Bristol R 1 Swindon 1: Rovers snatch a share of the derby spoils
A late equaliser from Rovers defender Danny Woodards prevented Town from taking all three points back to SN1 in what was a rather dull derby day on the pitch. Andrew Steele-Davis was there to report.
Swindon were going into this game on a high having booked themselves a rather tasty tie against Wigan at home in the FA Cup and only being two games away from Wembley having dispatched of Southend in the JPT. Add to that thirteen games unbeaten, Swindon were certainty confident of improving their recent poor record at the Memorial Stadium.
Bristol meanwhile, despite thrashing non-league AFC Totton 6-1 in the FA Cup last week and as a result earning a lucrative home tie against Aston Villa in the third round, were in poor form in the league, lying in sixteenth place before the game.
Swindon made a couple of changes to the side who won at Southend in mid-week, Simon Ferry coming back into the starting eleven after illness and Mehdi Kerrouche earning a surprise re-call to start up front alongside the ever improving Lukas Magera. Raffaele De Vita also returned to replace the suspended Matt Ritchie.
Bristol opened the game in explosive fashion, nearly opening the scoring after just 30 seconds. A through ball to Bristol’s dangerman Matt Harrold saw the big striker take the ball pass Aden Flint but ‘Super Wesley Foderingham’ was quick to come out and claim the ball.
Craig Stanley forced Foderingham into another save minutes later, his free-kick forcing the on-loan Palace keeper to get down low. Town had a golden opportunity to open the scoring themselves after just seven minutes, De Vita’s cross evading the Bristol defence but Lander Gabilondo could not add the crucial touch that would have seen the ball hit the back of the net.
Scott Bevan, the giant of a goalkeeper in the Rover’s goal then got down well to turn a Flint header around the post as the visitors began to assert their authority on the game. And Swindon did get the opening goal after just 38 minutes, Paul Caddis slaloming through a sea of Bristol players having picked up the ball in his own half before unleashing a thunderbolt into the bottom left hand corner.
However, Town could not improve on that lead in the second half, with Bristol having the better of the play. Gabilondo should have made it 2-0 but he opted to shoot with his right foot rather than his left meaning that Bevan had an easy save to make.
Town sat back far too much and conceded too many free kicks as Rovers chased the equaliser. Town looked vulnerable at left-back with Cibocchi having an alarmingly bad game. The Italian left back – who replaced the injured Liam Ridehalgh – made an incredible four foul throws throughout the game, which is probably an unwanted club record, although we’ve yet to find any statistics to confirm this.
All of Bristol’s pressure paid off in the 87th minute when defender Dan Woodards rose highest at the far post to head home a Craig Stanley free-kick and rescue a point for the home side.
Despite conceding a late equaliser, Town fans must see this point as a point gained at a ground where Swindon have struggled in recent years. The unbeaten run is still going and Swindon will look to get back to winning ways next week at home to Morecambe.
Post match, all the talking was about Paolo Di Canio’s explosive interview, which was unable to be broadcast live on BBC Wiltshire due to the sheer number of expletives.
The players came in for a proper roasting as the furious boss once again questioned their desire, passion and fight. Clearly Di Canio had expected the derby to inspire his side so much more and been left disappointed, particularly at how Rovers were allowed to snatch the late equaliser.
In calling for Jeremy Wary to make funds available for ‘four or five new players’ and importantly letting out his frustrations by saying he would reconsider his future if he didn’t have the resources to deliver his ambitions, Di Canio again admits mistakes in his hasty, agent induced transfer strategy over the summer.
As a club limited by resources, sat within the fourth tier of English football and subject to a salary cap, more of Paolo’s passionless poor performers need to be found a new club before the extravagance of four or five new players would join.
We’ll all have to wait to see whether there is any fallout from Di Canio’s outburst, whether on the pitch next weekend or through another busy transfer window.