Andy’s Angle: Cup Fever..?

Andrew Steele-Davis reflects on a game that had everything, looks forward to a week of cup fever and suggests why the January transfer window will be an important one for Town…

Now that was much better wasn’t it? Swindon put an end to their losing streak and banished any talk of an apparent ‘crisis’ in style with an impressive 5-2 victory over Port Vale that sent out a clear reminder, if one were needed, that Town mean business this season and that they should be regarded as serious contenders for a play-off place.

Dugout melees, stunning goals and the return of the free-flowing attacking football we have come to relish at the County Ground this campaign were all defining features in a game that was rather, well barmy to be completely honest. With a cagey and tight first half handing Town a narrow 1-0 lead I don’t think anyone, myself included, would have quite predicted how the second 45 minutes would unfold. But it was to be a 45 minutes that would provide drama and entertainment in abundance, another display of dazzling football and a catalogue of stunning goals to add to the vast collection we have been treated to already this season.

Nathan Byrne scored the pick of the afternoon’s goals with a sublime curling effort that whistled into the top corner which summed up the overall quality of Town’s attacking play. Goal of the season contender perhaps?

In addition to stunning goals there were also some sparkling individual displays with Dany N’Guessan, Massimo Luongo and Jay McEveley all putting in strong claims for the man-of-the-match award. N’Guessan walked home with the sponsor’s award and also got my vote after putting in a sensational, all-action display. The former Millwall man was a constant thorn in Vale’s side claiming his sixth goal of the season and laying on a delicious ball for Nile Ranger to thump home. It was without a doubt the striker’s best display in a Town shirt to date and he is proving to be a very shrewd signing.

Massimo Luongo also put in his best performance in a few games and proved that he does pose a considerable threat in front of goal with a well taken brace, with his second effort being the pick of the two. Jay McEveley deserved his share of the plaudits too however after putting in a faultless display, with the exception of two free-kicks that are probably still posing a threat to the houses in Shrivenham Road. Jay came in for some unfair criticism at the start of the season but in my opinion has been one of Town’s most improved performers.

Lee Hughes provided the game’s drama after launching himself at goalkeeping coach Fraser Digby in an attempt to retrieve the ball but after seeing a few pictures and hearing one or two accounts I think Mr Hughes was a very lucky boy to have escaped only with a yellow card.

This Saturday sees the return of FA Cup action for Town and a chance for Mark Cooper’s side to avenge last season’s humiliation at the same stage when Paolo Di Canio was still in charge as they travel up north to take on Macclesfield. Swindon are of course a much changed outfit from last season and while Macclesfield will provide a stern examination I am confident that Town can extend their FA Cup adventure this time around.

Next Tuesday sees the arrival of Wycombe to the County Ground in the Area Quarter Finals of the JPT and hopefully by the end of the evening’s proceedings we can be celebrating safe passage into the Area Semi-Finals and hopefully another crack at a potential Wembley trip.

Lastly before I shut down the laptop for the week it won’t be long until the January transfer window opens and I think the 2014 edition will be a hugely important one for Swindon. While Mark Cooper has an embarrassment of riches at his disposal up-front and in midfield, the defence is one area that could do with reinforcements; with the centre back area being the particular point of concern. Grant Hall and Darren Ward have showed signs of the beginnings of a solid centre back pairing this season but if one were to get injured then Swindon would be left wide open with a severe lack of cover in that department. Another centre back who fits Town’s footballing philosophy is vital in the winter transfer window and one particular player who fits that mould is Southampton’s Aaron Martin. Only 24 and more than comfortable with the ball at his feet, could he be the answer to Town’s shortage of defensive options? Only time will tell…

Until next time.

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