Vic Morgan Blog: Festive Madness…

Vic Morgan 1

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

It’s that time of the year when we tend to have a rather glazed expression. Too many things to do so little time in which to do it. Presents to organise, family to see, and oh yes football to look forward too.

This is a great time of the year for those of us who love the round ball game. Matches seemingly every other day. Long coach trips to chew over the various fixtures and a fair share of daft Santa hats saying “Father Christmas is a Town fan”.

Obviously for someone of my age it would be rather unseemly to wear such a thing but hey knock yourself out they look great.

So what are we to expect? Well four rather tasty matches I’d say. Kicking off with the only one I shall miss…

Work calls so I won’t be at the Tranmere game. I’m still a little bemused as to why it’s on a Friday night, but it is and so sadly I’ll have to forego it. It should be a belter though.

I was going to say cracker but that might get overused. Swindon back to form, albeit low key, with the win at Oldham and Tranmere having a season that their fans can only have dreamed about.

A victory would set us up nicely for tricky trips to Leyton Orient and Colchester before the visit of Pompey in the New Year. That’s a quartet of games that will give us a real indication of just how the second half of the season will pan out.

This time last year we’d seen glimpses of what was to come. And what was to come was a glorious romp through the early months of this fabulous sporting year of 2012.

On Boxing Day we play in the shadow of the venues which lit up our summer. The Olympics and Paralympics were events so extraordinary that even an old cynic like me was swept away in the emotion of it all. Brisbane Road always a difficult place to go but always enjoyable somehow.

Then there’s Colchester. The new home of the U’s is rather isolated isn’t it ? Lovely stadium but somehow rather detached from civilisation. Still a repeat of our cup win there last season would do nicely.

Pompey next up. A club with more than its share of problems in recent times. Seems crazy that a team that not too long ago won the FA Cup has been close to oblivion and still walks a precarious financial line. Also the current home of Paul Benson and I believe Phil Smith. Great servants to the Red and White and I wish them well except on New Years Day.

So while you rush around getting those last minute things done before you can finally fall asleep in front of the festive telly, spare a thought for the nations footballers. Having to forego that extra chocolate or mince pie and not being able to partake of that season drink. On second thoughts heck no!

How many of us would love to have the talent to do what they do? Play football for our beloved Swindon Town. I could have if only I’d had any footballing ability. Bah Humbug!

Keep it loud Keep it proud Keep it SWINDON…oh yes and Happy Christmas…

Vic

A Season In Stats: Foderingham vs Smith vs Lanzano

Wes Foderingham Signs 2

In our first review of the statistics which made the 2011/12 season, Ron Smith takes aim at Town goalkeepers Wes Foderingham, Phil Smith and Mattia Lanzano.

If the 2011/12 season has taught us something we always knew would be true, it’s that quality goalkeepers are actually in short supply. After many years of Talia, Gremink, Lucas and the rest, it seems we’ve found one in Wes Foderingham.

It took Di Canio until early October to finally admit defeat in his trusted no.1 shirt holder Mattia Lanzano. The unsure, homesick and flapable Italian never looked deserving of the shirt even before his rushed clearance at Burton Albion lead to the Brewer’s second goal. He followed that up with feeble stature, pathetic jumping and poor positioning in his final outing and 3 goals conceded against Hereford United, which gave Paolo enough cause to banish Lanzano from the side.

With long servant Phil Smith injured and also hardly a universally favoured first choice, the loan signing of Foderingham - for an initial period of 3 months – was a gamble seeing that the youngster had never played a Football League match and his only recent experience was with Bromley, Boreham Wood and Histon in the non-leagues. However Wes was certainly a gamble which paid off, leading Town to convince Palace to part with their ‘keeper in January and the rest is history.

You don’t really need me to show you the statistics (for all competitions) to prove Foderingham’s superiority, but here you go anyway…

KEY STATS

Games Played

Minutes

Conceded

Wes Foderingham

41

3690

22

Mattia Lanzano

7

578

10

Phil Smith

11

952

13

With Mattia slowly adjusting to life in England, Phil Smith started the season in goal which culminated with our poor start to the season. Without wishing to single out Smith, he was clearly one of many factors that cost us points, culminating in Phil losing 63.6% of games he featured.

 

Win %

Draw %

Lose %

Wes Foderingham

70.8%

14.6%

14.6%

Mattia Lanzano

57.1%

14.3%

28.6%

Phil Smith

27.3%

9.1%

63.6%

Wes conceded 22 goals in his 41 games, which equates to a goal conceded for every 168 minutes which is nearly two full ninety minutes.

