Win Some Lose Some…

Vic Morgan Blog

It’s Friday, so it must be time for the latest weekly review by BBC Devon’s Vic Morgan.

Two home matches and one win although the victory didn’t perhaps come in the most likely game.

It’s fair to say Saturday’s performance wasn’t the best. Crawley didn’t come to play attacking football that’s for sure. To be honest it was rather drab. Still, Swindon remained in the top three and even though the poor run has cost victories, it hasn’t cost too much ground.

It’s difficult to know why last weekend was so disappointing. Certainly the Town enjoyed the majority of possession but the points slipped away. It looked a likely draw after Andy Williams equaliser but the visitors late goal was worthy of winning any match. A rasping shot on the angle beating Wes Foderingham.

A miserable Saturday night then wondering if Swindon’s season may have hit a stumbling block difficult to climb over. The one positive from the weekend was the season ticket being renewed and another campaign to look forward too.

Work commitments meant I missed the midweek match against Bradford City. By all accounts the first half was back to Swindon at their most irresistible. A return to the side for Massimo Luongo saw him grab two goals and even though the Bantams pulled one back the points were secured.

Following the game there appeared to be a few questions asked about the level of support. Certainly the aforementioned Foderingham appeared on Twitter suggesting that he was a little disappointed in the backing the team received.

Maybe it’s because everybody is feeling a little tense right now. We’re entering the final few games of a campaign which has promised much and nobody wants to see that promise wasted.

It’s off to Crewe this weekend. A ground which is served by a particularly good chip shop. So no prizes for guessing where the pre match meal will come from. Gresty Road is a decent ground and of course the two towns share a railway heritage. You can’t miss that at Crewe with the stadium right next to the station.

Hopefully Swindon’s winning ways will continue and the journey back home will be better than the week before.

Keep it loud keep it proud keep it SWINDON!

Swindon Town 2-1 Bradford City: Massive victory

2015.02.24 Bradford

A Massimo Luongo inspired Swindon Town returned to winning ways with a tense 2-1 victory over promotion rivals Bradford City, achieving something that Chelsea and Sunderland haven’t been able to do in the process. Writes Daniel Hunt… 

The Swindon that we all know and love put on a marvellous first half show and the unambitious Bantams should have been three or four goals down at the break but for some profligate finishing from Andy Williams.

A sloppy start to the second half was capped off by another individual error from Captain Nathan Thompson and Bradford were handed an undeserved route back into the game. This set up a tetchy last half hour where Bradford threw everything they had at Town but the returning Raphael Rossi-Branco stood firm like a Gladiatorial warrior amidst the barrage! Swindon have closed the gap to second place MK Dons to two points but with Bristol City, Preston and Sheffield United also winning on the night, it’s clear that it’s going to be a difficult job to maintain the automatic promotion push.

Mark Cooper’s men must also be congratulated for putting up with some more bizarre League One refereeing. James Meredith stayed on the pitch before half time and ex-Town man Stephen Darby getting wrongly sent off and then reinstated in stoppage time! There was also a nerve-ridden home crowd of 6,812 who, after showing so much patience/appreciation with the style of football this year, went to pieces in the second half.

Has a recent run of four defeats in five has done away with the extra supporters gained through six months of hard work this season? What is more obvious is that the pressure of being in a promotion race is particularly taxing not only on the players but also the fan base.

My pre-match team prediction was only one player out, I would have started Jonathan Obika above Michael Smith by virtue of the ex-Tottenham man scoring twice against Bradford back in September, but the balance of the side and energy in the middle of the park seemed much more like it. Yaser Kasim and John Swift are undoubtedly fine players but their performances against Crawley were walking pace and pedestrian. Ben Gladwin’s versatility got the nod on the left hand side as Toffolo was given a place on the bench for his awful first half against Crawley Town.

As I’ve already touched on, this game was made for League One’s David Luiz impersonator, Raphael Rossi-Branco. Jon Stead was Bradford’s lone man up front in the first half, with Billy Clarke in the ‘hole’ behind him, but Stead got no change out of Rossi-Branco et al. all night. Bradford were frankly useless in the opening period and Swindon were given all the time in the world to play out from the back and mould their attacks from wide through the impressive Gladwin and the lively Byrne.

