Swindon Town 1-0 Tranmere Rovers: Town maintain unbeaten home form

Heading into the game you could’ve been forgiven for expecting a Swindon Town rampage against a poor Tranmere Rovers side. The 1-0 scoreline may not represent that dominance, but the overall play showed an even more patient side to Town’s approach. Writes Calvin Hothi. 

Nile Ranger was welcomed back into a nearly unchanged side from the defeat to Preston North End the previous week. Lee Cox was among the substitutes again as he continued to try and push himself into Mark Cooper’s reckoning.

The game started off quite slowly with neither side able to create any clear cut chances. On 15 minutes Nathan Byrne had the first effort of the game sending a shot just wide of the top right corner. This was  followed by headed attempts from Nile Ranger and Jay McEveley; when the latter should really have scored.

Swindon continued to dominate possession of the first half and played very patiently around the back and waiting for holes to get forward. Yaser Kasim dragged a shot wide on 22 minutes after good work to get past his defender.

27 minutes in and the deciding goal came, Nathan Byrne picked up the ball outside the box and thread a pass into the box to Alex Pritchard. The Tottenham loanee was hacked down by Tom Hateley and the referee pointed to the spot. Dany N’Guessan sent the keeper the wrong way from the spot, placing the penalty in the bottom left corner.

Soon afterwards, Atkinson sliced a volley wide in response for Rovers. Liam Ridehalgh’s shot was saved by Wesley Foderingham and Danny Holmes fired over from distance as Tranmere failed to get back level.

The first half was very dominant for Swindon. A very patient passing game around the back frustrated some in the Ground, but allowed the retention of possession while seeking holes to open up in which to attack through. Swindon should have perhaps turned this possession into a second goal before half time but entered the break in a very comfortable position.

The two sides came back out for the second half unchanged. Jim McNulty’s cross nearly went in before Foderingham pushed it wide for a corner. The game finally started to open up a bit more with Tranmere pushing forward more frequently in search of an equaliser. A free-kick that was in a threatening position for Tranmere ended up being wasted with Ryan Lowe comically passing straight to the Town wall, which summed up their afternoon.

Nathan Byrne’s long range shot was saved by Fon-Williams and chances for Alex Pritchard and Dany N’Guessan went begging for the Robins in the 66th and 67th minute. The first change of the day saw Cole Stockton replace Akpo Sodje for the away side in the 73rd minute. In the 74th Ryan Lowe received a corner to his feet and shot into the side netting with one of Rovers’ best chances so far.

Jay McEveley, who was playing one of his best games of the season to date, was required to track back and block Lowes shot well. With 11 minutes to go Mohamed El Gabas replaced goal scored Dany N’Guessan. Byrne tried his luck from 18 yards but Fon-Williams got down well to save. James Rowe replaced Tom Hateley for Tranmere before a great run from McEveley teed up Alex Pritchard who’s volley went out for a throw.

Town’s second change of the day saw Nicky Ajose replace Nathan Byrne. Ryan Lowe burst into the Town box and went down too easily in a challenge with Foderingham resulting in a yellow card for diving. Little else positive happened in the second half, except a superb 30 yard strike for Massimo Luongo that was just tipped over by Fon-Williams. Unfortunately, Nathan Thompson was booked for a poor challenge on the recently put on Bell-Baggie. A booking that will keep him out of the midweek JPT tie with Plymouth Argyle, but will provide the full-back will a well-deserved break.

A very possessive game for Town who held onto the ball for large amounts of the game against a Tranmere side obviously set up for a point. Rovers played sometimes with ten men defending and offered very little in attack. Swindon perhaps should have added more goals to show how comfortable they were but its three points all the same. Yaser Kasim looked solid as usual and Jay McEveley played one of his better games for us in my opinion and will be a boost to his confidence.

For newcomers the game might have been seen as quite a boring one, but with a large amount of possession shows we can grind out results against park the bus teams. Man of the Match for me was out of McEveley and Kasim. Both did well on the ball and played well in general.

One negative side from the game today is that Grant Hall had everyone’s hearts in their mouth several times; losing the ball in the wrong areas and having an uneasy game. He is young, however still learning and with Darren Ward alongside him he is learning from one of the best.

Next game up for the Robins is the midweek visit from Plymouth Argyle in the JPT. A game that will allow us rotation and a chance to rest players. Lee Cox could feature in place of Yaser Kasim and we could see a shuffle at centre back with Rossi-Branco being patient. Belford could come in for Foderingham and we are likely to see Jack Barthram start in the place of suspended Nathan Thompson.

Hope to see you there. COYR

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