Lanzano was the most likely to concede. The Italian ‘stopper’ – using ‘stopper in it’s loosest possible terms – conceded ever 1.4 games / every 58 minutes.

All three ‘keepers kept clean sheet, including notable shut outs for Lanzano against Southend United and away at Crawley, which culminated in our club and league record clean sheets in the League of 26 in total and 18 as hosts. However, it was ‘Super’ Wes Foderingham who kept the opposition at bay for more than half of his matches, making a total of 24 and a club record six successive clean sheets in the League.

 

Conceded

Conceded Per Game

Goal Conceded Every…

Clean Sheets

Clean Sheet Every…

Wes Foderingham

22

0.56

167.7 minutes

24

0.59 games

Mattia Lanzano

10

1.43

57.8 minutes

2

0.29 games

Phil Smith

13

1.18

73.2 minutes

3

0.27 games

Turning to the number of shots on target faced by each ‘keeper, Foderingham was the busiest of all three ‘keepers, facing a shot to save every 23 minutes.

If there’s proof that our defence can take massive credit for the success of Foderingham, allowing him to make so many clean sheets, is the low frequency of shots against compared to last season when Lucas and Smith was called into saving every 19 minutes of football.

Mattia Lanzano had the worst save rate of 50% despite being called to face a shot every 29 minutes, meaning Lanzano would actually make a save nearly every 60 minutes of his time on the pitch.

 

Total Shots on Target Faced

Total Saves

Shot Faced Every…

Save Every…

% Save Rate

Wes Foderingham

158

136

23.4 minutes

27.1 minutes

86.1%

Mattia Lanzano

20

10

28.9 minutes

57.8 minutes

50%

Phil Smith

38

25

25.1 minutes

38.1 minutes

65.8%

Phil Smith’s save rate of 65.8% is a marginal improvement over 2010/11 when he kept out 64.9% of the opponent’s shots.

Foderingham’s contribute was immense. His save rate at 86.1% is phenomenal. As a comparison, Shrewsbury had the best percentage save rate in League Two at 82.9%. Town’s in League Two was 81.2%. Foderingham’s save rate in the league only was a massive 89.3%.

Finally, we’ve found a goalkeeper!

End of season player ratings – Part 2

Score 2

Neil Evans is to give his perspective on everyone who put on a Red shirt in our amazing record-breaking season, part two.. 

18. Mark Scott. The young goalkeeper didn’t really feature and has been released by PDC..we wish him well 5 out of 10

19. Luke Rooney: Is it just me, or were we all expecting a lot more from Luke? if you compare his impact to say Lee Holmes it doesn’t really compare. I guess now isn’t really the time to judge him…lets see him after a PDC pre-season..and then decide if he is the real deal 6.5 out of 10

21. Lander Gabillondo: I have, I confess, something of a soft spot for the Spaniard. However his performances haven’t justified a new deal sadly though he set up the winner at Ashton Gate which alone gives him a 5.5 out of 10.

22. Lee Holmes: We simply have to buy this player from Saints…knows our club and on the evidence I saw, loves being here. He couldn’t get away from the Kassam quick enough! Great dribbler, a real edge of the seat player..crossing is better than Rooney’s too. I am a fan 8.5 out of 10

23. Raffaele De Vita: A real conundrum of a player. The best first touch at the club but must work much harder on the next ball after that…God-like status because of his goal at City..”who put the ball in City’s net….etc”. He can deliver, but next season will be make or break for Raffa…a Len Goodman style SEVEN!

24. Jonathan Smith: A bargain from York City..warrior and artisan in midfield…never shirks a challenge and compliments Ferry’s more creative tendencies. Another with a blistering shot and yes I do think he is better than Risser 7.5 out of 10

25. Jonathan Tehoue: His accusations (long after being discarded are a disgrace)…as a footballer he might have been OK…but bad attitudes we don’t need..
3 out of 10

26. Phil Smith: Loyal servant who’s penalty saves v’s AFC paved the way for JPT success…I’m sure everyone wishes Smithy well for the future…Made more mistakes this year than before but a sentimental 7 out of 10

27. Alessandro Cibbochi: I increasingly warmed to the combative Italian and though he was first class against Leicester away and benefitted from a run in the side…then he disappeared again…confusing but worthy of a solid 7 out of 10

28. Miles Storey: Barely featured so a default 5 is the best I can offer

30. Leigh Bedwell: Seemed to do well when with the squad and out on loan…so a mark of 5.5 out of 10

31. Billy Bodin: The dynasty continues with the offer of a new deal. Richly deserved for a player sent out, mystifyingly on loan the second time, after playing his best game for the Town. I rate Billy and the fact he has wanted first team footie shows commitment and desire…8 out of 10

