Swindon 5 Portsmouth 0: Ten in Two as Town Thrash Pompey

After an extended Christmas break – with both the Leyton Orient and Colchester away matches having been called off due to a water-logged pitch – Town improved their home form as it was the turn of Pompey to be knocked for 5 without reply after league leaders Tranmere suffered a similar fate during the previous home game writes STFC007.

With Simon Ferry having had limited opportunity to train over Christmas with an ankle injury, Tommy Miller’s inclusion in the starting line-up was the only change from the Tranmere game.

The first half, in front of 11,381 spectators, was overall a lackluster affair. Raffa De Vita could not get out of second gear (after the match it was reported he had not been well) also affecting Alan McCormack on the left side whose passing and interplay was well below his usual standard.

The ever effervescent Andy Williams – normally chasing every ball – seemed a few yards off the pace whilst the centre midfield pairing of Miller and Danny Hollands were caught square too many times allowing Portsmouth to put unnecessary pressure on the Swindon’s defence.

The few chances Portsmouth had in the first half were created not only as a result of sloppy passing by Town players, but also following some good movements by their midfield. But their lack of quality upfront severely limited their ability to seriously threaten Wes Foderingham’s goal.

Scoring quickly against a team, who had only registered three points and not a single win from their last 11 League games, would have knocked the stuffing out of them and dented their already fragile confidence even further.

Williams had the chance to just do that in the 5th minute, having been put through on goal, but the Portsmouth keeper Eastwood stayed tall long enough to parry the shot aimed straight at him. The former Yeovil man had two further chances that half; his shot on 25 minutes again aimed straight at the goalkeeper and the second chance was wasted when the ball got stuck under his feet.

The 1,504 Portsmouth fans that made the trip to the County Ground were in good voice all game long. Unfortunately it wasn’t just their voice that had made the trip as The Dreaded Drum, The Kitsbühel Cow Bell and the Blasted Bugle also made an appearance. I’m sure there is a time and place for these instruments, but quite sure it’s not in a football stadium.

The second half started with De Vita making way for Gary Roberts and crowd favourite Ferry replaced Miller five minutes later. It was Ferry’s tenacity and direct play which made the change in midfield to regain possession of the ball quicker and to keep hold of it for longer.

But the missing ingredient was added in the 58th minute when James Collins came on for hard working but somewhat unlucky Chris Martin, who now looks much fitter since his debut. Collins, mostly on the bench since Martin’s arrival, took his chance in the 20 minutes that followed.

A corner from the right resulted in the usual pushing and shoving but Collins timed his run well, staying out of the melee and crept in front of his marker to nod the ball in the back of the net. His first touch of the game and Town were in front to great relief of the crowd.

His second came not long after, when a shot come cross from Hollands landed fortunately at the feet of Collins who turned and scored.

It was open season now as Portsmouth’s resolve was broken and a long diagonal pass from McCormack found Collins at the back post who chested the ball down and pulled the ball back for Hollands to smash the ball in the back of the net making it 3-0.

The fourth was very similar in its build up with McCormack floating another ball deep into Portsmouth territory, this time from the centre circle, which was well controlled by Matt Ritchie who pulled the ball back for Collins to head in his third.

The icing on the cake, and a fourth goal by Man of the Match Collins came from yet another cross from McCormack. Hollands ran into space on the left, taking with him the defender, creating time for McCormack to float in a perfect cross with his right foot, landing on the edge of the 6 yard box, with Collins nipping in between a stranded Eastwood and a hesitating defender.

Ten goals in two home games; who’d have thought that with 30 minutes left to play. The final score may have flattered Swindon somewhat, but whereas at the start of the campaign we might have lost or drawn, this time Town were able to change the game with some inspired substitutions.

Collins with his four goals in a little over 20 minutes plus an assist deserved all the plaudits, but it would be amiss not to highlight the Portsmouth fans that made the trip to the County Ground.

The uncertainty surrounding the future of their club, the lack of results on the pitch seeing their club getting ever closer to League Two football next year, many a football supporter would have stayed at home on New Years Day had their team suffered some heavy knocks; but the Portsmouth support turned up in numbers, proudly cheering on their team (even when their team were down 5-0) – all for the love of their club.

It was great to see the unconditional support for their club and wish you and your team well for the future.

Between now and the end of the season, there are still 66 points up for grabs with some people already looking ahead at Bournemouth, forgetting there are still 3 points to play for on Saturday when Carlisle are in Town. All points are equal no matter against which team they are gained or lost.

Also, we still have to play all of the top 9 teams – and all of them are away games. But looking back briefly over the shoulder at the first half of the season, there were enough highlights to be able to look ahead with confidence, in an attempt to secure at least a top 6 finish in 4 months time.

Let’s hope all those who turned out to support Swindon on New Years Day will do so again on Saturday and beyond…

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