A Season in Stats: Part 3 – Who is the better goalkeeper?

David Lucas

A bull... no it's Phil Smith

A position where the players divide opinion around The County Ground like no other. Who is the better goalkeeper? Is it the Town no.1 David Lucas or no.13 Phil Smith?

2009/2010 was a year of domination for David Lucas, Smith could only make 7 league apppearances and was truely the backup.

That’s in contrast to this season as Phil Smith featured in the majority of games, making 26 starts compared to Lucas’ 20, mostly due to Lucas suffering a back injury, but also because the goalkeeper position like all of the Town team has suffered from managerial indecision and tinkering.

Fortunately as both have played a fair share of the season each the statistics collated on them both provides a fair assessment of their ability.

Oh…and before anyone asks, these stats to take into account the Peterborough and Sheffield Wednesday games when the starting keeper was substituted, so Lucas has made 21 appearances to Smith’s 27.

Contribution to result: 

Keeper Apps Won Drawn Lost Points Won P/G
Lucas 20(>1) 4 (19%) 7 (33%) 10 (48%) 0.90
Smith 26(>1) 6 (22%) 7 (26%) 14 (52%) 0.93

Very little difference between the two keepers in their overall contribution to the match result. Phil Smith made a marginally better contribution to points won per game this season, however Smith still contributed more to a losing side.

Goals conceded:

Keeper Minutes Played Conceded Con P/G Mins per conceding Clean Sheets Clean Sheets P/G
Lucas 1718 32 1.52 53.69 4 5.25
Smith 2422 40 1.48 60.55 5 5.4

Phil Smith wins this round, again marginally, with less goals conceded per game, keeping the ball out of the net for an additional 7 minutes per opposition goal and has a better likelihood of keeping a clean sheet.

Shots faced and saved:

Keeper Shots on target Faced Shots OT Faced  P/G Mins per shots OT Faced  Shots Saved Shots Saved % Shots Saved P/G Mins per shot saved 
Lucas 95 4.52 18.08 63 66% 3 27.27
Smith 114 4.22 21.25 74 65% 2.7 32.73

David Lucas has faced more shots (defined as opponent shots on target) at a rate of every 18.08 minutes, compared to every 21.25 minutes for Smith. This could be because Smith organises his defence better to close down the opposition attacks. When faced with a shot on target Lucas is more likely to save, achieving an average of 3 shots saved per game compared to Smith’s 2.7, also reflected in the minutes per shot saved.


Does Lucas catch the ball...?

The contribution of each keeper to match results is very marginal, Smith will go for longer without conceding, however Lucas performed better in terms of the overall number of shots on target he has faced and saved.

The closeness between the two in nearly all statistics highlights why we’ve had no outstanding no.1 goalkeeper all season who deserves an unbroken run in the side. No wonder the managers have tinkered and given both their fair share of opportunities to impress.

So who is the better keeper?…Perhaps Phil Smith may just nudge it judging by these statistics, however he still doesn’t fill me with confidence, although come to think about it… do either of them? It’s a shame both have contracts for 2011/2012 as a new senior face could do wonders for our rebuilding towards a promotion at the first attempt.

A Season in Stats:

Part 1 – Relegation

Part 2 – Slow out of the blocks

10 reasons why Swindon failed in 2010/2011

Phew…this season has finally finished and on a high note with the 2-0 victory at Tranmere Rovers.

Before we start to look forward to hopefully a single season in League Two (before a promotion, not in the other direction…) I just want to run the final rule over 2010/2011, with the 10 reasons why I believe we failed, been relegated and finished bottom of the league.

1. Sold best players and not replaced them – Is probably the most frequently heard and ultimately the real reason why we failed. You just can’t disagree with the ramifications of failing to replace Greer, Paynter, Ward, Austin and Morrison.

That’s not to say these could be replaced, as of course quality footballers don’t come cheap and everyone is after them. Having said that, I don’t believe the effort was really made to replace them.

New permanent signings arrived in other positions and their actual ‘replacements’ Frampton, Pericard, Ball etc were miserable failures.

