Swindon Town added 3 more points to their overall tally in their chase for a Play Off spot and kept the dream of promotion to the Championship alive writes STFC007.
The game started off in a blistering pace with the Town players full of passion and determination, passing the ball well and putting Crewe under constant pressure. The game was a joy to watch, especially the first half.
Town were due this performance, not only for the fans but also for the players themselves. The football on display during successive away defeats against Doncaster, MK Dons and Sheffield United was in sharp contrast to earlier in the season, when Town swept aside teams with ease.
The disappointment of dropping so many points at home recently – with only Bury holding a worse six games home form record – and not picking up many points away either, saw Town drop from Top of the League to the last Play-Off position in less than two months. The lack of points together with poor recent performances triggered a human reaction – the need to apportion blame.
As our chances of automatic promotion disappeared, fans started questioning MacDonald’s perceived lack of passion, the formation (4-5-1 vs. 4-4-2), his tactics, timing of substitutions and even some fans felt compelled to directly confront players via social media; it all became a bit silly.
Today’s performance had character, passion and self belief; key ingredients that were missing from those recent disappointing games. The home crowd were behind the team the entire match, applauding every effort even if the final ball lacked accuracy.
Swindon were pressing high up the pitch hunting in packs leaving Crewe very little time on the ball and forcing mistakes. Swindon’s opener came early on. McCormack’s free kick, after Williams was pushed in the back, was headed back across goal by Flint at the back post and helped into the back of the net by Adam Rooney.
It was a perfect start to steady the nerves.
There was a minute’s applause on 9 minutes in support of Andy Rowland, the former Swindon Town prolific goal scorer, who fell ill recently. The 77 Crewe fans who made the trip to the County Ground all joined in. Thank you.
Crewe did have chances but it was our opponents turn this time to be out of luck. There was some excellent last-ditch defending with some great tackles from both Flint and Byrne which made sure Town did not concede.
The defining moment in the match came on 17 minutes when Williams headed a ball off the line after a collision between Flint and Foderingham from a Crewe corner. Instead of an equaliser, we scored at the other end to make it 2-0. Ferry closed a Crewe defender down and from the poor clearance, it was McCormack who again whipped in a high curling cross, this time from the right, which was volleyed by Roberts back into the path of Luongo whose diving header was well out of reach of the Crewe goalkeeper Martin.
All outfield players got together to celebrate the goal which shows of the togetherness in the side. There was no letting up though, the chasing and closing down continued, orchestrated by Alan McCormack. At some stage he sprinted 50 yards to close down a ball near the touchline with a well timed tackle. No lack of effort from any of the players, everyone played his part; even Williams who sometimes can give up the chase a bit too easily if the ball is not within easy reach, chased down players each and every time.
It was 3-0 not long after. The impressive Luongo delivered a corner at the near post and Rooney’s glancing header found the back of the net at the far post. An impressive display overall with our midfield combining very well supported offensively by both Byrne and Devera on either flank.
Crewe had two great chances just before half time. A long throw in wasn’t dealt with properly by Ward who headed the ball back into the melee of players and Moore’s shot hit the crossbar. It was another poor headed clearance from Ward which gave Crewe’s Elliot a chance but his volley went well over.
The referee received applause for the way he dealt with a foul from Luongo just before the break. Rather than showing him a yellow card, which would have been fair, he had a chat instead – which was a sensible decision at the time.
In the second half, Roberts should have been on the score-sheet twice. He had the ball in the back of the net from a Rooney cross but was adjudged to have controlled the ball with his hand. The second chance came from a Ferry cross on the right, but instead of passing it in the net, he miscontrolled it and walked it past the post. It was good we were 3-0 up by then.
Ferry – who seemingly was carrying an injury – made way for Collins, with Williams dropping into midfield. This change had an impact on the balance in midfield allowing Crewe more time on the ball and execute some effective counter attacks, but luckily their lack of finishing .
Crewe scored their only goal from the penalty spot in the 70th minute via one such counter attack. Town’s midfield were caught out of position and the ball was allowed to end up in the space between Flint and Foderingham. Flint was unable to make up the ground between himself and the attacker. After an initial hesitation, Wes decided to come out but never got near the ball and instead clipped the Crewe player. A yellow card and a penalty straight through the middle made it 3-1.
Collins’ interception of some poor defending put him one on one with the Crewe goalkeeper. James kept his cool and placed the ball in the right hand side of the goal making it 4-1 on 71 minutes.
Crewe could have pulled back another following an off-side which wasn’t given, but Wes Foderingham made sure Crewe only scored the one. The game was over by now and late on in the game Mark Francis made his home debut in place of Andy Williams followed by a Rooney swap with Luke coming on for Adam.
It was a great team display with everyone willing to play for each other. Adam Rooney with his 2 goals was voted Man of the Match by the match sponsors. Deservedly so as he worked ever so hard and was on the score sheets twice.
My Man of the Match was Massimo Luongo. His contribution in midfield today was selfless. It was a pleasure to watch him link up with Ferry and he did not forget his defensive duties either. His excellent technique and vision allows him that little extra time being able to make things happen as a result.
For now, Town have answered their critics; not just by the getting the 3 points, but in the way they go them. Three more point from the last 2 League games will secure a Play Off place. I don’t really want to look beyond that, but if the improved performance can be sustained, who knows…….
Next Stop: Stevenage this Saturday at the County Ground for the all important 3 points.