Before Massimo Luongo drilled Swindon into a 15th minute lead, Gladwin had already planted a delicious left foot cross onto the head of Williams who could only head over from 3-4 yards. I’ve not seen the chance again but my gut feeling is that it was a pretty glaring miss. The opening goal was ruthlessly put away by the ‘Aussie Beckham’ however. Collecting a Stephens pass on the right edge of the box, Luongo shifted cleverly onto his right foot before drilling low across Jordan Pickford’s goal for the lead.

Andy Williams was gift wrapped an opportunity to double Swindon’s lead as one of the Bradford defenders inexplicably let the ball run into the path of Town’s 20-goal man. With only the ‘keeper to beat from ten yards, Williams curled the ball onto the crossbar just like he did at Scunthorpe on Valentines Day.

Swindon didn’t have to wait long for the second goal though. In the 33rd minute Jordan Turnbull got up a head of steam as he surged into the Bradford half unchallenged. The on loan Southampton man then threaded a ball to Williams on the right edge of the box and were it not for a heavy touch from Williams, Luongo wouldn’t have had the simple task of toe-poking into the same corner as his first goal. An inadvertent assist would be all Williams had to show for his night’s work.

Town still had time to spurn a wonderful opportunity to put Luongo through on goal for his hat-trick. The down-on-his-luck Michael Smith trying to go on his own when he would have been much better advised to leave the goal-scoring to the rampant Luongo. The final passages of the first half were spent with the Don Rogers stand baying for Bradford left back James Meredith to get his marching orders for a second bookable offence. Nathan Byrne was smart with how theatrically he went down for a couple of the fouls but how Meredith stayed on is beyond me?

Bradford brought Pantomime villain Alan Sheehan on to replace Meredith at half time – the irony being that it had been Sheehan who did receive a red card for punching Rossi-Branco in the opposite fixture back in September, also a 2-1 win for the Reds. Swindon started the second half really poorly and the vigour with which they attacked the opening period disappeared into the Wiltshire night.

Eight minutes in to the half, a tame right wing cross was intercepted by Nathan Thompson when it seemed easier for Foderingham to clean up, but Nathan took an ill-advised touch on his right instep which allowed Clarke the simple task of smashing home to reduce the deficit. After a plethora of recent self-inflicted goals conceded, this didn’t help the nervous crowd and the neat passages of possession at the back that followed received groan and moans – to the displeasure of Wes Foderingham after the game on Twitter.

Led by the right sided partnership of Luongo and Byrne, the Swindon response to the setback was strong. Massimo was cruelly denied his first career hat-trick by an outstanding one-handed save by the pre-pubescent Jordan Pickford – let’s just say that his Mum won’t be buying him a Gillette Mach 3 for Christmas! The Byrne effort required no action from the ‘keeper as he curled over from 18-yards after a jinking run that seemed never-ending.

Despite Bradford having a lot of possession and territory in the second half, Wes Foderingham was underworked and aside from a smart tip over the bar from debutant winger Burke (on loan from Notts Forest), our Wes could stand-by and trust in his young defenders. The introduction of Francois Zoko and Mark Yeates (another former Swindon player) added some more zest to the blunt Bantams but Swindon held on nicely – particularly in stoppage time when the majority of time was spent in the corner of the Don Rogers/Town End

The second half felt so pressured more because of the what was riding on the result from the home fans. Repeating myself here, but Rossi-Branco was magnificent in this spell, heading and tackling anything that came within 5-yards of him.

Bradford manager Phil Parkinson whinged post-match about Swindon players rolling round on the floor – so what? He also whined about three penalties not getting given in his side’s favour – don’t care! Bradford were awarded a penalty incorrectly at Valley Parade so it’s swings and roundabouts. The gap between the two sides in terms of football is vast and Town should have been at least four nil up at half time.

The rot has been stopped and make no mistake, Swindon stood up to the physical test late in the second half, that’s character after a run of four defeats in five games. Whether or not character alone is enough to get you over the line in a promotion race is still up for debate. In simple terms, Town need to keep producing displays like they did in the first half here and points will look after themselves.

Crewe away in front of 3,000 will be a tough proposition, as our recent trips north to Oldham and Scunthorpe pay testament. But if Swindon can compose themselves between now and May, and the supporters can take a deep breath, we might be able to start dreaming about playing in front of 20,000 plus on away trips north to Derby, Notts Forest, Sheffield Wednesday, etc.

Stay calm and give it to Luongo….!

Complete our poll which asks why are Town fans so angry..?

Follow Daniel Hunt on Twitter – @dphunt88

Yorkshire grit

Vic Morgan Blog

It’s Friday, so it must be time for the latest blog by BBC Devon’s Vic Morgan.

