth canfod eu gêr ymosodol uchaf. Wedi dweud hynny, roedd arbediad Kasper Schmeichel o gic rydd Gareth Bale yn wyrthiol.


Ond does dim cywilydd wrth golli i dîm da fel Denmarc. Mae hon wedi bod yn ymgyrch dda i’r garfan, ac yn gyfle gwych i ni weld datblygiad ein sêr ifanc. Mae Dvaid Brooks a Connor Roberts yn edrych yn gyfforddus ar y lefel ryngwladol ac mae sawl un arall yn edrych yn addawol iawn hefyd.

Dw i’n disgwyl gweld sawl un o’r chwaraewyr ifanc yma’n cael cyfle yn erbyn Albania nos Fawrth. Er mai gêm gyfeillgar ydi hon, mi fydd o’n brofiad gwerthfawr i’r garfan. Un diwrnod, fydd rhaid iddyn nhw deithio i rywle fel Albania mewn ymgyrch ragbrofol ac ennill.

Gobeithio cawn ni weld Daniel James yn cael ei gyfle yno. Mae o wedi cael tymor gwych i’r Elyrch hyd yma ac yn llawn haeddu ei le yn y garfan. Mae ei gyflymdra yn fygythiad mawr i dimoedd, ond y peth pwysicaf mae o wedi dangos yw bod ganddo’r gallu i greu rhywbeth ar y diwedd - end product fel maen nhw’n ei ddweud.

Os caiff o’r cyfle yn y crys coch, fyddwn i ddim yn synnu’n ei weld o’n serennu.

Pob Clod i Gei Connah

Mae Cei Connah drwodd i’r rowndiau cynderfynol Cwpan Her Irn-Bru yr Alban, ar ôl iddyn nhw drechu Queen’s Park yn Hampden penwythnos diwethaf.

Mae hwn yn ganlyniad anferth i’r clwb ac mae eu tymor gwych nhw’n parhau i wella. Ar ôl Y seintiau Newydd, nhw yw’r ail glwb o Gymru i gyrraedd pedwar olaf y gystadleuaeth, ac mae hynny’n dipyn o gamp.

Maen nhw’n brwydro yn erbyn y Seintiau yn y gynghrair hefyd, ac mae’n wych gweld bod ‘na ras tua’r brig eleni. Dros y blynyddoedd diwethaf, mae’r ras wedi bod drosodd erbyn y Dolig, ond tydi hynny ddim yn wir y tymor hwn.

Mae’n adeg gyffrous iawn.