Swindon Town 2014/15 Review – Player of the Season

2014-15 Player of the Season

In the final part of our 2014/15 season review, five writers give their verdict on the player of the season and we ask for your vote on their nominations…

David Squires @squires_david

Player of the season – I’m based a long way from The County Ground, so can only base this on match reports, YouTube clips, staying up late for the occasional live commentary and the rare occasions that Swindon matches are shown on satellite television, so my vote should only count half. That said, I’d go for Nathan Byrne. His performance at Sheffield United typified what a great talent he is; mentally tough, quick, skillful and completely determined. A lesser player would have been intimidated by the home crowd, but he used it to power him on.

Nick Judd @nickjudd78

Player of the season – Wes. The way we play, he has singlehandedly taken us into the playoffs. Few keepers are as good as him on the ball. Shame he won’t be here next season.

Iain Watkins @mightygwah

Player of the season – Louis Thompson.  I don’t think it’s any coincidence results suffered after his injury at Crewe.  Will be a big miss next season.

Jonny Leighfield @jonnyleighfield

Player of the season – Considering his form has dropped considerably over the past couple of months, you can’t ignore the fact that Massimo Luongo was a huge factor in our successes this season. He will undoubtedly go on to bigger things at QPR and good luck to him because without him, I’m not sure we would have reached the play offs at all.

Honourable mentions to Nathan Byrne who has been a revelation at right wing back and Yaser Kasim who – for me – is the best technical player I’ve ever seen at the County Ground. At times it looks like he has the ball glued to his feet. I hope we are able to keep him for at least another season because we’re a far better team with him in it.

Daniel Hunt @dphunt88

Player of the season – If Michael Smith and Andy Williams had carried their pre-Christmas form into 2015, then I think Swindon Town could have been automatically promoted and I would be facing a very tough choice between them for player of the season. Similarly, but for his international exploits for Australia, the fatigued Massimo Luongo could have been in the running. Louis Thompson too, has been robbed by an unfortunate shoulder injury at Crewe Alexandra. So I’m left with two outstandingly consistent candidates fighting it out for the award – Jordan Turnbull (51 apps, 1 goal) and Nathan Byrne (48 apps, 4 goals).

To frame Turnbull’s achievements, he’d never played a game of professional football before this season and he came to the club in the significant shadow of his predecessor from Southampton Jack Stephens. Mr Stephens rejoined Town in the final moments of the August transfer window but Turnbull continued to outshine his club-mate with a string of fine performances on the left hand side of Swindon’s back three. I think Turnbull will end up playing for the Saints in the Premier League – he’s a good enough footballer to fit in at a side as capable as them. He’s from Trowbridge, was involved with the Swindon Town youth set-up until he was 15 and you can tell from the way he plays that he cares greatly for the cause.

Nathan Byrne has always been promising but massively frustrating since joining Swindon from Tottenham. He floated from position to position – right back, right wing, left back and left wing – without ever finding a place to call his own. The change of formation to 3-5-2 this season has benefited Nathan Byrne the most of the entire playing squad, he’s been absolutely terrific going forwards, a man reborn! People will point to his lack of defensive responsibility but I genuinely believe this is the plan from Cooper. Byrne is almost completely unshackled down the right hand side and his link up play with his good friend Massimo Luongo has torn many sides apart this season. By my reckoning, Byrne’s got 12 assists to go with his 4 goals and his performances over the two playoff legs are what’s sealed him as my player of the season. That last minute goal at Bramall Lane was the deciding goal and will live long long in the memory.

Vote for Your Player of the Season

Swindon Town 2014/15 Review – Moments of the Season

2014-15 Moments of the Season

In the third part of our 2014/15 season review, five writers give their verdict on their best moment, disappointment and strangest moments of the season…

David Squires @squires_david

Moment of the season – The home win against Bristol City in November set the tone for a great winter and instilled in the players and fans a belief that this could be our season. Nathan Thompson celebrating in front of the away fans in the Stratton Bank was possibly unnecessary and ill-advised, but it was also very, very funny.

Disappointment of the season – Franchise at home on Easter Saturday. There are a lot of football clubs I dislike, but MK Dons are the only ones whose very existence I refuse to accept. Add to that their odious manager and entitled fans and you have a recipe for a miserable Easter.

