One Town goal, two huddles and three points lost

I didn’t travel to Essex to watch Town at Colchester, so a big thanks to regular Washbag contributor STFC007 for his thoughts and reflections on the game.

After last year’s 3-0 away defeat at the hands of Colchester in their dreary stadium, I vowed that I would not return here for this season’s encounter. However, I felt quite positive all week that we could get a result despite all the negativity and decided that Town could do with as much support as possible, so I made the journey after all.

The walk to the stadium from one of the business parks was just as long as last year’s, and the stadium still has this ‘nearly finished’ feel to it, not helped by the eternal building site surrounding the stadium. The four stand-alone stands make the stadium devoid of any atmosphere, made worse by a meagre 3,624 supporters, of which a couple of hundred supporting the Town sat in the only sunny spot in the stadium.

After a Town team huddle prior to kick-off, something I had not seen for a couple of seasons, they started very positive making their intentions known from the start and pinning Colchester back. Town were very unlucky not to have scored with a quickly taken shot from distance by Benyon, only tipped onto the bar by the finger tips of the stretching Cousins in the Colchester goal.

The only real danger that Colchester posed in the first half was mainly as a result of lack of pace at the back and some dangerous situations of our own making;  Cuthbert and Rose bumped into each other but we got away with that one, but whilst Frampton was struggling to hold off a Colchester player making a run into the box, the bouncing ball hit Frampton’s arm. Most Swindon supporters nor the linesman could not see the infringement, but the referee who was in a good position pointed at the spot. Mooney sent Lucas the wrong way and against the run of play we were 1-0 down.

For a period after the goal, some restlessness crept into Swindon’s game where the long ball up to the sometimes isolated front two was used rather than the midfield passing game.

Timlin’s excellent recent performances, which kept Ferry out of the team, were not matched during the first half. He looked out-of-sorts and struggled to keep up with the pace. But Town continued their domination with some very nice combinations but any quality of a final pass was preventing a break-through; either way, Town were unfortunate to go into the dressing room at half time a solitary goal behind.

After the break, Town stepped up a gear and for long periods were dominating the game. The equaliser, when it came, was well deserved.

Cuthbert reacted quickest after a corner was only partially dealt with by the keeper and headed the ball into the net. Cuthbert’s outburst of emotions with him beating the logo on his shirt running towards the Swindon supporters was only part of the story. All players ran towards him and joined the celebrations dispelling any rumors of a split dressing room, or the team not being up for it.

Not long after his goal, Cuthbert nearly scored again with a header only for man-of-the match Colchester keeper Cousins making a fully outstretched dive to keep the ball flying into the top corner.

Swindon continued to press, but the quality of the final pass continued to fail them; overshot free-kicks and wayward crosses adding to the frustration.

The referee, Mr Salisbury, played his part as well, as referees have done in so many of Town’s games this season. The inconsistency of his decisions and lack of vision to read the game makes it unlikely he ever played the game at any reasonable level. And supporters can’t always be wrong as both sets sung their disapproval of his decisions several times during the game; he was poor, very poor.

Bringing the play back to the centre circle after an infringement whilst Obika was off clear on goal was careless, but not giving a clear cut handball in the box after giving a penalty to the home team in the first half shows a level of poor decision making. Town are more likely to reach the play-offs than Mr Salisbury ever to referee a Premier League game.

Even though play became more open towards the end of the game, and Colchester had a few chances, Swindon’s domination deserved a winning goal. Instead a loose ball after a corner was mis-hit by Gillespie and flew into the back of the net, 2-1 Colchester. Dossevi came close to a late equaliser, but his shot went just wide.

There were many positives, especially during the second half; a robust and confident performance from a returning Lucas in goal, a great willingness to win from all players and a belief from both players and supporters that has been missing for quite some time. There was also an increased togetherness illustrated by a second huddle instigated by Lucas after a short break in play following an injury.

Despite the precarious position in he table and wayward form both home and away, I am confident that if the same work-rate and desire is displayed during the remaining games, Town will pick up enough points to secure our League One safety.

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If anyone else would be interested to contribute a match report or your reflections on the goings-on at the County Ground, then please feel free to contact me at thewashbag@gmail.com or @thewashbag

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