Avenging the play-off defeat couldn't be forgotten

2. Believing our own hype – The monkey on the back that was the Play-offs couldn’t be forgotten. Avenging the defeat last May was paramount and blinded everyone throughout the season. Even in the new year with the dismal run in full swing, Wilson continued to believe a play-off finish was still possible.

His deluded view persisted until the 3-0 defeat at Leyton Orient in early February, by which time we’d slumped to 21st and 13 points off 6th place. This mindset obviously rubbed off on the players, still believing their own hype and failing to realise the  situation were were falling into.

3. Goals, or lack of them… – We got less points than anyone else because we couldn’t score goals. 50 goals all season masks the fact that since 12 (league) goal Charlie Austin walked out in January we only scored a further 4 goals at home and 9 away. So that’s 20 games in which the whole team scored only 1 more than Austin managed in his 21 appearance in the first half of the season… now that’s relegation form.


4. Fitton didn’t sack Danny Wilson in November – Back in November 2008 Andrew Fitton did the right thing and sacked Maurice Malpas, yet two years later Fitton went against his earlier instincts and stuck with Danny Wilson. This was despite Wilson having an almost identical record to Malpas’ in both league and cups (17 points from 14 games and early cup exits). Fitton later admitted giving Wilson the benefit of the doubt and time because of his play-off achievements was a massive mistake.

5. Relegation fighters? – Wilson assembled the squad with only promotion in-mind. So does it come as a surprise that a bunch of players motivating themselves for promotion fails when faced with the opposite? The problem was that this ‘promotion squad’ couldn’t even get that task right, as they failed to make any impact on the top half of the table.

Many of the new signings had turned down moves to Championship or ambitious clubs to be part of a great new challenge. Prutton turned down Brighton, Dossevi and Rose a few Championship clubs and they ultimately couldn’t give a toss when the club form dipped.

Having gone through the squad only two had previous relegation experience in their careers. Those being Rose with Stockport (although he was on-loan at Norwich) and Prutton in his days at Southampton. The lack of vital experience meant that we were only going to come out on the losing side in the relegation dog fight.

6January transfer window – With Wilson given a final chance to put it right and make purchases in January where were the replacements and experienced fighters? Instead we were treated to signing players we already had (Ritchie), signing a non-league defender with promise but no League experience, an injury prone young defender from Celtic who probably is never going to play for Town and a League Two striker who is again one for the future…

7. Loan failures – After the failure of the January transfer window weren’t we told experienced loan players would arrive and make the difference… Frampton isn’t anywhere near as good as Greer or Morrison, Obika couldn’t give a shit, Grella lost interest, Andrew had spent too much time with Pericard learning how not to make any effort, and N’Diaye was ineffective and looked lost.

Paul Hart = Big mistake

8. Appointing Paul Hart – Yes hindsight is a virtue, however the appointment of Paul Hart clearly did more harm than good. With his history of disenfranchising the dressing room, lack of time and options available to bring in new faces all meant he was on a hiding to nothing. Bodin knows the players and I’m sure would’ve got more out of them, to at least ensure we would’ve gone down fighting.

9. Individual mistakes – Haven’t there been loads of mistakes this season… Phil Smith’s distribution versus Hartlepool, Scott Cuthbert being caught in possession against Notts County… etc. etc., I’ll even go so far as criticsing Jonathan Douglas for shooting too often from distance in desparation for his first league goal with little sucess (1 goal from 43 shots in 39 games). The point is all players can shoulder part of the blame for our failures.

10. We haven’t won at home in 2011 – That’s 12 games, a potential 36 points where we have taken just 7 points from draws in 2011. If you can’t win your home games then you just don’t deserve to stay up.

Town v Tranmere: 2 points lost…at least a point won

Readers of my blog post on Monday may be surprised that I’m not calling for Wilson’s immediate dismissal following the goalless draw with Tranmere at the County Ground last night. After all, I did clearly state from the next two home games “Six points are needed. Any less and we can kiss goodbye to League One”.

Yes, of course a win would’ve been fantastic, a massive boost and something to build on, but I witnessed just enough last night to provide some assurance Town were not going to keel-over to our opponents in the fight to avoid the drop.

