Last night Swindon had to settle for an away point in tough conditions versus Leyton Orient. Adam Johnson was at the game…
Hard graft wasn’t enough for Swindon to claim all three points in a battling 0-0 draw at The Matchroom Stadium. Town will see this as two points dropped after dominating large parts of the game in which, at times, could have been mistaken as a training match.
My motto is usually ‘I’ll take a point from this away game’ but last night it was forced upon me, rather than taken. Chances fell to James Collins who couldn’t direct a free header on target, Andy Williams whose shot hit the post and header went wide. Also, Alan McCormack’s 20 yard effort was matched by Orient keeper Jamie Jones.
Town were not at their fluid best but an acceptable excuse would be the pitch conditions. Large areas were badly cut up with the ball not moving freely and often getting stuck in the surface. Not a reason for their misfiring in the final third but definitely a factor in stopping Town hitting their tip top best.
Four changes were made to the starting line up with Flint, Roberts, Martin and the injured Hollands replaced by Devera, De Vita, Collins and Miller.
Di Canio said he wanted Town to come out of the blocks quickly and that’s what they did in similar fashion as games previously. The pitch stopped Town being at their best but they put the hosts on the backfoot from the off.
The pitch dictated that the majority of the play would be balls into the box with Ritchie and De Vita the main outlets with excellent support once again from Thompson and McCormack. Their wing play resulted in several half chances and corners but nothing of real note. Town were on top but credit to Orients defence, including former Town player Scott Cuthbert.
Orients infrequent attempts at building attacks were quickly cut out by Darren Ward and co with the only defensive issue coming with an injury to Joe Devera, the seriousness of which isn’t known. He was replaced by Aden Flint.
There wasn’t much to note in the first half but Town definitely had the better of the possession with little to show of it. This would basically sum up the entire 90 minutes.
The second half began with Orient playing at a higher tempo looking to match Town which was more effective than their first half plan.
The game was more of a battling contest with both having to fight and claw for every pass. The pitch was slowly getting worse with rain falling and wind swirling across the ground. What could have been a disastrous half of hoof ball surprisingly was not with Swindon sticking to their philosophy and we could very easily be saying how it worked if that all important goal was scored.
Town’s first clear chance came in the 57th minute off the head of James Collins who managed to get a head, but not enough, on the ball only to send it wide. The striker, who apparently has attracted interest from Wolves, beat the offside trap to be all alone in the box but wasn’t composed enough to guide the ball into the net.
Russell Slade’s side grew more into the game with number 17 Moses Odubajo being the creator behind all things Orient. No clear chances were coming but the hosts were putting their authority into the game with half chances of their own making Town work in defence.
68 minutes in and Andy Williams had the first of his chances. A ball from the hard working De Vita found Williams who turned in the area to create space for a shot across goal which rolled and slowed down in the muddy goalmouth to hit the wrong side of the post. It was a great effort from Williams as he turned nothing into something which is what Town would need to do if they wanted all three points.
The game would continue to be a battle at either end with the majority being played at the edge of each team’s final third. Orient would then be up in arms on the 70th minute as Town seemed to get a slice of luck.
The dangerous wing play of Moses Odubajo had the Town defence on the back foot which led to a mistimed place of the foot which brought down the number 17 to the floor appealing for a penalty. The shouts were waived away and led to a booking for the Orient man but the hosts on another day could easily have had a penalty for a clumsy tackle.
The game would continue to be a battle in midfield and a cross from the left led to Andy Williams having a free header in the area but he was unable to produce anything worthy to put on the scoreboard. In the dying seconds, the former Yeovil man would also have a one on one opportunity but as he prepared to shoot from a tough angle the ball seemed to stop in the mud to halt all momentum.
Then truly the best chance would be left till last but it wasn’t for Swindon. After a ball into the box wasn’t cleared by Tommy Miller, Orient’s Jimmy Smith had a chance in the area to give them the win but an excellent reaction save from Wes Foderingham kept Town from losing the game.
The full time whistle blew with mild frustration from away support as we’d gone back to the scoring days witnessed earlier in the campaign.
Town weren’t at their best and only troubled the Leyton Orient goalkeeper Jamie Jones on four occasions out of 13 attempts. The stats suggest an even game with Orient having 11 shots and 49% possession but the stats at half time and early stages of the second half would have been more in Towns favour.
The majority of Leyton Orients chances and possession came in the latter stages of the second half with Town pushing for the goal that was on offer. Orient had their main chance late on saved but otherwise the majority of the ball and decent chances fell to the away side.
Paolo Di Canio summed it up best in his post-match comments, he said: “We dominated in terms of chances, but we didn’t look like we should score, and that was disappointing.
The subs were very bad where in the last few times they have made a difference, and always I can blame them but I blame myself.’’
These comments sum up the game best as however many times Town got on the edge of the home sides area, you didn’t feel like the ball was going to end up in its desired location. As I’ve already said, credit has to go to the hosts defence but Town didn’t look capable of creating enough clear chances.
Also, the late impact subs of Martin and Roberts didn’t bring the desired effect to the Town attack and if anything halted the momentum that Town were creating.
Roberts looked like his confidence had gone with Cuthbert easily dealing with the former Huddersfield man and Martin got himself about but couldn’t influence the proceedings.
Swindon can come away from last night knowing that they should have had the three points, which in itself is a frustration but is also a more positive note than other options.
It wasn’t the ideal brand of football Di Canio wants but, if we had played like that at The County Ground, I’m sure we would be looking at three points. Tough conditions on the pitch and with the weather meant it was always likely to be 0-0 but at least Town can come out of it with more positives than the hosts.
The table still makes great reading for Swindon who are now third, six points off 1st and 2nd with a game in hand over 1st place Tranmere. If we look at it that way Town can be very happy with where they find themselves ahead of the Sky game on Saturday evening versus Crawley.