32. Chris Smith: I missed his game so another default mark of 5 out of 10

34. Ronan Murray: Frustrating player to watch much of the time. Pacey and can clearly finish but never seemed to run where Benno flicked the ball or where midfielders passed it. The worrying thing is he didn’t seem to learn and often lost heart during a game. 6 out of 10

35. Wesley Foderingham: A tremendous acquisition at the right time. Thanks to his defence, Wes often had little to do. When he was called upon he was flawless. A class act in the making….9 out of 10

37. Louis Thompson: Another default mark of 5 for the youngster

39. Medhi Kerrouche: I know it is highly unlikely he will stay but I like the way he plays…and his goals to game’s ratio for us was very good. But I don’t manage the team and saw how PDC mercilessly hauled him off at Colchester in the cup for goodness knows what…7 out of 10

The Rest

Liam Ridelhagh: Solid enough performer and make a good contribution to our backline. Did OK 6.5 out of 10

Jake Jervis: Like the song..I wish he could have stayed just a little bit longer…best goals to game ratio and kickstarted our memorable JPT run at Exeter…8 out of 10

Lukas Magera: Struggled with the English game…but I’m not gonna give up on the giant Czech just yet. A good pre-season may see some useful returns in FL1 6 out of 10

Leon Clarke: So Leon how’s your career then?..Not so good? Shame, you had the talent but not the team-ethic or discipline…ability? Absolutely? Still a winners medal…it’s your loss mate…3 out of 10

Cristian Montano: West ham youngster who simply didn’t cut it..a waste of a loan 3.5 out of 10

Ahmed Abdullah: Never got a look in and has since been released…default mark applies.

Daniel Boateng: A huge disappointment. Big central defender who was knocked about far too easily…as anyone at Hereford can testify…I suspect he won’t have a huge future at A.senal, his parent club. 4 out of 10

Michael Timlin: One game at the season’s start and then an excellent campaign with Luggy at Southend…For services rendered 6 out of 10

Nathan Thompson: New deal offered so evidently rated..rightly so from what I’ve seen 5.5 out of 10

Catching up on the ‘Retained List’, Caddis, McCormick and the rest…

Lyme Regis and Amelie's first visit to the the beach 1

You may have noticed we’ve been a bit quiet responding to the latest Swindon Town news recently, Ron Smith has been on holiday…

A week without the mod-cons in rural Dorset, in an isolated place where the only signal known to locals is morse, has undoubtedly been the relaxing break that me and the young family sorely needed.

The only thing ‘football’ about the week was finding out our nearby market town of Bridport was where the goal nets of the ’66 World Cup Final were made.

Having returned to civilisation – although many outside Swindon would dispute that – the unexpectedly busy flow of post-season news while I was away yielded several key nuggets. So I might have well have my say a little later than usual…

Lyme Regis and Amelie’s first visit to the beach

First we had the ‘Retained List’. This was presented almost as if football had returned to the feudal hierarchy days of retain-and-transfer pre-1963. Although today there’s no certainty you can keep those you want to retain.

Town announced they sought to retain the services of two out of contract players – Billy Bodin and Nathan Thompson – and have shown the door to Phil Smith, Mark Scott, Callum Kennedy and Lander Gabilondo.

Smith surely has more sense than to stay around and warm Foderingham’s gloves. Instead Phil deserves to find the first team action elsewhere at this late stage in his career. Fellow ‘keeper Mark Scott departs having never been allowed to prove himself, save for superb performances for Supermarine 18 months ago in their FA Cup run. Long serving left back Kennedy departs, which is fine by me considering that he blocked me on Twitter several months ago for no apparent reason. Gabilondo leaves – as expected – proving he’s another of Paolo’s failed foreign imports, although one who fortunately joined on a single year deal.

I’d be surprised if either Thompson or Bodin refuse to sign new deals given their rise through the youth ranks. However Bodin’s stock has risen in recent months after excellent loan spells with Torquay and Crewe, leading to a turned-down full international call up. So unless he knows guaranteed first team action awaits at SN1 they’ll be suitors waiting to pounce.

Next up we had the club taking out their option to extend Paul Caddis’ deal until June 2014. The qualifications for this decision are obvious, however as it was likely Simon Ferry joined on similar terms in the summer of 2010, the lack of a similar extension highlights Ferry remains yet to convince his third manager that his long term future is worth securing.