Our improvement was helped by the four Town changes to the starting line-up, with Kevin Amankwaah, Andy Frampton, Michael Timlin and Thomas Dossevi all performing well, with Timlin deserving the man of the match.

Town were able to dominate large periods of the game, but found it difficult to penetrate a Tranmere side that was set out to defend the point.

The first half was a story of misjudged long passes with too much behind them. The aimless long balls from the defence brought back memories of Jerel Ifil clearing without a thought.

A year ago Austin’s firmly struck penalty would’ve flew into the net. Such is our lack of luck, and of course, goalkeeper Tony Warner’s excellent save, we couldn’t capitalise early on in the game.

For a short period following the penalty Tranmere took control. Our heads didn’t completely drop and credit to the Town players to remain firm and not capitulate. Fortunately Leteef Elford-Alliyu’s close-range shot hit the Swindon post and then he failed to bury an inviting rebound. Then later in the half Aaron Cresswell long-range free-kick tested Phil Smith, but Rovers couldn’t go into the break ahead.

Wilson made the needed change midway in the second half when the poorly performing JP McGovern was replaced with Alan O’Brien. Not much is expected of O’Brien, but for once he put in a reasonable performance down the left, actually chased the ball a bit, got clear of his marker, but his lack of crossing quality so lets him down time after time.

As the Town pressure on the Tranmere goal intensified, we had several good chances to get the lead, save for further good work from Warner.

We could’ve won it late on as Charlie Austin’s sharp turn and fired in a shot from an acute angle against the bar. It just wasn’t his day…

At least Phil Smith was alert to brilliantly tip over Adam McGurk’s excellent long range effort in the dying minutes of the game. Perhaps our luck had changed. Haven’t these been going in recently for our opponents?

At the final whistle, yes we didn’t get that needed win, but we held on. I’d disagree with some of the media reports of ‘a chorus of booing’, which clearly wasn’t the case as the improvement in the team was evident and support grew as the match progressed.

Moving on to Saturday.

Town face Exeter City and still desperately need to secure that vital win.

Town remain 14 games unbeaten in all competitions against the Grecians, a run that stretches back to 5th April 1980.

What better way to continue that excellent run and in the process secure a win.

Come On You Reds!

2010 STFC Review: February

A busy month with six games and we remained unbeaten, taking the run to 13 games in the league without losing.

February started with goalscoring revelation Charlie Austin ending speculation and putting pen to paper on a new contract. Now less than 12 months later, with new speculation the Town No.32 is set to leave, Town are again trying to secure the former Poole Town striker to a longer deal.

from swindontownfc.co.uk

Charlton Athletic again reminded us to play to the end of the match with a second late injury-time equaliser (after the 2-2 draw at the Valley) with a 93rd minute Nicky Bailey goal to secure a 1-1 draw, after Kevin Amankwaah put Town 1 nil up.

from swindontownfc.co.uk

Next up Oldham came to the County Ground midweek. After Town went 4 nil up we suffered more late goal madness with 2 Oldham goals, including a Phil Smith howler failing to deal with a simple ball into the box, to finish 4-2. Despite the scoreline this was the worst 4-2 game I’ve ever seen and proves goals doesn’t necessarily equal a good game.

February was a month when the forward line of Paynter, Austin and Ward really started to be taken seriously in League One. Another 8 Town goals flowed against Huddersfield, Carlisle and Stockport. Goals seemed easy to come by with 5 for Paynter, 3 for Austin and 3 for Ward over the month, although in the final game of the month at Leyton Orient we played out our first goalless draw since MK Dons on 15th August.

from swindontownfc.co.uk

Still… with Town sitting 5th with 60 points and now catching the fading Leeds and Charlton, what can go wrong?

Wednesday protest falls on deaf ears

Photo from swindontownfc.co.uk

Wednesday are continuing to smart following the circumstances surrounding their equaliser.

Lax Town defending allowed Lewis Buxton space in the box, only to be sent tumbling when rounding keeper Phil Smith.