Strangest moment (of the season) – Living in Australia, lengthy explanations are often required when asked which football team I support. However, for a few weeks in January, Swindon Town were the talk of the Australian media, as Luongo and Kassim dominated at the Asian Cup. Town fans might be interested to know that their club is now known as “Massimo Luongo’s Swindon Town” in the antipodes and there are still regular editorials crying for him to be freed from his imprisonment in Wiltshire and be allowed to take up his rightful place as the lynchpin of the Real Madrid midfield.

Nick Judd @nickjudd78

Moment of the season – Final whistle after the 5-5. Relief.

Disappointment of the season – MK finishing second. Although in saying that, it means we’re not playing them at Wembley. Also, not learning from our mistakes at the back. Love the football when it works, excruciating when it doesn’t.

Strangest moment (of the season) – The negativity among our fans. It’s not a minority, there are a large number of fans who a) seem happiest when they’re unhappy or b) just won’t be tempted back to the county Ground. Why? Baffles me.

Iain Watkins @mightygwah

Moment of the season – Can’t decide between Smith’s goal against Bristol City or Yaser’s nutmeg and assist against Sheffield United.

Disappointment of the season – Besides the obvious, the fact that we, once again, failed to stay in any cup competition beyond mid-November.  Seriously, how have we not scored a goal in the FA Cup since Paul Benson’s against Wigan in 2012?

Strangest moment (of the season) – 11:15am on Sunday 3rd May.  When the teams were announced for the Leyton Orient game and it was revealed that Town’s number 30 was finally going to make his debut.

Jonny Leighfield @jonnyleighfield

Moment of the season – Luongo being named Asia Cup MVP was a huge moment not only for him but for Swindon as a club. It made us all so proud and showed that we play such a high standard of football that a player can go straight into their country’s side and feel like nothing has changed.

Disappointment of the season – Play off final. There may never be a greater disappointment in my opinion.

Strangest moment (of the season) – Again, the 5-5. It felt like a dream and took me days to accept that it had happened. Best game I’ve ever seen.

It’s been a fun season and one up to Wembley, that I’ve thoroughly enjoyed.

Daniel Hunt @dphunt88

Moment of the season – This is a toss up between Michael Smith’s winner against Bristol City and Nathan Byrne’s long range winner at Bramall Lane? Both goals led to delirium in the stands but you could argue that Byrne’s goal was the more important of the two in the scheme of things – so Byrne nabs it again!

Disappointment of the season – Without doubt, our twin televised 0-3 defeats against MK Dons and Bristol City over Easter Weekend. The season was coming to a head beautifully but Swindon fluffed their lines in front of the nation and our realistic automatic promotion hopes came to an end at the same time.

Strangest moment (of the season) – Harry Agombar’s debut against Leyton Orient on the last day of the regular season – something smelt rotten about the whole thing! Hoping that’s the last remaining hangover we have to bear from the previous regime at Swindon Town. Lee Power’s done a marvellous job since acquiring full control of STFC and promotion to the Championship via the playoffs would be fitting confirmation of Swindon’s faith in young, hungry, talented players.

Swindon Town 2014/15 Review – Match of the Season

2014-15 Match of the Season

In the second part of our 2014/15 season review, five writers give their verdict on the match of the season and we ask for your vote on their nominations…

David Squires @squires_david

Match of the season – The goalless draw at Crewe in February showed a steely pragmatism, but I’d say it’s just pipped by the 5-5 draw with Sheffield United – the most thrilling match in a generation. That level of excitement/dread/terror/relief isn’t healthy for a man of my body mass index.

Nick Judd @nickjudd78

Match of the season – Everyone will plump for the 5-5, so I’ll go with the away leg. It looked as though we were going to get annihilated in the opening 20 minutes. To not only come back into the game, but win it, showed a maturity I’ve not seen from this team. Gave great hope for the second leg, and a welcome surprise after a disappointing run in. The City win was fun, too.

Iain Watkins @mightygwah

Match of the season – Sheffield United at home.  Both of them.  The first one showed exactly what this team was capable of.  The second one was just mental.

Jonny Leighfield @jonnyleighfield

Match of the season – Play-off Semi final second leg. Swindon Town 5 Sheffield United 5. Need I say more?

