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

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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

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MK Dons 2-1 Swindon: Promotion rival provides Town with Halloween scare

2014.11.01 MK Dons 1

Two Milton Keynes goals in eight second half minutes from Dele Ali and Anthony Kay were enough for the ‘Dons’ to snuff out a resolute Swindon Town side at Stadium MK. The resurgent Jon Obika gave Town a 6th minute lead but our hosts were the better side over 90 minutes – only some late heroics from Wes Foderingham and the Swindon defence keeping the goals conceded down to two, writes Daniel Hunt.

I’m going to mix things up today! I’m sure you’ve already read the match reports by the Swindon Advertiser, FLIC Sport, Swindon Link, etc if you’re looking for a blow-by-blow account of how the defeat unfolded. On the way home from Milton Keynes yesterday, I took to Twitter to give my thoughts on what I’d just witnessed in Milton Keynes. Over the next five minutes reading, I will expand on each tweet to give you my version of events.

1. “Don’t be too downbeat STFC fans, beaten by a very good MK side today. Massive physical side with quality added by Ali, Afobe + Powell…”

Thoughts echoed by Swindon manager Mark Cooper in the post match press, Swindon didn’t play badly at all but were on the receiving end of the best MK side I’ve seen since we’ve been playing them (2004 onwards). On loan Arsenal forward Benik Afobe was a serious handful – as Manchester United found out to their peril – and several times Afobe glided past his marker to get round the back of the Town defence. With the exception of the diminutive Ben Reeves in midfield, it was striking looking around the pitch at how big this MK side really was. Factor in that a couple of these ‘big units’ can really play in Ali and Powell and they look perfectly set up for promotion this season.

I’ll touch on winger Daniel Powell more later in this report but 18 year old Dele Ali lived up to his pre-match hype and deserves special praise. You can see why many Premier League clubs are looking at him; he’s big, skilful and has the ability to skip past players a la Massimo Luongo. Ali took his goal beautifully to equalise in the 51st minute, passing the ball past an unsighted Wes Foderingham.

2. “MK did their homework, shackled Byrne very well – 3 crunching tackles on him in first 15-20 mins. Wasn’t the same Byrne after that #STFC

Nathan Byrne is having the season of his life and is certainly a tough little cookie. He was flattened three times by different MK players in the first half of the first half – indicating that they had singled out our right wing back for special treatment. Credit to the former Spurs man, each time he got up again and carried on but it was a below par performance from Byrne after that and I think the chunky Dean Lewington did a really good job on him at left back.

What was very frustrating from a Swindon point of view was that Anthony Kay escaped a yellow card for the awful late tackle on Byrne in the build up to the Obika goal, so that when Kay eventually picked up a booking in the 69th minute, he should have been having an early bath. Frustrating!

3. “Goals conceded were sloppy from a #STFC point of view – 1st especially. Poor Bell headed clearance and then Luongo guilty of over playing!!”

The opening periods of second halves are becoming a real issue for the current Swindon side – three times in the last four games, 1-0 half time leads have been surrendered in the 49th minute against Rochdale, 47th minute against Colchester and yesterday in the 51st minute against Milton Keynes.

If you’re looking for more themes, self inflicted pain in the build up to goals is becoming an annoying habit as well. Amari’i Bell had an opportunity to head the ball clear of danger but his header ballooned to back into the centre of the pitch and into MK possession. Never fear, Massimo Luongo stepped in and won the ball back, only to commit the cardinal sin of overplaying on the edge of his own box, allowing an MK toe to intercept. Dele Ali did the rest and the match was level at 1-1.

4. “Looking for positives? #STFC were very resolute in 1st half + counter attacked well again. Smith rounded keeper, almost 2 up! Obika bright.”

Much like at Chesterfield on Tuesday night, Cooper’s men had to soak up plenty of first half pressure from their hosts. And much like at Chesterfield, Swindon did this very well in the first half – restricting MK to two Benik Afobe headers, wide of each post. The counter attacking threat was Town’s main outlet and as well as producing Obika’s opening goal, Michael Smith was presented with a golden opportunity to put Swindon two-nil up. Smith latched onto a through ball and tried to round David Martin in the MK goal to no avail. On reflection Smith might have shot past Martin rather than trying to navigate around him.

Special word for ‘Super’ Jon Obika who worked his socks off and put his two horror misses at Chesterfield behind him as he notched his 6th goal in Swindon colours. His link up playing coming short for the ball was good again but the most notable improvement in his game at MK was his tracking back, winning the ball on several occasions in his own half.

5. “Turnbull + N.Thompson magnificent for #STFC otherwise it could/should have been 3/4 for MK. Stephens lack of pace on right of 3 a big issue!”