True to form more controversy follows Town around every corner. Midweek news emerged that convicted drink drive killer ‘keeper Luke McCormick has long been training with Town on day release and is set to join on trial in July. Cue the typical posturing from some supporters, treating football as a special case and all too quick to write off anyone with a criminal conviction from earning a living again. Its simple, I don’t like the situation anymore than you, however he’s been convicted, been through the justice system and served his time so move on – even how heinous the crime, and what a horrendous tragedy he was responsible for. What next, should we call for any Town fan with a criminal conviction to be banned from entering the ground..?

Paolo Di Canio has finally returned Alex Cooke’s copy of Inverting the Pyramid by Jonathan Wilson. Not content with plans ‘A’, ‘B’, ‘C’ or ‘D’ for 2012/13, the Italian has vowed to add to the alphabet to provide sufficient options to tackle the many Guardiolas, Bielsas and Sacchis in opposition dugouts next season. Also I must take this opportunity to apologise for us exposing Town’s only tactic as the season progressed, leaving Di Canio with no choice but to seek alternatives. At least Alex will have plenty to get his teeth into…

Could our first signing be Yeovil striker Andy Williams? After scoring enough to secure the Glovers’ League One status he’s going to depart ‘Bosman style’. Like many Town fans I’ve also not be paying enough attention to League One highlights reel on the woeful Football League Show so, for now, I’ll also fit into the “never heard of him so he’s probably crap” category.

Oh wait! Yet another flop is on his way. Etienne Esajas departs to free up much needed wages for Di Canio’s expected summer signing spree. If only Mattia Lanzano would follow suit and learn the phrase ‘mutual consent’…

This summer promises to be as busy, if not busier, than the last. That’ll keep me occupied…

Defeat in chapter at Gillingham but promotion tells the story

2012.04.21 Gillingham celebrations 2

Two defeats in a row is an unusual run of form for the Town, first time it’s happened in fact since August, but promotion was still secured at Gillingham after a 3-1 defeat. Adam Johnson was there for the party…

It’s an odd feeling, celebrating promotion after a defeat. However that odd feeling only lasted all of 10 seconds as Swindon, after a season of drama and at times unstoppable football, claimed their place in League One.

It’s been a tough week for the Town and hasn’t been the ideal way to secure promotion. Gillingham was the chance to write the wrongs and clinch promotion so one out of two isn’t bad going, and being a Swindon fan, you take whatever success lands in your lap.

The defeat wasn’t as bad as Aldershot and that is a positive to take. The stats tell the story with Town having 54% possession and 18 shots on goal. We had the ball and a lack of cutting edge was our enemy.

Without the usual Mr reliable Paul Benson, through a neck injury, it was left to Alan Connell and a new formation of 4-5-1 to clinch the title. The elements are there for this formation to work with John Bostock supporting Connell in midfield and the added help of Ritchie and Holmes on the wings.

Town for the first 20 minutes could have got the ball and given it their own pet name as it wouldn’t leave their side. However, Barcelona taught us versus Chelsea that possession isn’t enough on its own. To be clear, we weren’t that in control, but you get the point.

Town were the better team, playing football along the ground and it was Connell who had a shot on the turn but didn’t connect properly to test the opposition keeper. This was all Town had to boast with their control as Gillingham did what we now call in football, a ‘Stoke’.

A long throw from Charlie Lee found the head of striker Danny Kedwell who flicked it over and into Phil Smith’s net to open the scoring with their first real chance. That’s not said in a bittering way, as Swindon hadn’t taken advantage of their possession and were being shutdown effectively by the Gills.

It was from here that the rest of the half turned into a mess, off the pitch and on it. Di Canio, presumably frustrated by the lack of end product and creativity, sought a change unpopular with the travelling support by bringing off Connell for Ronan Murray.

I see a tactical sense to the change as Town were the better team with the ball on the ground and with the added pace of Murray supported on the wings from Ritchie and Holmes, Paolo could have been looking for quicker passing movement with a 4-2-3-1 but this didn’t show in practice.

Gillingham was on the front foot and had the chances to double their lead. Half time though couldn’t come soon enough and when it did, the always flamboyant Di Canio shouted towards the Town fans, maybe an apology? An explanation? Who knows.

As the players returned early for the second half, so did the possession with Town back in control but again not creating chances. Bostock was the bright spark finding space and his pass found Lee Holmes in the area but his shot was blazed high and wide.

Low and behold though Town were ruing their lack of end product as Oliver Risser’s poor pass, which was his last before being subbed off for Jonathan Smith, let in Chris Whelpdale to slot his shot into the top corner.

Swindon once again though, rather than saying we were unlucky, were getting what they deserved for their lack of cutting edge. Swindon turned back to the tried and tested right side of Caddis, Ritchie and Ferry but to no luck as Gillingham troubled again by clipping the post.

