Swindon 0 Brentford 1: Single Bee Sting Sinks Un-reliant Robins
The Swindon starting XI saw three changes from the team which beat Yeovil on Saturday with Martin replacing the injured Williams, Hollands replacing Bostock and McCormack making way for Nathan Thompson reports STFC007.
Tonight’s floodlit game also saw the return of the former Swindon Town captain Jonathan Douglas, who, other than a harsh challenge on his former team-mate Ferry – for which he saw yellow, was generally invisible but effective in the Brentford midfield. Despite a few half-hearted boos initially, he did receive the loudest cheer of the night – when he scuffed his shot well wide from outside the box.
But whatever happened to Fortress County Ground, last season’s impenetrable stronghold providing the basis of Swindon Town’s League One Championship winning form. Based on the number of teams that have left here with points so far this season, the fortress now rather seems to resemble a few sorry looking leaky tents at a peace rally.
It was clear from the start that Brentford had set themselves up for a draw flooding the midfield, trying to prevent Swindon to build up from the back and at the same time keeping the Swindon wingers quiet. Their game plan worked as they left Wiltshire with all 3 points getting on level points in the League One table with their hosts.
It could have been so different, had some of the efforts on goal been with more conviction and in some cases with more composure. When playing at home, scoring first seems to become more and more important as Swindon seems unable to break teams down once they get behind as was proved again tonight.
The start of the first half was messy with most of the battle taking place in midfield and the Swindon Team using the long ball tactics again, despite Martin clearly more comfortable and dangerous when the ball is played in his feet.
While Brentford were limited in the first half to one shot on goal which was well saved by Foderingham, some goals scoring opportunities for Swindon did arise. A goal-line scramble somehow did not end up in the back of the Brentford net instead being cleared with an overhead kick.
There were half chances with the ball just ending up behind Collins during his run into the box and Ferry ending up with the ball on his weaker left side when entering the penalty area after another poorly executed short corner as well as Brentford’s keeper Moore saving well from Martin’s shot.
Swindon started the second half brightly trying to up the tempo and trying to dictate the game.
Storey came on for Collins to add some pace upfront. But rather than exploiting this speed advantage, the number of long balls over the defence for Storey to chase were limited to just 2 after he came on, in sharp contrast to the first half when especially at the start most balls were long.
With Swindon trying to add impetus in the attack, a quick ball over caught out the Town defence. Initially a lack of closing down saw a ball delivered into the box which was not dealt with by Thompson and Donaldson gave Foderingham no chance as he rattled the ball into the back of the net. 0-1.
The 548 traveling Brentford supporters were in good voice after the goal, although their enunciation was preventing me and those around me from understanding what they were singing all evening.
Stand-in captain Ferry – who looked lethargic in the second half – made way for Bostock with the captain’s armband ending up with McEveley and an ineffective Roberts was replaced with loanee Adam Rooney. Swindon were now on top but were unable to break the Brentford defence down despite more crosses entering the Bees box.
It could have been all over when it seemed that Brentford’s Hayes was through on goal, only to be prevented from scoring by a ditch double tackle from the sponsor’s Man of the Match McEveley.
Swindon did deserve more out of the game and was presented with a gold plated chance to end up with at least one point. A Ritchie cross found the unmarked Martin whose half diving header cross goal missed the target. The added 5+ minutes of injury (read: time-wasting) time made for a tense finale but Brentford held on for the win.
With most other teams at the top of the table drawing their game, Swindon have 5 teams above them and 18 teams below them in the table. If we can change our fortunes at home and transform Tent City into Fortress County Ground again, we will have much to look forward to for the remainder of the campaign.