When you’re playing with a back three, you can’t afford to carry passengers and luckily for Jack Stephens, he had the magnificent Nathan Thompson and Jordan Turnbull playing to his left. Wes Foderingham too, deserves plaudits for stopping MK from increasing their lead in a helter-skelter final period of the game. Foderingham made a good block with his chest in the 89th minute but his save from Ali in the third minute of stoppage time was super human! Prior to this, Swindon had flung bodies in the way of other efforts from Grigg and Potter. There was certainly no indication that Town, led by Nathan Thompson, had thrown in the towel.

6. “Rough with the smooth re: Stephens. Brilliant at bringing ball out from the back – looks a central-midfielder to me. Branco fit soon please?”

7. “Stephens not helped by playing on the right of 3 because Byrne is so attacking + Stephens dragged into right back. MK played on it! #STFC

I’d like to tackle tweets six and seven in one go. If i was giving marks out of ten for yesterday, Stephens would have got 4/10 for defending and 8/10 for going forward from the back. There was one passage of play in the second half where Stephens nut-megged a ‘Dons’ defender on the edge of their own box to put himself through on goal. It was brilliant play and unfortunately the move came to nothing when Stephens and Obika went to strike the same ball – the end result being a tame shot straight at David Martin, a real let off for MK.

The excellent Daniel Powell on the left wing gave Stephens a torrid time. Jack’s lack of pace isn’t his fault but so long as Swindon play with the uber-attacking Byrne at right wing back and Stephens on the right of the back three, this problem of space to be exposed down Swindon’s right is going to be exploited over and over again. Poor old Stephens didn’t know when to engage Powell when he was running at him, the end result being that Stephens would back off and back off – leading to many MK Dons chances particularly in the second half when the game got stretched.

While Stephens had a mare, we mustn’t over look the fact that he received so little support from his colleagues, the flip side of giving Byrne so much license to attack down the right. A reasonable tactical change yesterday might have been to push Nathan Thompson to the right of the back three and move Stephens to sweeper, a place where I think he’d thrive. As i touched on in my tweets, Stephens looks like a central midfielder to me and his manager Ronald Koeman at Southampton certainly used him in that position in pre-season. Food for thought…

8. “Has it been announced how many #STFC fans were at MK today? Those at home listening on radio, could you hear us?”

I won’t dwell on it too much but the following of 1,292 to Milton Keynes yesterday was fantastic to see, it’s our second biggest ever following to MK (see table below). With an FA Cup trip to Cheltenham to come next Saturday, that’ll make it four 1,000 plus followings in a month – Leyton Orient, Yeovil Town, MK Dons and Cheltenham. Well done Reds, keep it up!

Year Number of STFC fans
2005 1,550
2014 1,292
2008 1,203
2010 1,133
2007 961

9. “Hate to comment on referees (not why we lost) but he had a shocker. Can someone explain how a free kick given against Kasim at end?! #STFC

I’ve already touched on referee Eddie Ilderton’s inability to book Anthony Kay in the first half but the rest of his general refereeing performance was baffling. I’m not going to pin any blame for the result on the referee; it’s not an excuse, more of a comment. Mark Cooper bit his tongue when asked about Mr. Ilderton’s display after the match and it was very interesting to hear that Cooper received an apology from the referee’s association in the week. That’s something I suppose, perhaps it was a psychic apology in advance!

But the referee’s display was best summed up by the puzzling decision to award a free-kick against Yaser Kasim in the 90th minute. After a loose touch on the edge of the MK box, Kasim stabbed the ball through to Andy Williams on the left wing before Kasim was clattered into by an MK Dons defender. Williams was about to bear down on goal in what would have a great chance for Town to equalise, the end result – an MK Dons free kick, relieving all the pressure.

10. “Chin up Reds – big BIG game vs Preston to come at County Ground on Tues night. They also lost today, win that + back in top 2 mix! #STFC

I think it’s important to end on a positive note, for this was a decent Swindon Town performance and there’s no shame in admitting that we were beaten by the better team. On a couple of pivotal moments did this match hinge, Michael Smith could have put Town two goals to the good and both MK goals will be deemed avoidable when the Swindon players watch the game back on Monday morning. I’ll be able to comment better after I’ve seen the Preston game on Tuesday night, but I think that MK Dons have got all the tools in their locker to achieve automatic promotion alongside Bristol City this season.

Town remain a young side that are brilliant on their day with some polishing required around the edges. The recruitment of a right sided centre-half or the speedy return of Raphael Rossi-Branco may be required to keep the goals out against the very best teams in League One – with Preston and Bristol City up next, we’ve got a good chance to test that theory.

Follow Daniel Hunt on Twitter – @dphunt88

Washbag Podcast: Episode 36 – Things are going well, for once..