Players momentarily paused seeming to wait for the referee to award a penalty, only for the referee to signal advantage, allowing Clinton Morrison to put the ball into an empty net.

Wednesday’s players and bench were furious the goal stood, a penalty wasn’t awarded and an inevitable red card not given to Smith.

Following treatment for an injury sustained during his ill-timed challenge, Smith was ‘only’ cautioned despite all Wednesday’s efforts to change the ref’s mind.

The referee was fully entitled to play the advantage as Morrison moved onto the ball and would clearly benefit due to the empty net. He never whistled to stop play so he didn’t reverse any decision to award a penalty.

Most importantly… if you want to blame someone for not gaining a tatical advantage the referee had no doubt but award the penalty, blame Clinton Morrison. He didn’t have to rush onto the ball and score.

So why did the Wednesday bench continue to demand Smith be sent off? The goal was scored so there was no disadvantage to deny a goal scoring opportunity so he couldn’t be dismissed. To continue to claim the officials don’t understand the rules by not sending Smith off is ridiculous.

Tough Wednesday! You weren’t disadvantaged. You scored the goal. What more do you want!?!

Charlton Avenge Play-Off Defeat Against A Fading Town

I’ve now had the chance to reflect on Town’s 3-0 defeat at the hand of Charlton Athletic last night… Town played desperately poorly and like a team of strangers in a match that only Charlie Austin and David Prutton came out of with any sort of credit.

It was always going to be tough against a well organised Charlton side that was seeking and deserved revenge for the play-off semi-final defeat on penalties. Charlton knew exactly how to dominate the game facing a Town team that was low on confidence, suffering a lack of consistency without the figureheads of Douglas, Ferry, Greer, Paynter and Ward whom they faced earlier this year.

Charlton were far bigger as well as stronger, constantly restricting the space and putting pressure on Town. This worked as Town became rushed and more and more disjointed with nearly every pass going astray, particularly from the normally accurate JP McGovern, our midfield might have well as not turned up. Later in the game the change Wilson made was to bring on the ineffective Alan O’Brien who is hardly known to turn things around.

Upfront, did Vincent Pericard actually win an aerial challenge? What is the point of playing the big man if he can’t be strong and put pressure on our opposing defence to provide Charlie with the flick-ons he needs. I certainly believe Charlie is much more of an aerial threat than Pericard.

Then our defence. 3 of them couldn’t stop Joe Anyinsah who made the first Charlton goal. They provided Charlton which so much space in the final third throughout the first half and we were lucky to go in behind only a single goal down. Without pressure Joe Anyinsah found space in the box to head home a second. A similar story for the third as Paul Benson rises first to head the ball past a static Phil Smith.

As the match wore on our confidence took a hammering. The defence, too scared to concede another, pumped the ball up field where it would fall straight at the feet of a Charlton player ready for another attack, or simply clear the ball out into touch to Charlton’s advantage. We lost any rhythm and Charlton secured a dominant 59% possession and of course the victory.

So Town after last season’s heroics Town are fading way, now sitting 17th and staring at relegation rather than upwards. 7 points now separate us and the resurgent Southampton who’ve risen to 6th place. 27 goals have been conceded and 13 of those have been put past Lucas and Smith within the last 4 games… this isn’t the start we were expecting.

On Monday I looked back 2 years ago to the end of Maurice Malpas’ tenure at Swindon, pointing out the similarities to our current run of results and games we now face. I considered Charlton was a must win game for us to provide confidence going into the 2 cup games. Now that has fallen by the wayside the pressure is really on for a result against Plymouth Argyle this Saturday, otherwise my normally supportive tune for Wilson may need to be reconsidered.

Substitutions: Making an Impact

On paper we appeared to have strength in depth. I also thought…perhaps we might even be blessed with the ‘strongest’ Town squad for some years. So why hasn’t this manifested itself into an onfield advantage, leaving us winless after 5 league games?

So far on the bench this season we’ve seen Amankwaah, Ball, Caddis, Dossevi, Ferry, Jean-Francois, Jesionkowski, Morrison, Prutton, Sheehan, Smith, Thompson and Timlin all keeping the seats warm at some point.