Daniel Hunt @dphunt88

Match of the season – The Sheffield United 5-5 in the play-offs was a freak game – everything that’s wonderful about football – but for atmosphere and local importance, I’m plumping for the 1-0 victory over Bristol City back in November as my game of the season. The County Ground was rocking and the sending off of Wade Elliott after 90 seconds for backwards head-butting Jack Stephens lit the fuse! Within minutes, Scott Wagstaff could have followed Elliott down the tunnel as City lost their heads completely.

Vote for Your Match of the Season

Swindon Town 2014/15 Review – Goal of the Season

2014-15 Goal of the Season 2

In the first part of our end of the 2014/15 season review, five of our writers give their verdict on the goal of the season and we ask for your vote on their nominations…

David Squires @squires_david

Goal of the season – Anton Rodgers v Leyton Orient. The meaninglessness of the fixture (from a Swindon point of view) shouldn’t detract from the perfect execution of the finish and the sheer surprise of the source of the goal. Flicking the ball up and volleying it into the net in one beautifully choreographed movement; two perfect touches being about as many as Rodgers had enjoyed in months (okay, a couple of weeks).

Nick Judd @nickjudd78

Goal of the season – I’d say either Williams’ thunderbastard against Oldham at home, or L Thompson ( 8 think) after Yaser bamboozled two opposing defenders in the corner flag?

Iain Watkins @mightygwah

Goal of the season – Rohan Ince’s volley in the Brighton game.  For Town, my favourite was Willo’s strike at home to Oldham.

Jonny Leighfield @jonnyleighfield

Goal of the season – Michael Smith against Bristol City. Those dancing feet would serve him well on Strictly and although he has come in for some criticism in recent weeks, we can’t forget how important that goal he scored was. And it was a pretty good one at that.

Daniel Hunt @dphunt88

Goal of the season – There’s been some cracking Swindon goals this season and honourable mentions must go to Andy Williams (Home to Oldham), Louis Thompson (Home to Sheffield United) and Yaser Kasim (Away to Chesterfield) but on difficulty alone, Ben Gladwin’s half volley against Sheffield United in the play-off second leg wins it hands down! It was a breathtaking strike that was still rising as it flew past the goalkeeper. Whammo!

Vote for Your Goal of the Season

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

Washbag Podcast: Episode 40 – Massimo Luon-didn’t-go

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Episode #40 of TheWashbag.com Swindon Town FC Podcast is now available to download…

Host Ron Smith is joined by Sam Morshead (Joint Sports Editor at Swindon Link Sport) with regular contributors Daniel Hunt and Iain Watkins.

The four discuss the haunted figure of a defeated Danny Wilson on the County Ground touchline in Town’s 2-0 victory over Barnsley; an Asian Cup featuring two of Swindon’s finest midfielders, the strength of Town’s XI answering your questions on the success of the transfer window and which former player would get into the team.

Also, off-the-pitch fears of insolvency have been quickly quashed, Lee Power is finally the owner of the club, season ticket prices have been announced and we may getting a roof on the Stratton Bank thanks to TrustSTFC.

The next podcast will will in a fortnight after the Crawley game.

Get involved with the podcast, please submit your questions by emailing thewashbag[at]gmail[dot]com or tweet @thewashbag

Subscribe to TheWashbag Podcast on iTunes

Add this Podcast to your RSS feed

Click here to download the Podcast MP3

Listen now…

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Washbag Podcast: Episode 38 – Getting one over Bristol City

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Episode #38 of TheWashbag.com Swindon Town FC Podcast is now available to download and stream…

Host Ron Smith is joined by three guests to discuss latest events at the County Ground – Swindon Link’s Sports Editor Sam Morshead and podcast regulars Daniel Hunt and Brendan Hobbs.

Let’s not dwell on the 5-0 defeat at Cheltenham and instead revel in the fantastic 1-0 victory over local rivals Bristol City. An early sending off, a great derby atmosphere and a superb individual effort by Michael Smith ensures Town inflicted City’s first league defeat this campaign.

Also for discussion is the reemergence of the battle in the STFC boardroom, a quick mention of the potential of Sheffield United employing a convicted rapist, and a look forward to next weekend’s trip to Peterborough.

The next podcast will probably return after the Fleetwood game in two weeks.

Get involved with the podcast, please submit your questions by emailing thewashbag[at]gmail[dot]com or tweet @thewashbag

Subscribe to TheWashbag Podcast on iTunes

Add this Podcast to your RSS feed

Click here to download the Podcast MP3

Listen now…

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