Let’s be honest it was a bit of a battle, but what a battle. Swindon’s performance at Valley Parade was exceptional. Despite some, quite frankly, awful refereeing and conceding an early goal, the Town came away with three excellent points.

My reaction at the award of a penalty against Wes Foderingham at the time was of disbelief. Having seen it many times since, I remain convinced Wes won the challenge with a fair tackle. Justice was done with a superb Foderingham save. Wes went on to win man of the match in my eyes with several crucial stops and he’s on his way to becoming one of Swindon’s best ever.

Tuesday was his 150th league appearance for the Robins, let’s hope there’s many more. The early goal was unfortunate. Louis Thompson had to make a challenge in the box, sadly he diverted a cross into his own net. No blame there just bad luck.

As for Jon Obika? Well two goals on your full debut for the club is a major statement of intent. Having spent an unhappy spell on loan at Swindon a few years back, he’s obviously relishing a second chance. Jon looked keen, fit and ready to play. That’s all you can ask for and he was quite literally Johnny on the spot for his goals.

So a happy trip home to Devon and the thought of many more journeys north this season. Mind you if they’re all like that, I won’t be complaining. Fantastic game and day out. It was kind of like football ought to be.

Work prevented me attending the Oldham game, so I can’t really offer an opinion on that. Suffice it to say, four points from two games is a decent return and sets us up nicely for the visit of Sheffield United at the weekend.

A worry for the Town hierarchy must be the size of the crowds at the County Ground. I know Oldham on a Tuesday evening isn’t a great draw, and with another home game on Saturday, many may have been saving their pennies for that one.

Is it the prices of the tickets and ancillary expenses that’s keeping people way? Is it that, despite a fine young team, fans aren’t yet convinced of the chances of success? Or is it still early season malaise and people are waiting to see how their faring further on down the track? Certainly food for thought. I’m sure the club is looking at ways to boost attendances. Certainly cost is one factor they have to look at.

So to the Blades. Looking forward to it. Should be a cracker.

Keep it loud keep it proud keep it SWINDON.

My Weekend: Alan Sheehan*

Alan Sheehan 1

Following Saturday’s victory at Bradford City, we catch up with Alan Sheehan who reflects on an eventful weekend*…

Friday – I’ve fond memories of playing for this weekend’s visitors Swindon Town.  They’ve had so many world-class left-backs over the years, Yinka Casal, Jason Drysdale, David Peach, plus this son of Athlone. But not Michael Rose as he’s a real c#nt for keeping me out the team when I would’ve saved them from relegation. So being part of this illustrious group, Swindon really know what to expect from me and I’ve gotta deliver – which is exactly what I did when I scored a worldy strike from what must’ve been 45-yards for County against Town in April. It’s been a busy week, nothing else but practicing free-kick after free-kick and plenty of penalties in training. Plus for that extra fitness I’ve been down the boxing club seeing that there’s always talk around here about being bantamweight.

Saturday – Parky’s up early with some important news. He’s sent a text to everyone with a plan to get us an early advantage. Apparently whoever gets closest to their ‘keeper first needs to throw themselves to the ground, then, he emphasised “position yourself to directly face the referee while sitting and then place both arms in the air”. Why you ask? I’m on penalties duty, yes… my sweet left peg never misses.

Sunday – Our entire gameplan went perfectly until their goalkeeper saved the penalty. We’d worked really hard until that point. Clarkey said after the game it wasn’t my fault as he’d planned to get their ‘keeper sent off. Bit shocked by Nathan’s reaction after the strike as we used to be teammates, plus he knows I’m sensitive. I just want to use this opportunity to clear up the ‘incident’ with that Argentinean bloke Bucking Branco. The referee Richard Clark loves his red cards, he got what he wanted when Swindon played at Notts as he got to give two reds. Yesterday he looked really bored and to be honest I felt sorry for him. I know its wrong, he’s the referee and us players shouldn’t give a f@ck about them, but the way Clark brandishes the cards like confetti really does it for me. He’s only got eyes for the red so I just had to land the body-blow.

