*NEW* The Overseer Column: Wrecking Crewe

It’s only taken 18 months! Yes, finally I can welcome ‘The Overseer’ to The Washbag. Perched in the Arkells Stand with his flat cap and pipe, Neilsen ‘The Overseer’ gives his expert and often irreverent view on Swindon Town.

From ‘Bell-ends’ to ‘Bellissimo’ – what a contrast from the morale-sapping dross we were subjected to last season! The Paolo Di Canio [hopefully fascism free!] Revolution got off to the suitably sizzling start we’d all hoped for by derailing Crewe Alex three to zero in the battle of football’s foremost train-spotters.

With PDC’s appointment having provided a much needed shot in the arm for all of the Red Army in the wake of 2010 – 11’s morphine-laced lethargy, in contrast the second half of the Crewe game felt like a heady cocktail of valium and Viagra. This served both to revive the feel-wood factor plus to well and truly blow away the cobwebs, like converting a derelict house into an Indian restaurant. On reflection, surely that should be an Italian restaurant.Continue Reading

Swindon 3-0 Crewe: A tale of two halves

Scot Munroe reports on the opening League Two encounter at the County Ground as Town finish 3-0 winners over Crewe Alexandra.

It could’ve been a different story at the County ground this afternoon as visitors Crewe Alexandra completely dominated the first half. An earlier nervous and edgy Swindon later rallied to take the spoils with a dominating display in the last quarter providing Paolo Di Canio with his maiden victory.

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Not Supermarine, a Super-Town in the making..?

After returning from Italy, Paolo Di Canio took his Robins a short distance across town to face Evo-Stik Southern Premier Swindon Supermarine at Hunts Copse.

With a first opportunity for the Swindon public to witness Di Canio in the flesh a bumper crowd swelled the football ground attached to a bungalow, delaying the kick-off for 15 minutes, a rarity for a pre-season friendly.Continue Reading

A Season in Stats: Part 4 – A case for the defence…or not…

Given the delay in the new Swindon manager announcement you can feast your eyes on some more statistics I’ve gathered over the course of the season.

This time I’ll be having a look at the defensive phase of play and the contribution of all players with a defensive role, in particular, these stats reveal how many goals have been conceded whilst each player has been on the pitch, how many per game played and the frequency arising from total minutes per player.

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At Last… The First League Win of the Season!

from swindontownfc.co.uk

I never doubted our ability to eventually deliver and we certainly deserved the 3 points against a rudderless Southampton, whose arrogant and deluded management and fans need to realise they are a League One club.

It was a tight affair with possession 49/51 in favour of Southampton. Chances were limited with an equal amount of shots on and off target. It was only in the number of fouls that Southampton had an unassailable lead.

It was my first chance to see Town line-up in the new look 4-3-1-2 formation. A tactic offering true flexibility to fit all strategies. McGovern was free to roam behind the front two and often found himself on either wing. Later it offered a swift defensive switch to a 4-1-3-2 with Douglas holding and a flat 3 in-front. Also it allowed a change to a central diamond when desired. As a result Southampton found it hard to play through the narrow midfield and resorted to dreadful long balls which were easy for Morrison and Cuthbert.

With Town playing so much positive wide wing-play throughout last season it was difficult to get accustomed to the lack of width. But I’m more than willing to sacrifice this for a midfield that worked together and has found a natural role for Prutton with Douglas, Ferry and McGovern. Prutton has been lost in a 2 man midfield and hasn’t worked well with a similar player in Douglas. Now he’s been allowed to push higher up the pitch and certainly was a more positive and attacking effort from the former England u21 man who’s indecision has cost us dear on many an occasion so far.

After such a mediocre start to the season, I couldn’t be more impressed with Wilson’s response to significantly alter our system and play to our strengths that was first  implemented in the Southampton Johnstone’s Paint Trophy victory.

Following our poor start and also the  changes to the look and style of the team, it was perhaps inevitable that some…and I emphasise the minority of  Town fans, were frustrated at what they were witnessing before we took the lead.

At the hour mark, when a lively Pericard was replaced with Dossevi and a wandering Callum Kennedy replaced by Jean-Francois, Danny Wilson didn’t deserve the verbal tirade he received from 2 lone voices in the Arkells Stand. These isolated voices abused Wilson for these decisions and were rather pointless attempts to call for an immediate end to Wilson’s tenure at STFC. Needless to say this didn’t go down to well in the stands.

Why do some idiots insist on making these  absurd comments. Of course everyone is entitled to their opinion, but what use does this serve with 30 minutes to play and the team evidently improving? Also the decisions to bring the players off were correct.

Later when Austin was injured one of the same fickle fans, still evidently pissed off with Pericard being replaced, shouted “who are you going to bring on now then Wilson!?”…. well if you’ve been paying any attention the answer was simple and sitting right in-front of you in the dugout.. David Ball.

So in all this was an excellent win which takes us from the bottom to mid table. How things can change…

In terms of Charlie Austin’s injury… that deserves it’s own post to look at where this leaves us.

