Town v Notts County: League Two here we come
What an utterly embarrassing defeat and in the process we now have our worst run of home results since the 1901/1902 season. Yes that’s 109 long years during which the County Ground hasn’t witnessed football this bad and ineffective.
For a club that less than 12 months ago were 90 minutes and a Charlie Austin finish from playing in the Championship this has been a dismal turnaround of events. Relegation to League Two is now a certainty all bar the ‘R’ adjacent to the club’s name on the league table.
The match itself started well enough with Town controlling the initial passages of play. Then an early Matt Ritchie goal created out of nothing from JP McGovern was just the tonic, a lead to defend and something to build on.
Scoring first has been a rarity for Town this season and after taking the lead I hope we’d fully commit to taking charge of the game and get another. However as has been the story so often this season we were comfortable in possession but couldn’t make it pay.
Calvin Andrew was ineffective throughout. After being too slow to react to get his shot away in the first half after rounding the keeper, he was widely applauded after winning a header for the first time, that’s about all he did after the break.
From looking strong to throwing away a goal advantage with two soft goals simply handed to Notts County isn’t fighting to stay in this division. The manner of our defeat was humiliating.
So after a deserved goal and no noticeable issues Paul Hart interfered, making three player position changes for the start of the second half, including switching the full backs after Paul Caddis moved to right midfield.
Whilst the second half did have its moments, such as Jonathan Douglas’ magnificent long range strike hitting the cross bar, these were few and far between.
From then on it all went downhill, particularly after the introduction of the controversial Lee Hughes, at which point Hart failed to counter with changes of his own.
When Hart did decide to make a substitution it was the recently out of favour Simon Ferry who was waiting, yet a few minutes later Timlin replaced Ritchie, much to the consternation of the crowd.
In a way I’m surprised we actually managed to hold on until the 78th minute. When Alan Judge’s cross went in we fell apart, the players had nothing more to give.
The game summed up the season, individual mistakes have cost us so much, like Phil Smith’s against Hartlepool, Scott Cuthbert’s mistake was a right punch in the stomach as he was caught in possession by Hughes and easily rounded Lucas to make it 2-1.
Cue the anger in the crowd, mostly directed at Paul Hart, who appeared to give as good as he received.
In my view the match says as much about Paul Hart’s failures as the players themselves. To single out Hart is understandable, however he’s always been on a hiding to nothing in this job.
Hart certainly didn’t help endear himself to the Swindon Town supporters in his much delayed post match interview. I’ve never heard a manager talk so defensively with as little passion about the club.
As far as Hart’s future is concerned, he came to Swindon with one task, to keep us safe. He’s failed and doesn’t represent our future, so as far as I’m concerned he’d be better off leaving now. This will allow these final 3 games to provide an excellent opportunity to put Paul Bodin in charge to gain management experience before taking over permanently, or giving way to a newcomer to bring us back up at the first attempt.
It might be mathematically possible to survive in League One, however as has been the case for a very long time now we plainly don’t deserve to. League Two here we come…