I’ve been taking an in-depth look at whether each substitution has had a neutral, negative or positive impact on the final result in the previous 5 league games.

Of Wilson’s 14 substitutions so far 50% have been neutral, 35.71% negative and only 14.29% having a positive impact on our performances.

Those positive subs were the introduction of Dossevi and Pericard in the 61th minute against Hartlepool to put 2 upfront and Dossevi on the right, when we came from 2 behind to draw. That is it!

So why aren’t Wilson’s substitutions having a greater positive impact?

Interestingly… all but 2 of the substitutions have occurred between half time and 75 minutes. Wilson notices changes are needed so at least we must give him some credit for trying to put it right, i.e. Rose against Brentford.

However, this could equally imply more serious failings in a choice of tactics from the off or by failing to take the opportunity to make a significant change at half time.

This is best demonstrated by the 57.14% of goals we’ve conceded in the opening 30 minutes and none scored so far from Town in that period.

Evidently we’ve been found out early on in games, so something isn’t right in how we’ve been lining up. Whether that is down to insufficient scouting of the opposition, failing to make early chances pay, or just because the opposition is better than us, I don’t know although most likely all three.

How will this all translate against Southampton on Saturday…

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.

WEM-BER-LEY WEM-BER-LEY!! Town Beat Charlton On Penalties

There is definitely something about the Play-Offs. There is no more satisfying way to experience being promoted than through the annual end of season fight for promotion, which Swindon have previously won in 3 of 4 attempts. Whilst we are not in the Championship just yet, we now are potentially 90 minutes away from the second tier of English football for the first time in 10 seasons.

from swindontownfc.co.uk

Last night was a rollercoaster ride of such a wide range of emotions that I’ve only recently experienced, as well as becoming accustomed to, watching England in the World Cup or Euro Finals.

It was always going to be tough and I by no means thought the game was over after the first leg with such a slender single goal advantage. But I couldn’t prepare myself for what I, all other Town fans and of course Charlton supporters experienced during those 120 minutes and more.

Drama, guile and determination were evident in this classic encounter with Charlton Athletic at The Valley. What a game. It was full of nervy and edge of your seat moments for the whole match.

Lets face it, it is undeniable that Charlton were dominant, but how can Town rob / stun Charlton, depending on your point of view, that extra time victory on penalties after what preceded?

We lost first choice keeper David Lucas to injury after only 1 minute. We came back from the potential abyss after being 2 goals down at half time. A man down for a significant chunk of the second half after Gordon Greer’s fine black belt karate kick and follow through on Deon Burton which sees him miss the final. Smith’s fine and timely saves from the 20 Charlton shots on target, as well as the others agonisingly, for Addicks fans at least, just past the post and not to forgot the others that hit the woodwork. How didn’t the dominant Charlton score more to finish the game?

So it all changed after a persistent Swindon got the deserved goal back from a nonchalant and compossed effort from ever improving Danny Ward, sent me and the others watching in the Legends Lounge wild. We were back in the game after it had been looking as if despite our pressure our luck just had deserted us. Even though Greer was sent-off it seemed to inspire the team. Then after Charlton stepped up the pressure leading up the the dying minutes of regulation time, the sending off of Llera evened up to 10 men each, but importantly removed Llera, who of course scored the last minute equaliser back on Boxing Day.

Extra time couldn’t separate the teams. Town were backs against the wall for most of the extra 30 minutes with the tiring Austin leading the line as best he could. If only we could have had that extra outfield substitution that we lost when Smith replaced Lucas.

When the referee blew the final whistle at the end of extra time I was so relieved we overcame the Charlton pressure and heart stopping moments, but now we headed into the unknown and lottery of the penalty shoot out. Would it be the goalkeepers to the rescue or will the taker bottle under the pressure?

I won’t go into detail about the penalties as you can probably real-off all the takers in order right now, but I think it’s best shown from the perspective, reactions and emotions of both fans through these Youtube clips. Firstly dejected Charlton fans behind the goal where they were taken, secondly the contrasting view, jubilation and pandemonium from the Swindon end. Brilliant!