A rare chance for Murray did open up as he had the chance to run one on one at former Town player Andy Frampton. Murray though couldn’t evade the defender as his eventual shot was blocked.

Then, Alan ‘Macca’ McCormack showed how it’s done as he brought out of the bag his attacking boots. He skipped past three players before playing a one two to shoot from 20 yards to get a goal back.

As news came through of goals from matches involving both Torquay and Crawley in Town’s favour the celebrations began with the familiar songs. Eyes went off the pitch and onto the live score update on the phone.

To seal the defeat, deep into stoppage time, Jonathan Smith brought down former Town player Curtis Weston to give Gillingham their third goal. This didn’t dampen the mood as Whelpdales second was celebrated by the travelling Town fans whose cares had gone out of the window.

As the full time whistle blew, Town were awaiting the ‘official’ confirmation that’s avoided them and as the tannoy announced the great news, the away end burst into familiar song. Defeat and all ninety minutes previous were forgotten and promotion could be enjoyed.

It was a game to forget but definitely an after party to remember as the players celebrated the season’s efforts by trying to pull down each other’s shorts and pushing Mark Clemmit from the Football League Show over. Di Canio showed us his scarf as per usual and Jeremy Wray gave us his Paolo impression by pointing to the sky.

The Championship is Paolo’s next step, not the trophy but the league, and as he said these last two games showed our weaknesses. With the defence out of form in those games our lack of attacking threat has shone brighter and this will be an area to address.

However, the defeat to Gillingham was merely a chapter in the whole story of the season and we still have the chance to write our own fairy tale ending next Saturday versus Port Vale by clinching the title.

Lanzano, Esajas, Gabilondo, Kerrouche etc…Missing and never to return?

Missing Person 1

Lee Townsend reviews those members of the Swindon Town squad who haven’t been near the starting XI or even the matchday squad in recent months. He asks whether we can expect to see any of these missing players return before the end of the campaign?

Yes, it’s true. Swindon are top of npower League Two and there are many reasons given for this fantastic achievement. Perhaps the key contributing reason behind this has been the squad strength in depth that Paolo Di Canio has assembled since his arrival in May last year.

Unfortunately, having such a large squad has also received criticism. Ibrahim Atiku left without making a single appearance for the club and Alberto Comazzi made the journey from Italy only to be released in January after four League appearances.

With this said, there are many in the squad but not on the radar for selection as Di Canio has a largely settled team. So will the missing players return for first team action before the end of the campaign?

no.1 – Mattia Lanzano – Missing since 8th October 2011

Oh dear. Oh dear. Now Swindon’s third choice keeper, Lanzano was the fifth summer signing from Paolo Di Canio. A young 20 year old who was expected to grow into the role of Swindon number one, he made his debut against Rotherham and conceded two goals in a 3-2 win. No big deal, right?

Wrong. He made a huge error away against Burton Albion and followed that up by conceding three against a Hereford side that couldn’t score in a brothel before meeting us. He did make a good save against Southend at home though. Anyone else remember that but me?

Reports circulated in November that his contract was mutually cancelled. He then decided to stay until January to find another club. Yea, my calendar has passed that too. His, clearly hasn’t…

Deserves a chance? Not a chance! With Foderingham first choice and Smith his deputy, Lanzano won’t get a look in until there is a major disaster. I doubt we’ll see Lanzano play for Swindon again.

no.11 - Etienne Esajas – Missing since 17th December 2011

The Dutch winger trialled for two weeks in pre-season, a good decision to check him out first seeing that he was apparently a bit injury prone. After a few reasonable roles against Supermarine and Cirencester we signed him on a two year contract one morning….that afternoon….oh yes, injured.

Ok, maybe that wasn’t his fault. But it wasn’t a good start. His performance away against Dagenham & Redbridge was nothing to brag about either. My main memory was the pure frustration of his team mates because his service and delivery was just never good enough.

He exited the team, but did make a small comeback. A substitute appearance in the JPT against Wimbledon made him look like a world beater. A huge curling dipping long range shot crashed against the crossbar and would have easily beaten Matt Ritchie’s drive against Gillingham for goal of the season. He followed that up with an assist for Ferry against Huddersfield.

The comeback didn’t last long  and ended with a second half substitute against Bristol Rovers. A game which resulted in that now infamous Di Canio explosion. Thereafter, he was an unnamed substitute against Morecambe and hasn’t been seen since.

Deserves a chance? Tricky, but ultimately no. Although he has some good skills in his locker, the arrival of Rooney, and use of De Vita on the bench adding to Ritchie on the right looks like there’s no way back in for Esajas.

no.15 – Nathan Thompson – Missing since 4th October 2011

Swindon’s young right back was never going to get many games having to compete with Paul Caddis this season.