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Episode #36 of TheWashbag.com Swindon Town FC Podcast is now available to download…

Host Ron Smith is joined by a panel of four guests to discuss latest events at the County Ground – Link Sport’s Sam Morshead, Alex Cooke, Daniel Hunt and Iain Watkins.

With no game this weekend and a welcome break, the five review the opening two months to Town’s 2014/15 season. Expectations have shifted from relegation or mediocrity to promotion, or at least giving a solid account of ourselves in the division. The main topics include the moments of the season; player of the season to date; the factors against Town maintaining their current form; and a welcome news of contracts being extended to at least one player, potentially more.

Also with Sam on the podcast it’s a welcome time to ask why he left the Swindon Advertiser, plus we look at the new ticket initiative and the forthcoming matches.

The next podcast will probably return in a fortnight after the Rochdale and Colchester United games.

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

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Listen now…

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Barnsley 0-3 Swindon Town: Cooper’s Kids Can Achieve…

2014.09.27 Barnsley

‘Cooper’s Kids’ demolished ‘Wilson’s Workmanlike’ Barnsley with a clinical second half display at Oakwell. Record seeker Jonathan Obika, the oldest Swindon starter at 24 years old, was forced off with a shoulder injury after 19 minutes but we needn’t have worried as the excellent Nathan Byrne bagged himself a goal and an assist to set up the comfortable 3-0 Town win, writes Daniel Hunt.

A goalless, almost chanceless first half gave way to frantic second half as both teams went in search of victory for different reasons at each end of the League One table. Mark ‘Cooper’s Kids’ currently occupy third place on 18 points; with a game in hand on Bristol City and Peterborough United above them. Our former manager Danny Wilson certainly has a job on his hands to turn Barnsley’s fortunes round – they huffed and puffed but were as poor as any side seen this season.

The experienced Barnsley centre-back pairing of Jean-Yves M’Voto and Welsh international Lewin Nyatanga were capable in the air but very susceptible to balls down the side of them – something the Swindon midfield manipulated as the game wore on. The less said about left back Joe Dudgeon the better; he had a torrid afternoon against Byrne, a dreadful performance.

It seems laughable that Byrne was a pre-match injury doubt. The more cynical amongst you will argue that Byrne’s ‘dead leg’ at Newport was a mechanism for working round the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy competition rules. However yesterday came too soon for fellow injury victims Raphael Rossi-Branco and Brad Smith. This meant that new Birmingham City loanee Amari’i Bell and Jack Stephens returned to the side, while Andy Williams and Jake Reeves had to settle for places on the bench despite their respective midweek exploits at Rodney Parade.

When I referenced ‘Cooper’s Kids’ earlier in this article, I wasn’t throwing around terms willy-nilly. Yesterday’s starting eleven was the 19th youngest Swindon Town starting eleven ever by average age. That’s from 5,409 competitive matches played in Town’s entire 135 year history – to put that into further context, that’s in the top half a percentile. You’ll see from the above table that ‘Cooper’s Kids’ are in good company, wedged in alongside some of the finest Swindon elevens in history, dubbed as ‘Bert’s Babes’. A side containing Ernie Hunt (my second cousin), Don Rogers, John Trollope and Bobby Woodruff to name but four starlets.

The youngest Swindon Town starting elevens by average age – supplied by www.swindon-town-fc.co.uk

The youngest Swindon Town starting elevens by average age – supplied by http://www.swindon-town-fc.co.uk

19 year old Louis Thompson has already secured a lucrative move to Premier League bound Norwich City and it begs the question of how many more of this current Swindon Town crop will go on to grace the upper echelons of English football? Wes Foderingham, Nathan Thompson, Nathan Byrne, Yaser Kasim and Massimo Luongo can all harbour realistic dreams of football stardom in future. And what of Swindon’s next batch of young footballers – they won 1-0 at Bristol Rovers yesterday morning to stay top of their Youth Alliance league. Stratton born Ryan Wood with the winning goal from a Lee Marshall assist. The future’s bright, the future’s red and white…

Like their Under-18 counterparts, Swindon Town’s first team also kept a clean sheet, only their second of the season, but this wasn’t a difficult task in a first half best described as a non-event. Michael Smith had Town’s best chance when slipped in to the right hand channel but his low effort was tipped round the post by former Chelsea ‘keeper Ross Turnbull. The best effort Barnsley could muster was an M’Voto volley from a left sided set piece but after striking the ball into the ground, the ball looped comfortably over Wes Foderingham’s goal frame.

Jack Stephens looked like a bloke feeling his way back into the fold, enduring a rusty first half in which he was booked for a tug on Manchester City loanee Devante Cole, son of ex-Newcastle and Manchester United striker Andrew Cole. Young Cole was the Barnsley player to watch according to a Barnsley fan we spoke to before the match but aside from having pace in abundance, Cole was unimpressive and wasteful in front of goal. Epitomised by the chance he spurned early in the second half when put through by a simple long ball. Foderingham closed the angle well at his near post and Cole tamely stroked the ball with his weaker foot at Foderingham’s legs.