Town v Brentford

from swindontownfc.co.uk

2009/2010 started fairly slowly for Town with 4 points out of a possible 9 and little sign of what was to come. Now the 2010/2011 season shows no sign of being any different, as a disjointed Town go one worse by failing to register a victory in our opening 3 games. In doing so, we’ve made our worst start to a season since the 2001/2002 season, when only a solitary point was gained by the end of game three.

Anyone who watched the game would no doubt agree that we put in a much improved home performance than the games against Brighton and Leyton Orient, however this still was plainly not enough as Town drew 1-1 with Brentford.

I couldn’t have been more impressed with Town in the opening 8 minutes. We started positively and controlled the game, making a couple of well created openings, but then it only took one stupid mistake to cock up the game plan and put us on the back foot.

Michael Rose’s poor decision and lame header back to Lucas gifted the ball to Bees striker Charlie McDonald who slotted home into the empty net. Credit must go to McDonald who chased the ball and anticipated the possibility of a mistake, but with my high hopes for Rose now dashed following his poor performance, the opportunity for Kennedy to start at MK Dons next week must be given.

Brentford had several good chances after going one nil up as the Town’s defence looked shaky to say the least. I couldn’t believe the scoreline was still 1-0 and surely a more composed and quality opposition would have firmly took the advantage.

For once Alan O’Brien was involved in a game and he created chances on what has been a void on the left following the departure of Danny Ward. O’Brien was offered space down the left and duly found his running boots and finally showed his acceleration and pace. However whilst one or two opportunities were made, Alan was found short in the majority of cases as he couldn’t dribble and beat the Bees defence, plus his crossing was poor.

Town’s goal late in the first half from Prutton isn’t going to win goal of the season. The truth is I didn’t care how our goal came as we deserved and needed to be back on level terms.

The second half was much the same as the first with chances available for both teams. It was good to see some relatively early substitutions from Wilson, although Dossevi had a good game and it was disappointing to see him replaced. I guess he’s still finding his fitness but after his goal last weekend he’s certainly looking sharper.

The final chance, late in stoppage time, came for poor Vincent Pericard. Who after a strong run, took aim from the edge of the box and failed to test the keeper, much to the anguish of  Prutton who had tracked the move and found space in the box. From my view above the dugouts I could see Wilson rightly pissed off that Pericard had blasted over. Then Peter Shirtliff mentioned something to the gaffer and both shared a laugh. Peter was obviously taking the blame for urging Pericard earlier this week to “be more selfish”. I can’t blame Pericard for having a go. He will score this season and it won’t be pretty.

The build up this week has been mostly about our problems in defence. Whilst yesterday showed no sign of these problems being eradicated, at least the deserved man of the match performance from Sean Morrison certainly answered the fan’s and Danny Wilson’s calls. How can Morrison still be 19? His towering presence in the centre of defence stood firm throughout the game akin to a seasoned pro, however Sean has only made 40 league appearance in his short career. His strength, calmness and tackling was clearly demonstrated late in the second half when making a last ditch tackle to deny Brentford a clear shot on goal.

The search for the first win of the season continues… keep the faith.

Home Grown?

Yesterday the Football League AGM ratified rules for the 2010/2011 season. From next season clubs are required to name 10 “home-grown” players in a squad, with a maximum squad size of 25 players aged over 21. There are no to be restrictions on players under 21.

To be “home-grown” players must be registered in domestic (English) football for three seasons before their 21st birthday.

So which players in the current Town squad over 21 at the start of next season will qualify as “home grown”?

  • David Lucas – Youth at Preston North End
  • Phil Smith – Youth at Millwall
  • Kevin Amankhaah – Youth at Bristol City
  • Jonathan Douglas – Youth at Blackburn Rovers
  • Michael Timlin – Youth at Fulham
  • Alan O’Brien – Youth at Newcastle United

There are seven first team players over 21 that are not “home grown”; Scott Cuthbert, Gordon Greer, JP McGovern, Craig Easton, Lescinel Jean-Francois, Jakub Jesionkowski and Vincent Pericard. Gordon Greer spent time at Blackburn before he was 21 but was not registered for three seasons.

On the basis Easton and Timlin sign their new contracts for 2010/2011, Town already have 6 first team players over 21 who fulfil the League criteria. Younger players are needed to fill the remaining 4 slots. There are five Town players who have been registered for at least three seasons; Charlie Austin, Sean Morrison, Callum Kennedy, Mark Scott and Nathan Thompson. New professionals Billy Bodin and Will Evans have been registered for 2 seasons.

So at the moment, Town can just about meet the minimum 10 “home grown” player squad requirement.

The League’s intention to improve domestic football and youth player development is certainly a good idea. In recent years Town have been successful in developing youth players and given them first team opportunities. So with David Byrne and Paul Bodin in charge of youth affairs, we can be confident that the club itself can produce “home grown” players meeting the League rule, as well as taking this a step further by developing local Swindon and Wiltshire talent.