Thompson started away at Cheltenham, but surprisingly found himself playing right midfield, however he failed to counter Kaid Mohammed and looked completely lost; leading to his substitution after 56 minutes.

Afterwards he also replaced Alberto Comazzi against Dagenham & Redbridge, pushing Caddis to an unfamiliar centre back position. Was it any coincidence that Caddis gave a penalty away later in the game? I think not…

His final appearance came in the JPT game at Exeter, playing the final 15 minutes in-place of Alessandro Cibocchi, but hasn’t made the pitch since; despite being an unused substitute in the FA Cup matches against Huddersfield and Colchester.

Deserves a chance? Not in my book I’m afraid. It says a lot that with Paul Caddis injured and missing the Cheltenham game, Nathan Thompson was overlooked in favour of Alan McCormack – playing in another unfamiliar position – and the Town youngster didn’t even make the bench as cover.

no.21 – Lander Gabilondo – Missing since 28th January 2012

Wow…I have no idea where to start here. Anyone who follows me on Twitter knows I think a lot of this guy. He’s currently in his second disappearing act. His first was a mystery to myself. He looked good against Oxford in August, brilliant away to Bristol City, but out of his depth on the left against Southampton, which turned out to be Lander’s last game for quite some time.

He eventually came back with strong performances against Southend (JPT) and at Port Vale, but the potential shown was never really fulfilled. 17 appearances this season – the last as a substitute against Leicester City at the end of January – and it looks as though he won’t survive the summer as he contract is coming to an end. I may even shed a tear.

Deserves a chance? Personally, I think he should be the second choice left midfielder. I rate him over De Vita in that position and with Rooney cup-tied for Wembley, it looks as though Gabilondo is looking for a bench place if anything at all! I hope I’m wrong. So for me, yes. I think he does deserve a chance…so help me find Gabilondo

no.26 – Phil Smith – Missing since 08th November 2011

Town’s longest serving player has made only one appearance since Wesley Foderingham’s arrival, albeit that was a great performance in the penalty shootout against Wimbledon when Smith saved three penalties. It appears Phil Smith is once again the second choice keeper in the Swindon squad, it’s not the first time and it isn’t a shock.

Smith started the season in goal to the surprise of many supporters whose confidence in him has always been low and declining. A good goalkeeper when he has competition for his place, but clumsy and not his best when he knows he’s the unchallenged number one.

Deserves a chance? Well it’s pretty simple, no. Yes he was brilliant against Wimbledon, but would he have had the success that Foderingham has achieved between the sticks? I doubt it. I really do.

no.28 – Miles Storey – Missing since 24th September 2011

Three substitute appearances for the young striker this season and a nomination for the League Two ‘apprentice of the year’. With the addition of strength in attack these days unfortunately Miles hasn’t had a look in. I’m sure he’s for the future, but it’s a little odd he was a substitute consistently for a while and then not considered since.

Deserves a chance? A huge player for the youth team in the FA Youth cup this season and I’m sure he’ll get his first professional contract in a few weeks. Definitely one for the future.

no.37 – Louis Thompson – Missing since 28th January 2012

One substitute appearance against Leicester in the FA Cup, Louis Thompson also looks like an option for the future.

Deserves a chance? Unused substitute for a few other games and some great performances in the FA Youth cup, I look forward to day in which he does get his chance.

no.39 - Mehdi Kerrouche – Missing since 10th December 2011

The Algerian returned from his short term loan at Oxford United yesterday.

Of all this list, Medhi Kerrouche is arguably the biggest missing player at the moment. At one point was seen by the fans as a must starter for the team…he had is own song and everyone thought Kerrouche would fire Swindon to promotion. Yes, he fell to the floor a little too often. More than a little actually…

He has eight goals for the Town, but hasn’t been seen since the now infamous 1-1 draw with Bristol Rovers. He was also taken off against Colchester in the FA cup after 20 minutes the week before with Paolo obviously unimpressed with a lack of commitment and desire.

Deserves a chance? Alan Connell found himself in this situation earlier on in the season. He trained hard and came back a better player. Starting and scoring against Wigan was a huge reward for that fight back. Unfortunately, it seems Kerrouche is not as willing to put the work in. He’s asked to stay so hopefully he realises the error. If he does work hard in training, gets his place in the team back and starts scoring again, who is going to complain?

___________________________________________________

Players who are yet to make an appearance this season have not been included. Players are classed as missing since last being selected in the match day 16.