So after an amazing game Town progress to the Wembley final on May 29th and will meet Millwall or Huddersfield. Right now I don’t care who we may play! Well done Swindon, well done the squad and Danny Wilson for inspiring the team and the town. Come on You Reds on your march to the Championship! If Poxford can get promoted….so can we!

*Update* – Now the ticket details have been published here is a Wembley seating plan

Town Live on TV

With the live televised home game against Exeter on Monday fast approaching, I’ve tried to come up with a list of all previous Town games shown live on TV. I’ve covered most of the major and recent matches but I know there are some missing, perhaps some ITV matches in the 1990s? If anyone can remember any other Town games on TV or memories of our TV performances, please feel free to comment.

  • 2-4 v Derby County (H) (Championship) 06.12.1992 – ITV Big Match

Town were 3-0 down, I left with 5 minutes to go and missed Hazard and Maskell get two back and Derby get their 4th. Following this I’ve learnt my lesson and only left a match early once more, a 3-1 home defeat by Huddersfield in October 2008 and also missed a Town goal!

  • 1-2 v Aston Villa (H) (FA Cup 5th Round) 16.02.1992 – BBC Match of the Day

Our first live match on the BBC forever remembered for the throwing of stones at the BBC Portacabin studio perched above the Stratton Bank.

  • 4-3 v Leicester City (N) (Championship Play-Off Final) 31.05.1993 – ITV Big Match

Needs no introduction.

  • 0-5 v Liverpool (H) (Premier League) 22.08.1993 – Sky Sports Super Sunday

Town are soundly beaten and embarrassed in front of the Sky TV Cameras.

  • 1-1 v Coventry City (A) (Premier League) 03.01.1994 – Sky Sports Monday Night Football

Sky cameras are switched to Highfield Road to cover Town’s game following the postponement of the scheduled TV game at Anfield.  Problems with the live feed mean Sky miss Andy Mutch’s 90th minute equaliser.

  • 0-1 v Sheffield Wednesday (H) (Premier League) 04.04.1994 – Sky Sports

Town lose in front of the Sky TV cameras again which effectively ended hopes of avoiding relegation, although mathematically Town were relegated after losing 4-2 at home to Wimbledon on the 23rd April.

  • 2-0 v Port Vale (H) (Championship) 14.08.1994 – ITV Big Match

First game of the season following our relegation from the Premier League.  A routine 2-0 victory over Port Vale gives a false impression of how the season unfolded.

  • 2-1 v Middlesbrough (H) (Championship) 15.01.1995 – ITV

Steve McMahon’s third victory for Town with goals from Fjortoft and Horlock sealing the victory after Boro went down to 10 men.

  • 2-1 v Bolton Wanderers (H) (League Cup Semi Final 1st Leg) 12.02.1995 – ITV Big Match

The first cup semi-final since games against Wolves in 1980 pits Swindon against fellow Division One team Bolton Wanderers.  A sell-out at the County Ground saw Town go behind to an early goal from Alan Stubbs.  Just before the break, recent signing Peter Thorne headed in a 38th min equaliser, then slotted home the winner from a Fjortoft shot saved by Branagan.

The second leg was not shown live on the TV. Eventually Town lost 4-3 on aggregate after on 88th third goal from John McGinlay.

  • 5-2 v W.B.A. (A) (Championship) 19.03.1995 – ITV Big Match

A resounding win for Town which sees Fjortoft score for the last time in a Swindon shirt. Rumours that Jan was to leave were confirmed by his less than exuberant celebration.

  • 2-0 v Wolverhampton Wanderers (H) (League Cup 1st Round 1st Leg) 20.08.1996 – Sky Sports

Wayne Allison and Scott Leitch give Town a 2-0 lead going into the 2nd leg at Molineux.

  • 0-1 v Wolverhampton Wanderers (H) (League Cup 1st Round 2nd Leg) 03.09.1996 – Sky Sports

Despite conceding an early goal from Simon Osbourn Town hold on to win 2-1 on aggregate.