Much to the neutral’s delight, the second half was a much more open affair and despite having to clear a Conor Hourihane shot off the line at 0-0, this suited a Swindon side brimming with pace down the right hand side in Byrne and Williams, Obika’s first half replacement following his unfortunate injury. Before the opening goal in the 58th minute, hard-working Michael Smith had a golden opportunity to put Swindon ahead but couldn’t get the ball out from under his feet quickly enough. Another Nathan, this time Thompson, also had a surging run and shot pushed wide by Turnbull as Town cranked up the pressure.

Mark Cooper revealed after the game that Nathan Byrne had been taking flak from all angles (Manager, Mum, Dad, etc!) about his lack of goals recently, so it was fitting that the Barnsley defence should part like the red sea to allow Byrne to tip-toe his way into the box before finishing to the right hand corner with aplomb. The 453 Swindon fans had already been in good voice but now they really had something to shout about…

2014.09.27 STFC fans at Barnsley

The goal meant that the game became even more stretched and this played into the hands of the slippery Andy Williams who had three bites at the cherry at 1-0 to increase Town’s lead. Williams’ close range effort forced a reaction save out of Turnbull, an audacious chip was tipped over by Turnbull and finally Williams should have done much better with a near post flicked header that went wide of the far post.

In a Mark Cooper tactical masterstroke, Jake ‘REEEEEEEEEVES’ was sent to warm-up in front of the travelling fans and new chant was born. Moments later, the alice-banded Reeves replaced a tiring Louis Thompson and he didn’t have to wait long for Nathan Byrne to set him up a chance on a plate. Reeves duly tapped in from 3-4 yards and the victory was sealed in the 82nd minute.

To compound the Oakwell misery, Barnsley gifted the ball away straight from the restart and this allowed Michael Smith to gallop clear down the right hand side. Showing that it’s not only Nathan Byrne who can whip in a right wing centre, Smith fired the ball across goal where a Barnsley interception went straight to Andy Williams for 3-0. That makes it six goals this season for the former Yeovil Town man – a great return from a serious knee injury.

Full time, Town win by three, perhaps it was a slightly flattering scoreline but Barnsley simply didn’t do enough at the right end of the pitch. Danny Wilson didn’t face the post match press, assistant manager Chris Hutchings took up the mantle instead. Like Nigel Clough the Saturday before this, Hutchings admitted that Barnsley had set up to try and combat Swindon playing the ball out of the back. Like Sheffield United the Saturday before this, Barnsley’s game plan was a waste of time as Swindon eased past their unimaginative hosts with a brilliant second half display.

By their own high standards, the midfield three of Luongo, Kasim and Louis Thompson were quiet and efficient. Jordan Turnbull and Nathan Thompson were supremely comfortable on the ball, which helped Jack Stephens grow in stature as the game went on. Amari’i Bell looks like an astute acquisition from Birmingham and he will provide stiff competition for Brad Smith at left-wing back. Bell is strong, quick and more physical than Brad Smith; I would suggest that Bell could do a useful job as the left sided centre-half in the back three if required.

That fellow pre-season promotion favourites, such as Sheffield United and Barnsley, are trying to nullify Swindon before a ball is even kicked is a massive compliment to the job that Mark Cooper and Lee Power are doing at the County Ground. That Swindon are still able to blast eight goals past these two teams is even more telling.

Curb your optimism Dan!

While I had thought “We haven’t got the squad to sustain this start as the winter months take their toll” to myself back in August, the ranks have swelled and the signings of Stephens, Reeves, Obika and Bell have significantly improved the squad. They can’t can they..?

‘Cooper’s Kids’ can!

Follow Daniel Hunt on Twitter – @dphunt88

STFC Podcast: Episode 25 – Does a Wembley final await..?

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Episode #25 of TheWashbag.com Swindon Town FC Podcast is now available to download…

Host Ron Smith is joined by Town fans Daniel Hunt and Iain Watkins.

What is it about Swindon Town? Previously dominant as hosts and we could expect at least two goals per game, but now games against Oldham and Colchester have seen Town goalless and only one point to the good. On the plus side, the away form has improved and, of course, we are potentially 90 minutes from a trip to Wembley for the JPT final…

The three review the goalless draw with Colchester, the impact of Nile Ranger’s injury and a lack of striking options, they ask can Town build on that fantastic comeback versus the Posh to ensure a third trip to Wembley in four years? Also they look at the implications of a raise in season ticket prices.

The next podcast returns in a few 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

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