Monday – Parky phones “well, I had to tell everyone you’d gone over and punched him, it was unacceptable and I’ll fine you the maximum amount…” I can take the fine, I’d do it again to make Clark happy. The FA will be giving me a three game ban, so I’m off to Preston for a few days, might get a trial…

*Bullshit is according to TheWashbag, not Alan Sheehan

Bradford City 1-2 Swindon Town: The return of the Obika

2014.09.18 Bradford City - Wes Save 3

Adam Tanner headed north to Bradford to watch Swindon Town’s strong start to the season continue…

Swindon approached the game looking to uphold an impressive record at Bradford City, where we were unbeaten in our four previous visits since 1998. As expected, Nathan Thompson and Jon Obika replaced Josh Lelan and Andy Williams in what turned out to be the only two changes from the team which drew with Coventry. Mark Cooper was spared a difficult decision at centre back when recently re-signed Jack Stephens was ruled out through illness. Wizened old veteran Raphael Rossi Branco, who turned 24 in July, was the team’s oldest member.

Cooper wasn’t wrong when he suggested that Bradford would start strongly, and Town were unusually lethargic throughout the opening 15 minutes. In the second minute, Nathan Thompson conceded possession cheaply in midfield, before the recovering Jordan Turnbull underhit his backpass towards Wes Foderingham. Even so Wes certainly appeared to win the ball when challenging Bradford’s Billy Clarke with his feet, so the award of a penalty looked very harsh. When Alan Sheehan stepped up our remarkable habit of conceding to former players looked set to continue, but fortunately our ‘keeper bailed us out by diving low to his left to make a typically excellent save.

Even so, Town didn’t heed the warning, and Bradford opened the scoring within minutes. Mark Yeates was given too much time and space down the left, and his cross was bundled into his own net by Louis Thompson, whose attempts at covering were in vain.

Fortunately, the goal seemed to kick Town into gear. It was surprising to see the predominantly right footed Yaser Kasim take a left footed shot from a free kick 25 yards out, but he produced a superb curling effort, which drew a strong save. Shortly afterwards, in the 23rd minute, an impressive break involving Nathan Byrne and Massimo Luongo ended with Branco’s effort being blocked. Brad Smith whipped the resulting corner to the far post, Michael Smith’s header back across goal was strong and well-directed, and Jon Obika was ideally placed to flick a header of his own into the net from two yards.

Town continued to press, and Luongo and Kasim began to shine in central midfield. Luongo had a couple of chances, drawing a decent save from one shot and putting another narrowly wide. It’s a shame that a player of his quality has only scored once since November. Swindon did take the lead in the 43rd minute. Nathan Byrne’s corner caused every bit as much panic in the Bradford defence as Smith’s 20 minutes earlier; Branco’s flicked header wasn’t cleared, and the ball fell to Obika, who smashed it into the roof of the net from 8-yards. We have badly missed a “poacher” since Nicky Ajose returned to Peterborough last December, but early signs suggest that we’ve found a new one.

The early stages of the second half were strong, as Swindon remained in control; Louis Thompson, Obika and Branco all had chances. My only criticism would be that our occasional habit of failing to test the ‘keeper reared its head. In fact we didn’t manage an attempt on target during the half.

Town’s performance fell a few notches as of the 68th minute when Michael Smith, who gave a typically tireless and capable performance, was replaced by Andy Williams, who sadly tends to play with a different mentality. Bradford suddenly had time and space to play from the back, and Town came under some heavy pressure. The defence lost some of its composure, and a string of dangerous free kicks were awarded, with Sheehan assigned to most of them. He drew an excellent save from Foderingham with one, and put another narrowly wide. Bradford also had a goal disallowed for offside after a ball into the box hadn’t been fully cleared.

Josh Lelan replaced Brad Smith for the six added minutes, and immediately conceded possession in a dangerous area. Bradford launched a break down the right which fortunately only resulted in a corner. Moments later, from a Sheehan cross, the flying save that Foderingham made to keep out Stephen Darby’s header was superb.

The final minute of stoppage time produced drama of a much more acceptable kind, when Sheehan decided, in his eternal wisdom, that if he were to punch Branco in the chest rather than the face, the officials might not notice. He was wrong, and the inevitable red card was followed seconds later by the final whistle. Full credit to our lads for showing each of the qualities required to grind out a win from, in my opinion, our most difficult match so far.

Here are my thoughts:

  1. Away Form

We have won two and drawn one of four away games to date and, crucially, have played well in each of them. Although these are early days, genuine progress appears to have been made from last season, when we averaged less than a point per game and put in a long list of poor (or worse) performances.

