Hartlepool Utd 0 Swindon 0: Not Miller time
Swindon got their League One campaign under way with a 0-0 draw at the faraway Victoria Park. It was poor finishing from both sides that contributed to the goalless draw, more so than good defending, writes Rosie MacGillivray.
Paul Caddis was once more left out the squad, as him and Paolo Di Canio still refusing to kiss and make up. Miles Storey made way for James Collins on the subs bench; as otherwise, Di Canio kept faith with the team, who thumped Brighton four days earlier.
An early dominant spell was followed up by a nervy one. A Jay McEveley back pass nearly made it in the path of Steve Howard, leaving a panicked Wes Foderingham to pass straight to Hartlepool’s Anthony Sweeney. Only a tame shot allowed Foderingham to scramble back in time.
Andy Monkhouse found himself unmarked in the box, but much to the delight of the travelling fans, he slipped at the vital moment, allowing Jay McEveley to redeem himself with a clearance.
Town continued to struggle as they failed to string more than two or three passes together, with only Tommy Miller really showing a calm head. Troy Archibald-Henville’s distribution was particularly disappointing, especially given his ability on the ball he had shown during pre-season.
Hartlepool had every right to feel hard done by as Foderingham rushed out to retrieve the ball, but only by bringing Sweeney down first. From my view at least, it looked stonewall.
Di Canio’s half time team talk didn’t have the same effect as it did against Brighton, as Swindon started the second-half, as they had finished the first. Steven Howard was left free in the box, from an Evan Horwood free-kick and only the post denied the striker.
On 71 minutes, Swindon were given the golden opportunity to travel back to Wiltshire with all three points, as Peter Hartley handled in the box. Tommy Miller – who had a career record of missing one in 34 – opted to take the penalty in the absence of regular spot-kick taker, Paul Caddis.
It therefore, felt someone inevitable that his penalty would sail over the bar, as Swindon waved goodbye to a realistic chance of scoring. The only saving grace was that it wasn’t high enough to hit my car sat in the car park.
As a consequence of poor passing and our uncharacteristic hoof-ball method, both Paul Benson and Andy Williams were starved of any worthwhile service. In a bid to change this, Luke Rooney, Simon Ferry and James Collins were all on by the 68th minute, replacing Raffaele De Vita, Alan Navarro and Paul Benson respectively.
Without the assistance his right-hand man, Caddis, Matt Ritchie had a frustrating afternoon, with him often trying to take on the Hartlepool defence alone, when perhaps, picking out a team-mate was the better option.
Williams had found himself one-on-one on the edge of the box, with Ritchie simply needing to supply a short, weighted pass instead of opted to take on two men, without success. Collins also had a good opportunity to break the deadlock, as he takes on a Rooney cross-field pass, but somewhat snatched at the opportunity, as his shot went well wide.
In the dying minutes, Williams showed great determination to chase down a lost cause on the right-flank. His turn of pace allowed him to ease past the Hartlepool defender, cut inside for a shot, which sadly didn’t match the quality of his run.
Against the cliché of a goalless draw, it was an end-to-end game, which Swindon could have won. But likewise, Hartlepool could have grabbed all three points. It was a steady, if not spectacular way to start the season.
With no less than seven signings, it’s inevitable that more playing time together will ensure our play flows much more than it did on Saturday. A point away is a good foundation to build on this week, as we play two games at our fortress County Ground this week.