Follow Lee Townsend on Twitter

11 Key Moments of 2011: No.3 Wes Foderingham Signed on Loan

Wes Foderingham

The goalkeeping position at Swindon Town has been up for grabs for a very long time. In recent years we’ve seen ‘keepers come and go, a former England u21 international David Lucas fail to stake his claim to the no.1 jersey and the supporters unconvinced by an array of mistakes, with Phil Smith often singled out for blame.

Under Paolo Di Canio we’ve had two shocks between the sticks; the first seeing Phil Smith awarded a contract extension and secondly the arrival of Mattia Lanzano from the depths of Italian football.

Once the season started, Smith had completely missed the opportunity to make the position his own in his many early outings and was soon sidelined with injury. His deputy Lanzano joined very low on confidence and was soon unsettled and nervous between the posts, leading to his massive error at Burton Albion. Despite putting faith in these two ‘keepers, Di Canio was soon forced to seek a goalkeeping solution…enter Wes Foderingham; Paolo’s signing of the season so far, joining on loan until mid January from Crystal Palace.

The Town no.35 has been nothing short of a revelation making five successive clean sheets in his opening League Two games against Accrington, Plymouth, Gillingham, Bradford City and Port Vale; the best return by a Swindon Town debutant ‘keeper.

Seemingly his only mistake so far has been picking up a backpass against Bradford City, which Wes was adamant took a touch off a Bantam player.

After conceding against Huddersfield in the FA Cup 1st Round tie the pressure was on Wes to claim his sixth successive clean sheet in the Football League and equal a club record set by legendary ‘keeper Peter Downsborough at the start of the 1968/69 season.

Unfortunately it wasn’t to be at AFC Wimbledon. A cross from the left was completely miss-kicked by Risser and a deflected shot by Hatton, which wrong-footed Wes Foderingham, found the back of the net after six minutes. Still…456 minutes without conceding was impressive.

Three more clean sheets against Aldershot, Colchester United and Morecambe have made it eight in 13 appearances; with the on loan ‘keeper yet to concede more than one goal in a single game.

I’ll put it another way…when Wes joined our goalkeeper’s save rate in League Two stood at 57% – Phil Smith 70% and Mattia Lanzano 40%. Today it stands at a much improved 76% following Wes’ personal save rate of 93%.

Wes’ influence has surely been no small part of the reason why secured a 15 game unbeaten run. His confident displays between the posts gave the solid back four of Caddis, Flint, McCormack and Ridehalgh the assurance to play their game, knowing their efforts will always be backed up.

The true test of any great ‘keeper is how they react and bounce back from a massive mistake or conceding three goals they really should’ve saved. As far as Wes is concerned I doubt we’re going to witness him needing to bounce back for some time soon*.

The real question is can we sign him when his loan expires? OI! WRAY get your chequebook out!

*Now I’ve written that Wes will have a shocker against Northampton…

View the other key moments of 2011

JPT AFC Wimbledon: Phil Smith saves the day to send Swindon closer to Wembley

AFC-Wimbledon-fans-001 1

Swindon squeezed through to the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy Area Semi-Final last night thanks to a welcome return to action, and form, by goalkeeper Phil Smith. Matt Davies reports.

Paolo Di Canio made six changes to the team that beat Port Vale. Phil Smith, Joe Devera, Oliver Risser, Rafaelle De Vita, Alan Connell and Mehdi Kerrouche all returned to the starting XI.

Swindon started the game slowly and were trying to feel their way into the game, struggling to keep hold of possession meant they often gave the ball away and really lacked composure. Luckily AFC Wimbledon were also experiencing a similar problem, meaning that the opening 20 minutes had passed by without any shots on goal for either team.

This all changed when Town finally managed to get a hold on the game and push the Dons defence. After winning a free kick roughly 30 yards away from goal Caddis smashed the ball goal bound to see his strike head narrowly over the crossbar.

Despite the majority of possession, Swindon weren’t really doing anything productive with it and seem to lack creativity going forward. All of a sudden the game picked up after the Town fans begin to show their frustration, as Swindon responded by securing good amounts of possession, but still failed to really test the opposition ‘keeper. Wimbledon then began their own fight back, getting back into contention when pacey winger Christian Jolley’s surging run saw him wriggle past three town player before the ball being bundled out of play for a goal kick.

Swindon were starting to lose their grip on the game and Wimbledon were beginning to build momentum as we edged to half time.

A couple of minutes later Swindon won a free kick on the right hand side of the pitch after De Vita was fouled. The delivery was towards the near post and was hit with pace, but was then headed back out towards the right-hand side where Kerrouche then crossed another dangerous ball into the box, this time Connell managed to get his head on it and turn it goal bound forcing a good save.

