Swindon 1 Southampton 3: Town dumped out of the cup

Johno’ reviews last night’s Carling Cup tie. Our views on where next for Leon Clarke coming up shortly.

Out of the cup so let’s concentrate on the league. It might be an old cliché but one that is a famous phrase for a reason. A dramatic night at the County Ground nearly covered up our Carling Cup exit but on the pitch Town suffered a 3-1 defeat at the hands of a very good Southampton.

The Leon Clarke Saga can be dwelt on by others but the performance last night was again a real contrast in either half. The result wasn’t important going into the game but a decent performance was. If we could go out fighting it would be an encouragement but that isn’t the feeling we left with.

Swindon fought hard in the second half and looked a completely different side to the one in the first 45 minutes. We had energy and tried harder which might be simple but it at least shows a good mentality in the side to fight back.

Swindon made two changes from Saturday with Alan Connell and Alberto Comazzi starting in place of Raffaele De Vita and Joe Devera. The changes were expected ones but in the early going showed little difference to the side that finished at Shrewsbury.

Southampton instantly showed their class with free flowing passing, good movement and high energy. It was too no surprise that Swindon couldn’t create a sniff of a chance or an attacking move in the early going as Southampton’s first chance came through Adam Lallana as the creative winger shot wide on 10 minutes.

However, six minutes later former Town loanee Lee Holmes played a part in putting the visitors ahead. His cross found the unmarked Guly Do Prado who had the simple task of heading in.

Nigel Adkins side continued to dominate and ensured a big ask for Swindon to make it through by making it 2-0. A shot from striker Jonathan Forte managed to squirm its way under Phil Smith just to add to the frustration of the first half.

Town did create two decent openings before the end of the half as firstly, striker Leon Clarke was unable to find an opportunity to shoot and possession was lost as well as a cross that Aden Flint just couldn’t get his foot onto.

A surprise substitution saw the introduction of Medhi Kerrouche for Alan Connell. An assumption to make would be that Kerrouche was brought on due to an injury to Connell but that has yet to be confirmed.

The second half saw a new look Swindon with movement and passion to break down their championship opponents. On 49 minutes a cross from Callum Kennedy found the head of Clarke whose effort was a whisker away from reducing the deficit.

Etienne Esajas was then introduced in the place of Lander Gabilondo, which may not have gone down as a popular choice amongst many of the town faithful, but Esajas added to town efforts as his long range effort tested the palms of the Saints keeper.

Di Canio’s men continued to press but couldn’t break down a strong Southampton backline and it took until the 84 minute for Town to get a deserved goal for their second half display. A free kick from just outside the area by sub Kerrouche bent round the wall and found the top corner.

Extra time then became a possibility as Swindon stayed the front foot and things could have been so different as a cross found Clarke but he couldn’t get the ball over the saints keeper from two yards as it went behind for a corner.

Town struggled to find the energy to get back into the game after that big chance was missed and Southampton wrapped up the game as Rickie Lambert scored a third. The striker tossed Aden Flint off him and rounded Phil Smith to tap into an empty net to leave the town faithful walking for the exits along with a way out of the Carling Cup.

It was a disappointing night at SN1 but not one that should have brought about the reactions of many Swindon fans. It has been a slow start to a season that looked like it would just bring us a championship at ease but that isn’t how football works.

League Two is a tough league and Di Canio is still building a side that consists of many new players. There are still things the players need to improve on and Di Canio would probably say he is still learning.

Being out of the Carling Cup isn’t a big deal, it’s if we lose again on Saturday that’s the big deal.

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