In view of the forthcoming run, this is just as well. Our scheduled home match against Preston on Saturday 11th October falls during an international weekend. As both sides postponed last week’s game due to call-ups, it seems unlikely to go ahead. We therefore face at least four consecutive away fixtures after next weekend’s match at home to Sheffield United; potentially five, if we win at Newport in the JPT and travel to Plymouth in the following round.

  1. Centre Backs

While there are various reasons behind our much improved away form, I believe that the current centre back personnel are high on the list. Last season’s most regular pair, Darren Ward and Grant Hall, seldom truly seemed up for the scrap required to win at somewhere like Bradford. You may have noticed that Bradford’s imposing striker James Hanson wasn’t mentioned by my report, and this is because Branco, Turnbull and Thompson, a trio who will mix the rough with the smooth, battled and fought their way through every second of the match. Last season, we were good enough to pass a fair few teams off the pitch, especially at home, but failed to challenge for promotion because we were one-dimensional, almost snobbish in our refusal to budge from “Plan A”. Not anymore.

If, as expected, Jack Stephens is soon fit to play, it will be interesting to see whether anyone makes way for him. Personally, as highly as I rate Stephens, I would allow him to wait his turn. In practice, I suspect that Branco could be the unlucky loser (possibly due, in part, to us wanting to keep Southampton onside by selecting both loanees). If so, I would urge Cooper to reconsider. In my opinion, Branco, more than anyone, offers the aerial dominance that we have tended to lack since losing Aden Flint. He also brings an attacking threat; one goal and two assists in five games shouldn’t be sniffed at. If his contract isn’t extended without delay, we risk losing an astute signing, who we have developed significantly, for nothing next summer.

  1. Attacking Set Pieces

I would be keen to know the last time we scored from two corners in a game. County Ground traditionalists will be delighted to hear that both deliveries were whipped directly into the box; in fact, I don’t think any of our eight corners were taken short. Presumably this was a conscious tactic (Bradford fans warned us in the pub beforehand that they keep conceding from set pieces), and it will be interesting to see whether it is repeated.

We’ll find out on Tuesday…

Eggstraordinary Easter….

Vic Morgan Blog

It’s Friday, so it must be time for the latest blog by BBC Devon’s Vic Morgan.

Two wins out of two and the play offs remain an outside possibility with just two Saturdays of the season to go. The first victory came bizarrely at Northampton against Coventry City. I found it difficult though out Friday’s game to remember we were playing the Sky Blues and not the Cobblers. An early goal gave us the lead we warranted, even though the match wasn’t the most exciting. A strike from nothing brought Cov level and it looked as though it may peter out into a draw.

Then a moment that Michael Smith will relish. A last minute winner at the Sixfields which brought on celebrations like the League Two win against Northampton a couple of years ago. This time it was a rampaging run by Wes Foderingham and not the manager that caught the eye. A great win and a happy journey back to Devon for a rare Saturday off and a chance to look forward to the home game against Bradford City. It seemed odd for the next couple of days. With football on Friday, it makes the following day seem like Sunday etc. So kind of weird.

Onto Monday then and the visit of the Bantams. A win was essential. Anything but and the last two matches would have been dead rubbers. It looked as though it was going to end that way until a rare goal decided the points. It was rare because it was from Lee Cox. A midfielder, who’s been an almost forgotten figure. His strike from the edge of the penalty area though, was a beauty. It came against an unambitious Bradford team who seemed very happy to take a point. There was a nice moment when Rafa DeVita was given a standing ovation.  It was a time that the Town fans could show their appreciation to a player who always gave his best in a Swindon shirt. It’s rare when a visiting player gets such a reception so it’s hopefully it’s something he’ll remember for a while.

Where does that leave us? Well it means the season is still alive. Peterborough United though must have the upper hand. Four points in front, with two to play. Still, nothing is certain in football and a win this weekend for the Town and a loss for Posh, would mean for a tense last weekend.

The game at Meadow Lane won’t be easy will it? County always make it difficult for the Wiltshire team. Another former Town man in the shape of Alan Sheehan is always capable of providing the killer cross. One thing that’s massively in Swindon’s favour, is the current defensive stability. Since his return, Troy Archibald-Henville has been excellent. Jack Stephens has been terrific and would be a great asset next season. Ralph Branco was very solid on Monday and deserved his Man of the Match award.  Whatever happens it’s been a season full of promise. Not many people would have put us in this position at this stage of the campaign. Will it have a happy ending? That remains to be seen. Of course there are always off the field things happening at STFC. We’ll leave that for another day, I still don’t understand them. For now it’s off to the East Midlands.