Moments later a smart through ball from Simon Ferry put Kerrouche through on goal only for him to have a tame shot saved. Both teams then phased out as they wait for the half time whistle. Swindon have the edge as they go in for half time, had possession for large periods of time but failed to anything with it.

The second half started how the first had ended. Good play from De Vita saw him find a cross that picked out an unmarked Kerrouche in the penalty area only for him to shoot wide, really should’ve done better. The game has opened up as Swindon begin to build pressure as they win a corner following great persistence from Kerrouche. The resultant corner was taken quickly and the whipped into the box with pace but with no one on the end, it was easily cleared.

Eager to make the difference, Town made a substitution with Matt Ritchie coming off for Etienne Esajas. It nearly paid off immediately as Esajas made beat his defender before striking a well hit shot only for the ‘keeper to smother. Soon afterwards Swindon made another substitution as Kerrouche made way for Lukas Magera.

Town then had a penalty shout turned down as a bounce catched out the Wimbledon defender who is being hassled by Alan Connell. The defender went down after blatantly handling the ball and the Dons were very lucky to get away with it.

After a quiet spell when it looked like no goal would come from either side, the ball fell to Oliver Risser who unleashed a vicious half volley that flew into the top corner, not giving the ‘keeper a chance. With echos of the Namibian’s goal on the opening day against Crewe, the game needed a superb individual effort like this to spark the match into life.

Swindon then pushed for a second goal and for a while Wimbledon were all over the place.

Connell’s persistence in chasing down lead to a mix up between the goalkeeper and defender, resulting in the former Grimsby man gaining possession only to shoot from an extremely tight angle and wide.

After only ten minutes on the pitch, Czech striker Lukas Magera was then replaced by Lander Gabilondo after suffering a reoccurrence of a recent injury. A big disappointment seeing Lukas had been just getting into the game, so hopefully he’ll be fit for Saturday. The chance meant Di Canio had to quickly switch things around with Gabilondo sent out to the left and De Vita moved to play up front alongside Connell.

Being in the lead, Swindon were now on top of their opponents as Esajas rattles the crossbar with a thunderous effort that would have topped Risser’s goal.

It wasn’t long until Town became complacent in possession and allow Wimbledon to get one on one with Phil Smith. Smith tries his best to save but ends up getting a leg to it that pushed it towards and unguarded Swindon goal and Yussuff gets the final touch that puts the ball into the back of the net in the 81st minute.

With the late equaliser all of the momentum is with Wimbledon as they look to score another. With the match picking up and going end to end, neither side manages to sneak the late winner to send the match straight to penalties.

Wimbledon chose to go first in the shoot out. Phil Smith saved the first penalty as he dived to his right hand side and got a strong hand to it. Then it was Swindon’s turn and Connell is the taker, runs up and its it hard into the top left corner of the goal to put Swindon in the lead the Dons goalkeeper couldn’t get near it.

Wimbledon’s next penalty was also saved by Smith who pulled off a great save to deny them a goal as he dived to his left hand side and made good contact with the ball. Swindon’s second penalty was taken by Oliver Risser, who also hit his hard into the top left corner of the net leaving the ‘keeper nowhere near the ball.

The pressure was then on Swindon after the Dons scored their 3rd attempt at goal. Smith was sent the wrong way as the ball was slotted into the left hand side of his goal to make it 2-1 to the home side. Esajas calmly dispatched his and Swindon’s third into the top right corner of the net.

With it now 3-1, AFC Wimbledon needed to score their next penalty. Phil Smith pulled of his third great save, to his left hand side, to put Swindon through to the Area Semi-Finals. A welcome return to the starting XI and form for the long serving Swindon goalkeeper.

In the end, Swindon were poor in the first half of the game and really didn’t look like scoring. The second saw a massive improvement, but relied on a moment of genius from Risser to give them any chance of progressing. Thereafter, failure to push hard enough for a second goal that would’ve killed off Wimbledon allowed the south London side an unlikely route back into the game.

With Town through to the Area Semi-Final they could face either Southend, Barnet or Brentford when the draw is made on Saturday. If we draw Brentford we’ll be reunited with ex Captain Jonathan Douglas and want-away loanee Mike Grella.

Swindon v Oxford: Constable returns to haunt Town

Completely ignore what was written in the build-up to the A420 derby about the history, passion and desire; as that’s exactly what I’m having to do, coming to terms with a deflating first home defeat since 1973 and a sea of yellow and blue celebrating on the Stratton Bank. All this is despite an vastly improved Swindon performance. With the minutes ticking by to the final whistle I was dreading the prospect of writing this post match review and typing Swindon Town 1 – 2 Oxford United. There I’ve got it out of the way at the start…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.

Continue Reading