Swindon 4 Carlisle United 0: Rampant Robins Hit Carlisle For Four

After thrashing both Tranmere and Portsmouth 5-0 in their previous two home games, Swindon Town came into this clash with Carlisle looking to carry on their recent fine form and extend their unbeaten run to five straight games. Goals from the in-form pairing of James Collins and Andy Williams and one from Raffaele De Vita ensured Town continued their fine start to 2013. Writes Andrew Steele-Davis.

Manager Paolo Di Canio opted to make three changes to the team that had so easily dispatched of Portsmouth in the first game of 2013, starting with the eleven that had finished the game against crisis club Pompey. Four goal hero and super-sub James Collins took his place up front alongside Andy Williams; with midfield talisman and fan-favourite Simon Ferry and Gary Roberts also back in the starting eleven. Tommy Miller, Chris Martin and Raffaele De Vita had to make do with a place on the bench.

With many inside the County Ground viewing Carlisle as a potential trip hazard after the previous two excellent home performances, the Town faithful would have been delighted to see Di Canio’s men come out all guns blazing. Andy Williams charged down the left flank, a sight so familiar to Town fans now, and his pullback found partner in crime James Collins whose deflected effort found its way to Simon Ferry’s boot, however the Scotsman found Carlisle keeper Mark Gillespie in good form to pull off a half decent save.

After a rather laboured first half against Portsmouth, Swindon wasted no time finding their natural rhythm against Carlisle, stroking the ball around beautifully and causing the visitors to chase shadows, resembling a Sunday league team at times. Gary Roberts was next to try his luck at goal, his effort, following good work from the dangerous duo of Williams and Collins drifting just wide of the Carlisle goal. Williams then had a chance to have a go at goal himself, setting the chance up with a neat touch but his shot curled wide.

However, just minutes later Williams did open his account for the afternoon, and it was a goal worthy of being included in any goal of the season list. Captain Alan McCormack’s throw in found Williams, who exquisitely lifted the ball over his marker before volleying home with aplomb. A fine finish and just rewards for the Robin’s blistering start to the game.

Town continued to assert their authority over Carlisle, keeping the visitors hemmed into their own area with little room to breathe. The midfield pairing of Ferry and Danny Hollands continued to impress, combining hard graft with flair, while the performance of Collins and Williams will give the Carlisle defence nightmares for weeks to come, Collins expertly bullied and harassed the backline throughout the ninety minutes while Williams stretched the play with his intelligent runs and link up play.

Swindon had plenty of chances to extend their lead before the much deserved second goal. Collins saw his shot cleared off the line by Carlisle captain Danny Livesey following Roberts’ cut back whilst Williams also had efforts blocked, including one which looked to have struck a hand in the penalty area, however the Swindon appeals were waved away by referee Trevor Kettle much to the disgust of Williams and the Town faithful.

All of Town’s probing did pay off though with just under quarter of an hour to go until half time. Matt Ritchie created space on the right hand side before curling a delicious ball into the six-yard box which Collins thumped home with his head to make it 2-0 to the hosts going into the break. A typical striker’s goal and a goal which extended Town’s number nine’s fine start to 2013, that being his fifth goal, yes fifth, since the new year rolled in last week.

Swindon started the second half like they did the first, creating wave after wave of attack, Williams’ pace and Collins’ power causing the by now ravaged Carlisle defence no end of problems. The visitors had struggled to get into the game from the first whistle, and their only real meaningful foray into Town’s half resulted in Matty Robson’s effort sailing well wide.

Just ten minutes after the restart and Town had further increased their advantage. Collins combined well with Richie whose low ball across the area was brilliantly slammed home by Williams for his second off the afternoon and his eighth of the campaign. Williams enjoyed a productive second half of the season in front of goal with Yeovil last year and, after a good start to 2013, Swindon fans will be hoping for more of the same.

Swindon soon made a couple of changes, with Chris Martin, possibly playing his last game in a Town shirt replacing Williams and Raffaele De Vita replacing Matt Ritchie. This saw Gary Roberts switch to the right, with the in-form Italian taking his place on the left flank.

Danny Hollands, whose future at Swindon is also in doubt, nearly signed off his current loan spell in perfect fashion but his goal-bound header was somehow kept out by Mark Gillespie in the Carlisle goal. With a harsh wind beginning to swirl in and around the County Ground, Nathan Thompson attempted to warm up the Town faithful with a charging run before letting loose but his shot was deflected into Gillespie’s arms.

In the final change of the game for Town, Tommy Miller replaced Ferry who was giving a standing ovation by Robins’ supporters for yet another faultless performance; further strengthening the argument put forward by many Town fans why Swindon’s number eight should be the first name on the teamsheet week in, week out.

With eighty minutes gone, Swindon finally notched a deserved fourth goal to send the County Ground into raptures and cap off a miserable afternoon for Carlisle staff and fans alike. Gary Roberts, who turned in a vastly improved performance weaved and cut his way inside, with his effort rebounding out to De Vita who had the simplest task of prodding home and wheeling away in front of a jubilant Town End. That being the Italian’s eighth goal of the campaign, a remarkable achievement considering many had thought De Vita to be on the fringe of the first team at the start of the campaign.

A vocal County Ground was now urging its heroes on to go and grab another goal in order to record the unusual feat of three straight 5-0 victories, and Town nearly achieved that, Tommy Miller rattling the crossbar from an indirect free-kick after Gillespie had handled outside of his area.

However, despite Roberts and De Vita having further chances to grab that fifth goal it wasn’t to be as the game ended 4-0 in Swindon’s favour. However, fourteen goals in three home games with none conceded is a record most teams the land over would be envious of and sets things up nicely going into next week’s crucial away game against Eddie Howe’s unbeaten Bournemouth.

Paolo Di Canio’s Swindon team are now really starting to click into top gear, showing the kind of form that was reminiscent of the form that saw Town wrap up the League 2 title last season. After the last three results, Swindon fans are currently in seventh heaven and will be hoping the rampant Robins can continue their fine form and secure a second consecutive promotion.

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