Not Supermarine, a Super-Town in the making..?
With a first opportunity for the Swindon public to witness Di Canio in the flesh a bumper crowd swelled the football ground attached to a bungalow, delaying the kick-off for 15 minutes, a rarity for a pre-season friendly.
The match was largely a game of ‘guess who?’. With ten signings already to his name, Di Canio was able to field the unrecognisables, and for some supporters, the unpronounceables. Some unable to even grasp Smith, let alone try to pronounce Esajas or Kerrouche…
With the exception of the injured Lanzano and Risser, five new arrivals – Devera, Comazzi, Smith, De Vita and Connell – started, then Cibocchi, Kerrouche, Esajas and Atiku were all given second half chances to impress.
With two games and a hatful of goals already under their belts, many expected another comprehensive victory last night. Town certainly delivered a controlled, if perhaps an unspectacular game, punctuated by swift Town counters, good link up play and three sublime finishes from Jonathan Smith, Etienne Asajas and Callum Kennedy.
It was Smith’s goal after 13 minutes that, if continued, shows to me what this team could be capable of. With Town comfortable in possession, De Vita and new signing Connell passed the ball around well, before Simon Ferry laid on the ball to the tall Jonathan Smith, who confidently took one touch to open up space and fired a well placed shot into the bottom left corner past Supermarine keeper James Rae. Such deftness of touch, patience and control to exploit the middle was lacking throughout last season and was a welcome sight.
As for my first impressions of some of Di Canio’s other new signings. Commazi was commanding despite his relatively short height and vocal throughout with his accent transporting us to Italy for the evening. Connell lacked the fitness and didn’t really get into the game, obvious as he’s only recently joined. Esajas scored a great goal and loves to cut in field and run at defenders, yet frustrates with his wayward long distance shots well wide of the mark. Kerrouche will turn out to be a strong figurehead for the attack, good in the air and able to lay off balls to the supporting midfield. I didn’t really get a good view of Atiku as he was on the far side of the pitch so I couldn’t really comment and Cibocchi wasn’t on the pitch for long enough to really make an impression.
In the end, despite the obvious Di Canio hype this game delivered the same as all other pre-season Swindon games against Supermarine. It was no different to the 3-0 win achieved under Wilson last year, or the 3-2 win back in 2009. In all these games Town dominated the first half, raced to a comfortable lead, only to then take their foot off the gas in the second half, and rightly so.
It is easy to describe the games so far as convincing and emphatic given the results achieved, but don’t yet get carried away as there are harder tests to come.