Swindon Town 2-0 Notts County: Another one bites the dust…
After three wins on the trot Swindon Town aimed to make it a fourth when entertaining Notts County at the County Ground for ‘Friday Night Football’. With Ryan Mason returning to the fold and Swindon finally looking like they were hitting a patch of rich form Town fans were eagerly anticipating Friday’s game, as Matthew Peach reports.
Swindon approached their encounter with County sitting in 7th position after back-to-back league wins against Tranmere Rovers and Rotherham United. Confidence was high for the clash, moved to a Friday to see how crowd numbers react and let people who are unavailable on a Saturday to attend. The visitors who had only lost once in their last four in all competitions could prove to be difficult opponents for Town; with young Scottish starlet Callum McGregor, the Nottingham sides top scorer, and journeyman Danny Haynes being the obvious threats.
Swindon lined up in a 3-5-2 formation, similar to that in which they lined up against Rotherham. Grant Hall, Darren Ward and Jay McEveley made up the back three with Nathans Byrne and Thompson operating as the wing backs. Regulars Yaser Kasim and Massimo Luongo sat in front of the back line with loan star Alex Pritchard playing in the hole behind front two of Nile Ranger and Dany N’Guessan.
Swindon got the game underway and started well, with a good play involving Thompson and Luongo. However the visitors did have a few corners that were well defended by Ranger in the opening ten minutes. The opening goal didn’t come from glamorous passing play, or one touch flicks resulting in a beautiful team goal. No. It came from Nile Ranger’s head on a Alex Pritchard corner. Simple. It was good to see Ranger get back amongst the goals having been on a goal drought since the Bristol City game. Shortly after Town’s goal they had another glorious chance to grab a goal when Thompson and Luongo combined to set up Alex Pritchard for a header that got cleared of the line. The hosts had started well playing very nice football. Minutes later Byrne fooled Notts County full back Mustapha Dumbuya with his quick feet drawing a foul in the Penalty area. Summer arrival Dany N’Guessan stepped up to make it five goals in nine games and become Swindon’s outright top scorer.
Notts County had a few long range shots however they failed to get a real opportunity, except from Danny Haynes disallowed goal (offside) just after the 30 minute mark. So Swindon Town went into the break with a comfortable 2-0 lead. It was evident that Notts County manager Chris Kiwomya was far from happy with his side and made two changes at the half time interval. Marcus Haber and Manny Smith replaced Joss Labadie and Dean Leacock respectively. Town were also forced into a change at half time when Nathan Thompson was forced off through illness and was replaced by Jack Barthram. The former Spurs youngster had impressed on his first start for Swindon in the Johnston’s Paint Trophy against Plymouth , grabbing a goal in the process.
County kicked off the second half, however Swindon continued their dominance creating a host of chances coming from corners, crosses and just good play. Nathan Byrne had many chances throughout the second half as he hit the wood work many times and forced Bartosz Bialkowski into many great saves. Had it not been for the former Southampton shot-stopper then Town could have really could of made it a rout. it wasn’t all Swindon though, Notts County did have a chance to make a match of it.
After breaking from a Swindon attack, cult hero Yaser Kasim brought down Callum McGregor in the Town box resulting in a penalty kick for the visitors. With still a quarter of the game yet to play, had the visitors of converted the spot kick then Town would have had to remain resilient to ride a lot of pressure when Notts County would’ve of thrown the kitchen sink at Town’s back four. Fortunately this was spared as Danny Haynes stepped up and absolutely leathered the ball high over Foderingham’s goal, almost clearing the Stratton Bank. This was a blessing, and led to another clean sheet to add to the collection that the team have worked hard for, and can only further boost the confidence of the developing Town side.
A real positive note occurred on the 80th minute. No, it wasn’t the announcement of the attendance or man of the match, but the return of Ryan Mason from injury. A player with real quality who I wouldn’t say we have missed, but certainly can do no harm to have back to use over the coming games. It was obvious to see that he was desperate to return to action, and mark it with a goal shooting from tight angles and long distances. Shortly after Mason came on the Referee blew for full time meaning that Swindon had won their last four games and kept three consecutive clean sheets in the league for the first time since early January of this year.
What’s next for Swindon? The Robins have a tough home game against 10th place Walsall. Walsall have only lost one in the last seven in all competitions, and will prove to be difficult opposition. Saying that, I believe that the form Swindon are in at the moment means they can beat anyone. After meeting the Saddlers, it’s up to Oldham before Port Vale at SN1, and then the start of the FA Cup.
Where can Swindon go from this? It’s fair to say at the start of August no-one expected Swindon to be in the play offs, winning four on the bounce and keeping clean sheets for fun. However that is the situation we are in. I think that this side can achieve the play off.
I will see you at the County Ground on Tuesday, let’s see this great run continue.
Matthew Peach – @MattJPeach