Swindon 3-0 Crewe: A tale of two halves
Scot Munroe reports on the opening League Two encounter at the County Ground as Town finish 3-0 winners over Crewe Alexandra.
It could’ve been a different story at the County ground this afternoon as visitors Crewe Alexandra completely dominated the first half. An earlier nervous and edgy Swindon later rallied to take the spoils with a dominating display in the last quarter providing Paolo Di Canio with his maiden victory.
The away team controlled much of the early exchanges and really should’ve taken the lead 6 minutes into the game when Phil Smith denied both David Artell and Shaun Miller with a fantastic double save. Just ten minutes later Crewe should’ve taken the lead as Joe Devera dallied on the ball and slipped over giving the opportunity to Nick Powell on route on goal. Fortunately Phil Smith and Aden Flint blocked the striker’s attempts on goal. Swindon were living dangerously and really should’ve been behind and chasing the game.
After being on the back foot Swindon managed to foray in to the visitors half after a neat passing move as Callum Kennedy crossed in for Matt Ritchie who headed over well off target. Crewe then wasted a golden chance to open the scoring as Joe Devera’s weak header was picked up by Nick Powell who found Danny Shelley, but from 8 yards out he fired well over the bar when it was easier to score. The lively Danny Shelly then had a 25 yard free kick which was fired just wide of the post as Phil Smith looked stranded.
Town then fought back before the break as Steve Phillips in the Crewe goal was tested for the first time as Michael Timlin sliced effort was brilliant tipped over. From the resulting corner the veteran keeper managed to save Billy Bodin’s side footed effort. Then on the run of play and on the stroke of half time, Swindon got the chance to take the lead. Billy Bodin latched on to a Raffaele De Vita through ball and was bundled over in the area by David Artell. The referee pointed to the spot. Callum Kennedy stepped up and sent Steve Phillips the wrong way to give Swindon an unlikely 1-0 lead.
Swindon started a lot better in the second period and must have got a real dressing down by Paolo Di Canio. The best early chance came after Michael Timlin crossed in from the left hand side where Matt Ritchie headed wide. As for Crewe, the dangerous Byron Moore showed some pace and trickery as he danced around Callum Kennedy, with his effort on goal deflected just wide of the post.
On the hour the second goal of the game was of the highest quality from the new captain Oliver Risser. As Crewe failed to clear a Swindon attack the ball fell to Risser with the crowd shouting shoot and he did with a fantastic half volley into the top corner. A goal which could’ve graced the highest level.
As the game was drifting along Swindon came into their own and nearly added a third as substitute Alan McCormack crossed in for the dangerous Matt Ritchie who headed over the bar when it was easier to score. But Swindon eventually added the third and killed the game off as a contest as Aden Flint nodded home from close range to ensure the three points.
On another day this game could have swung completely the other way. The first half Swindon were very nervy on the ball and sat back too deep. With Crewe failing to take their chances Town finally made them pay with a solid second half display. With Bristol City away in the League Cup on Tuesday an upset might be on the cards.
Header photo from swindontownfc.co.uk
Di Canio had made so much talk of the team working as playing as one unit yet for the first 40 minutes the Swindon players looked like they had only met for the first time in the dressing room before the game. So we can definitely count ourselves very fortunate that Crewe’s poor finishing didn’t see them race to a 2 or 3 goal led in the first half. Last season the opposition’s chances would have gone in, however perhaps a sign of the season to come, luck was on our side.
Bodin impressed and deserved his start. If only he could improve his positioning and get into better positions then he’ll make a real impact this season and hopefully get his first goal for us. Whether Bodin should be sent out on loan to improve I’m not sure and would rather see him continue to learn at Town.
Flint was immense with a quality defensive performance I’ve not seen for a while. Begging the question why he wasn’t given his chance towards the end of last season instead of returning to Alfreton on loan.
After that performance we’re top of the league, let’s hope we can stay there all season…