After Swindon beat QPR in the second round we were drawn against Manchester United at Old Trafford in the 3rd round. Town played magnificently and were unlucky to be beaten 2-1 with Poborsky scoring in the first half, Thorne equalised and Scholes scored the winner for United.

  • 1-2 v Wolverhampton Wanderers (H) (Championship) 27.09.1996 – Sky Sports

The Sky cameras are again at a Swindon v Wolves game. This time Wolves beat Town at home in the League thanks to a late Dominic Foley winner.

  • 0-1 v Portsmouth (A) (Championship) 31.10.1997 – Sky Sports

Town were riding high in Division One and this televised win away at Portsmouth, thanks to a Chris Hay winner, puts Town briefly on top of the table. Afterwards it all went dramatically downhill with 3 wins in the remaining 26 games to finish in 18th place.

The game is best remembered for keeper Steve Mildenhall’s injury. Mildenhall made his full league debut after a pre-match injury to Fraser Digby. Steve was injured in a collision with Robbie Pethick and was in severe pain. It later emerged he had suffered a gash to his balls, but managed to play on for the whole 90 mins before heading to the hospital after the game. Steve achieved cult status for his display playing through the pain and was the man of the match.

  • 0-1 v Oxford United (A) (FA Cup 2nd Round) – 08.12.2002 – BBC Match of the Day

This game was on the box whilst I was at Uni. In my excitement that a Town game was on terrestrial TV and against Oxford United in the FA Cup, I’d assembled a crowd in my living room with promises of a battering of our great rivals. I wish I wouldn’t have bothered and I looked a fool, alike all Town fans following our insepid display in front of the nation.

If you can bare to put yourself through it again here are some highlights.

  • 0-1 v Brighton (H) (League One Play-Off Semi) – Sky Sports

Luck was on the side of Brighton who take the early advantage in the play-off semi-final 1st leg with a 1-0 win at The County Ground.

  • 2-1 v Brighton (A) (League One Play-Off Semi) – Sky Sports

Brighton were unbeaten at The Withdean since November. Town needed to win by a clear goal on aggregate as away goals do not count in the play-offs.

Town leave it late to send the game into extra time with a Sam Parkin goal to level the tie.  With Town on the ascendancy Rory Fallon scored to take the lead in the tie and Town fans were starting to plan their trip to Cardiff. As for what happened next, I’ll let the video below tell the story….

  • 0-2 v Notts County (A) (FA Cup 2nd Round Replay) 15.12.2004 – Sky Sports

I didn’t have Sky so I invited myself around my mate’s house to watch the game for this FA Cup 2nd Round Replay. I have to say that this was the worst Swindon performance I have ever seen and no-wonder Mark never forgets to remind me of this game and the worst 90 minutes of his life.

Fortunately I can’t find any video footage of this game.

  • 2-1 v Bristol City (H) (League One) 11.11.2005 – Sky Sports

A Friday evening game at the County Ground sees a local derby with Bristol City.  Goals from Fallon and McDermott end Town’s winless run under Iffy Onoura as Town had failed to win in the league since August. The season never really improves and Town drop into the forth tier for the first time in 20 years following the reverse fixture in April at Ashton Gate.

  • 3-2 v Lincoln City (A) (League Two) 25.03.2007 – Sky Sports

A surprising game for Sky to cover. At least Town gave a decent performance for the camera with goals from Christian Roberts, Barry Corr and Lee Peacock sealing a 3-2 victory.

  • 0-1 v Yeovil (H) (League One) 09.09.2007 – Sky Sports

Our last match on TV was over 3 years ago. Much of the pre-match talk was about the planned takeover by BEST Holdings. The American would-be chairman Jim Little appeared in front of the camera to tell the world of his ambition for the club. Soon Jim and the awful Portuguese players were off, but the damage was done, Paul Sturrock left and the rest is history.

As for the match itself, it was a far from convincing performance from either team but in the end Lloyd Owusu headed past Phil Smith to give Yeovil the lead in the 77th minute and their first ever win at the County Ground.

Those are the most memorable TV games I can recall, but I’m sure there are some more?