Three is the magic number for Swindon Town as three goals, three different scorers, a third clean sheet of the season and importantly three points came courtesy of a ‘close to perfect’ performance, writes Ron Smith.
Di Canio made three changes from the stalemate at Hartlepool. An injury prevented Troy Archibald-Henville from making the XI giving Flint a return. Alan Navarro took a place on the bench to be replaced by Simon Ferry. James Collins lined upfront with Andy Williams, taking Benson’s place.
It was welcome to watch Town attack from the whistle, gaining control which we never looked in danger of losing as the match progressed. The opening 10 to 15 minutes was spent in and around the Crawley box, providing opportunities for early strikes from Miller and Collins. This period also allowed both Matt Ritchie and Raffa De Vita space and time on the wings, who quickly found their aim and length to devastating effect.
Town should have taken an 11th minutes lead. Joe Devera was standing alone at the far post at a De Vita corner, only to head unchallenged the ball downward to see the bounce take it sailing over the bar.
With Crawley restricted to aiming for the advertising boards at the back of the Stratton Bank it was vital for Town to seize upon their obvious dominance in all areas. Perhaps Matt Ritchie’s cross finding the back of Jones’ net was a tad fortunate, but of course, you take anything, despite how ‘lucky’ some claim it to be. It certainly wasn’t the first time a unsuspecting, drifting and looping cross had caught a keeper off guard and found the net, ask Paul Bodin who scored with a cross against Woking in 1996. A few minutes later James Collins nearly replicated the goal from the left side, however this time his cross just grazed the bar.
Foderingham was nearly first called into action midway through the first half, a loose ball slipped past several Town defenders to find Nicky Adams whose low strike trickled past the post. The Red Devil’s only other opportunity came courtesy of Town losing possession in midfield and Billy Clarke was allowed to run unchallenged meaning Foderingham’s save preserved the lead.
As the half wound down Miller proved himself to be dangerous from 11 yards. A homecoming penalty miss clearly wasn’t on his mind as the midfielder reacted quickest to a deflected ball outwards following a Devera far post header. A sweet shot and no better reward for the first half efforts and what was becoming a complete performance for the team.
After cementing a lead, the second half really struggled to get going. The onus was on Crawley to come out of the proverbial blocks quickest, but they were never in any real danger of threatening Town’s staggering defensive record as hosts in 2012, now standing at 17 games, 15 clean sheets and 2 goals conceded.
It wasn’t until the 60th minute when Ferry caught a loose ball and his dangerous cross went past an outstretched Williams that we sniffed a third. It did arrive seconds later when Swindon regained possession and another cross from the right found the Crawley defence wanting, leaving the unmarked De Vita on the left with the easiest chance to fire home.
A fourth nearly arrived after an Andy Williams run from midfield and a thunderous shot was tipped over. Then, Aden Flint was judged offside after finding the net – I would comment but I was typing some notes…
Crawley rarely threatened. A rasping long range strike from Adams nearly caught Wes off guard, but in the end Foderingham easily took the ball with both hands. You have to ask yourself how poor were Scunthorpe United – defeated 3-0 at Broadfield at the weekend – to fall foul of this Crawley side.
For once Swindon versus Crawley wasn’t focused at the obnoxious Steve Evans in the dugout. However some things never change as 3-0 scoreline in the Football League remained the same. Although it seems Crawley have found a new way to piss off opposition fans; their incessant drumming not so much in your face as Evans, but a constant reminder of their presence – albeit only 3 or 4 made the trip.
The opening two games as hosts have yielded impressive 3-0 victories and no goals conceded this season – the only side in League One still with a zero in the against column. I would love to tell you the last time that happened for us at the start of a campaign however I haven’t the time to delve into the statistics at swindon-town-fc.co.uk. Importantly the 3-0 victories continues ‘fortress County Ground’, a vital factor should Town have any chance of pushing for a top six finish.
Sterner tests are set to arrive with the visit of MK Dons and trips to Stoke City, Preston and O*ford, however all Town can do now is win when we should and keep searching for that ‘perfect performance’ Di Canio craves.