Who or what is at fault for most of our goals?

Plenty of goals at either end for Swindon Town have generated plenty of pulsating football for the neutral, however, are too many being conceded and is anyone or anything to blame. Asks Ron Smith?

Last season Swindon Town recorded a superb 20 clean sheets (36%) in 55 league and cup games; as well as conceding more than once in a match on just nine occasions (16%).

Compare this record to the 12 games so far in 2013/14. While Town have recorded a similar percentage of clean sheets with four games in which Wes Foderingham hasn’t been beaten, the opposition have scored more than one goal in six from the remaining eight games.

Yes, Town don’t have a disciplinarian Italian marshalling the defence. Yes, we are playing a different style of football, yes we have a new younger side, and yes we played Chelsea, but are these really excuses or is someone, something at fault?

The reason for posing this question is simple, the abuse from some about Jay McEveley’s recent performances. The left-back conceded a comical own goal at Preston North End and has been criticised for his perceived lack of contribution to the attacking plays. However, looking (below) at the opposition’s route to goal this season, only one goal has been conceded via McEveley’s flank (the opposition’s right).

2013.10.01 Goals Conceded

Hopefully the above graph paints a picture of the broad positions where our goals have been conceded (six-yard box, box left, box right, penalty spot or out-of-box) and the route to goal (via the left wing, middle, right wing, free-kick, penalty spot, throw, long corner or short corner).

In terms of Jay, if you’ve studied the graphic you would’ve notice that, unfortunately for him, 40% of goals conceded have been within the opposition’s right side of the box, not to mention you would’ve come to the conclusion that McEveley has played in only six of the 12 games and that the goal conceded via his flank was on his watch (versus Bristol City).

Anyway… what for you has contributed to Foderingham picking the ball of of his net so frequently this season, particularly throughout September in which he failed to keep a clean sheet?

Is is a dip in form for Wes; or it the defence through Grant Hall’s poor positioning, Darren Ward’s age or just that you don’t like Jay; or are the midfield not contributing enough to cover the rampaging Nathan Thompson runs down the right; or do you lay the blame at Mark Cooper, Jed McCrory or no blame at all?

Tell us what you think and what you’d do to fix the leaky defence in the comment box below.

Don’t forget to add your comments below the line as we’ll be talking about this and reading out the best of the comments in TheWashbag podcast to be recorded this Sunday and available for download later that evening; probably now after a clean sheet against Tranmere Rovers…


  • Combination of issues I think.

    Although Ward’s positioning is usually spot on, he is very slow on the counter and Hall is very inexperienced, although he is picking it up quickly thanks to Wardy, but he needs to be quicker getting back to cover for Ward too.

    Combination of the two tall centre-backs we don’t have a quick and in their prime player like Flint. He was quick enough to get back and make up ground then get a spot on challenge in where Wardy & Hall can’t.

    We don’t have a right back because Thompson spends most of the time in the oppositions box, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But how many goals have we conceded on the counter where we’ve been let exposed at the back? Kasim has had to play right-back, left-back, center-back and the last-man where we don’t have a solid 100% defender because we’re such an attacking team.

    I’ve noticed McCeveley takes a good 15 – 20 minutes to get into a game, usually has a shocking start to a match then gets better over time. Maybe still his knee giving him jip?


  • I agree that it is a combination of factors. However from my watching of games and the stats above we are vulnerable when we lose the ball passing out from the back. That seems to be because we split the CBs too far apart and leave the gap between them. Kasim then gets drawn away from the CM protection role into defence often between the CBs. Against Chelsea MC tried to push one full back forward at a time with the other tucked into defence. The CBs then stay closer with one of them occupying a central position at all times. That is what we need to work on so that Kasim/Harley/Thompson is always pushed a yard or two forward protecting from the straight forward pass between the CBs. Once we have pushed on into the opposition half there is room for more attacking play by the defending full back. That’s my theory.


  • I don’t like this desire to aportion blame. Swindon fans are so critical already – picking out individuals the moment goals go in – and rarely with much sense. Mistakes are made but they need to be addressed collectively – just a football is played. Yes, the system is higher risk than PDC played, but it is also higher reward. Balance is what matters between attack and defence and, perhaps at the moment, it is slightly tilted – but that is partly due to injuries. Swindon are great to watch at the moment because the player can now play without fear, to express themselves and take a risk. And I enjoy that, not picking fault with one player or another.


  • Playing with 2 wing backs we are usually left short at the back. NT is usually further up the field so a few goals have come from long punts over the top ( as at wolves ) or him being caught out of position. Hall is generally left to cover for NT so is dragged out of position leaving just Ward. JMc has been fairly decent in defence since coming back but does slow attacks to a crawl going forward plus is slow to get back. Am enjoying the free flowing forward play but is gonna leave us struggling at the back


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