Keep it loud keep it proud keep it SWINDON.

Vic

Swindon Town 1-0 Bradford City: Seriously…what happened..?

Bradford City Gent

Another three points for Swindon Town at home to Bradford City just about kept Town in the race for the League One play-offs. However Ron Smith couldn’t watch most of the action so this is light on detail, but fortunately he didn’t miss much…

Swindon Town certainly know how to end a season with a run of five wins from six games in the lead up to the encounter with Bradford City. Peterborough in sixth were tantalisingly close and while a 4-1 victory for the Posh over Carlisle United today ensured the gap would remain four points, with two games remaining anything is possible although a Town finish in the play-offs does look highly unlikely.

For me, kid-a-quid ensured a second visit to the County Ground for my daughter. Now two and a half she already expected watching football involved plenty of goals having watched Town’s 5-2 victory over Port Vale back in early November. Clutching her toy Rockin’ Robin and fuelled by various snacks I diced watching the game with responsibilities of feeding / entertaining / pandering / comforting etc…

Not long after we arrived I needed to add consoling to those responsibilities. Where was Rockin’ Robin and why wasn’t he doing his Haka? It’s strange how a bloke in an oversized fluffy animal costume captivates toddlers and the lack of the pre-match ‘entertainment’ disappointed one little girl. “Where’s Rockin’ Robin? Where’s Rockin’ Robin?” was all I heard until ten minutes into the game. Given that the day was a kid-a-quid it seemed bizarre the mascot wasn’t there. Yes it’s Easter, but surely some tit willing to be dressed up as a mischievous bird for the afternoon could be found at the County Ground. So we had to make-do with Bradford’s Billy Bantam, itself a poor replacement for the ‘City Gent’. In the end I accepted her answer that Rockin’ Robin “had gone shopping”.

So to the game, what I watched of it. Mark Cooper made two changes with former forgotten man Lee Cox replacing Ben Gladwin and Miles Storey took Nathan Byrne’s place in a 3-5-2 / 3-4-1-2 with Alex Pritchard behind the front two. Michael Smith also received a slightly ironic and very loud cheer from the crowd to counter those boos “he’s been the target of recently”.

Amongst the parental duties it was fortunate that I have nothing significant to miss / report on those opening 45 minutes. The pace of the game was slow, Town didn’t have an answer to Bradford’s regimented back-line and even when creative Pritchard found space between the Bantam’s defence and midfield he frequently wasn’t the eventual target of the pass. Jay McEveley also spent the half wandering infield and compacting the already limited space, I guess under specific instructions. Apparently Wes Foderingham’s save from a Gary Jones free-kick was good, although I didn’t see that.

Finally, the second half witnessed Town not just content to play possession. A series of organised attacks, predominantly through the central to right side of the pitch allowed Town to finally make a breakthrough.

That goal came from an unlikely source. Former ‘outcast’ Lee Cox’s recent appearances have arisen following injuries to the five man midfield. In truth, apart from the goal he never looked to be needed as Bradford’s low risk football meant he had little to contend with. As for the goal, Pritchard’s initial blocked shot rebounded to Cox who was composed and alert enough to sweetly curl his shot into the bottom corner.

A captivating game this wasn’t. I was still hardly distracted to respond to the action on-the-pitch with the exceptions of a close-range header from Michael Smith and a few efforts from Pritchard. Away from the goal and as the half drew on, a series of fierce tackles from Bradford’s combative side didn’t even warrant enough attention from usually card-happy referee who was probably bored and was looking forwards to his drive home to Surrey.

At least there was a welcome standing ovation for a returning Rafa De Vita, which marked an innovative way of recognising a returning former Town player judging by recent crowd reactions.

This turned out to be Alex Pritchard’s final home game as the terms of his ‘youth loan’ from Spurs means he cannot play following his 21st birthday – small print I and many others missed. It’s a shame he’ll miss the Rotherham United game, however I’m sure he’ll be in attendance to bag the silver – not to prejudice our own player of the season vote later this week.

After a miraculous turnaround of the early 2014 results, Town have the form but are quickly running out of games to catch Peterborough. So for the remaining two games we can sit back and relax in the knowledge that Mark Cooper can actually manage a winning side and perhaps the youthful approach can match our ambitions for a real challenge for promotion in 2014/15.*

*Caution! – this is dependent on the continuing ownership saga  

As we return home and still disappointed the robin wasn’t gracing the pitch, she’ll need to make do with this…