Andy’s Angle: On the road with Christian Roberts

Andrew Steele-Davis reflects on two consecutive defeats for Swindon Town, why patience is key and a road trip with Christian Roberts…

This all feels a bit different doesn’t it? The last time we had the pleasure of each other’s company Swindon had just delivered another footballing masterclass to Notts County and hopes and expectations were being altered by many Town fans, myself included for the duration of the season ahead.

However, we have all been brought down to earth with a rather big bump these last two weeks following two successive defeats. Walsall were by the far better team at The County Ground. They had a game-plan in mind to stifle Swindon which they carried out to perfection and their attacking prowess capped off a pretty miserable night for everyone concerned with Town. Dean Smith’s men had a surging finish to the 2012/13 campaign and their superb performance against us in my opinion marks them out as a dark horse contender for a play-off place this season.

They certainly possess enough firepower to cause any team in this division a headache or two on their day with Ashley Hemmings catching the eye with a masterful display which was capped off with two fine goals. The only positive for Town that night was the stunning heroics of Wes Foderingham who produced fine save after fine save. If it wasn’t for Swindon’s Mr Reliable then the scoreline would have been a lot harder to take.

Last Saturday saw the long trek up to Oldham Athletic, which is a trip I never look forward to making. Boundary Park has the honour of being the coldest and windiest ground in the country and it didn’t disappoint; it has taken me to now to finally get back to some level of warmth. Some Town fans and some members of the travelling press also had a frustrating journey up thanks to the M6 which meant they missed a large chunk of the first half.

Luckily I was in position for the start of the first half but for large chunks of it there wasn’t much to write home about. I think I tweeted two updates in 30 minutes which just about summed up the half. However, we were treated to a superb opening goal courtesy of Oldham’s Carl Winchester who was given too much space by Swindon to send his effort whistling into the net from twenty five yards out.

Swindon were much the better team for the majority of the second half and forced an equaliser through a freak own goal from James Tarkowski following good build up play by Town on the edge of the area. Despite pressing to get a second Town couldn’t create the chances their play deserved and Oldham secured the three points thanks to a diving header from Danny Philliskirk from a delicious delivery into the danger zone. Philliskirk’s header was enough to wrap up the three points for the hosts and condemn Town to their second successive defeat in the League for the first time this season.

While the two defeats were disappointing and frustrating, it is imperative that we stay patient and keep on encouraging Town to stick to their philosophy of free flowing attacking football. This has brought more success than failure so far this season in my honest opinion. After two defeats it is easy to forget that Town did win four on the bounce in all competitions previously, so I think the defeats to Walsall and Oldham should be viewed as minor blips and nothing more.

Last Saturday wasn’t all disappointment as I had the pleasure of sharing a car with former Town winger Christian Roberts who was more than happy to answer questions about his time at The County Ground. Unsurprisingly Roberts ranks the 2006/07 promotion season as his standout time in a Town shirt, a season which saw him strike up a lethal partnership in front of goal with Lee Peacock before Paul Sturrock’s arrival signalled a change in position for the duo.

The 2006/07 campaign also saw Gus Poyet at SN1 albeit for a short time and Roberts was full of praise for the former Town assistant and has tipped him to keep Sunderland up. One manager that won’t be receiving a Christmas card from the Roberts household however is Maurice Malpas who seemed just as unpopular amongst the players as he did with the fans.

Before I sign off for the week, Port Vale are the visitors to The County Ground on Saturday and their last visit to SN1 will live long in the memory of us all. A stunning 5-0 victory dominated by the genius of John Bostock sealed the League Two title and kicked off wild celebrations that included Simon Ferry running around The County Ground in his underwear. Never a dull moment at Town as they say…

Let’s hope the class of 2013/14 can put in a similar performance against Vale on Saturday and propel Town back into those play-off places.

Until Next Time…

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