Andy’s Angle: My top five STFC matches of 2013
With Christmas now over for another year and with 2014 edging ever closer Andrew Steele-Davis reveals his top five memorable matches from what was a remarkable 2013 for Swindon Town…
Has Swindon Town ever experienced a year quite like 2013? With three Chairmen, three full-time managers, a caretaker boss and a joint caretaker reign not to mention a glut of goals, more new faces then you could shake a stick at and a meeting with the elite of Chelsea you would be hard pushed to find a calendar year that had as much excitement and drama crammed in it as 2013 did. With that in mind I decided to wade through the plethora of highlights and pick out my top five memorable matches of 2013. Here it goes…
1. Swindon Town 2-1 Coventry City (Saturday 21st December 2013) – For my top pick of memorable moments I have decided to plump for Town’s last game at The County Ground in 2013, that superb and crucial 2-1 victory over the Sky Blues which is still fresh in the memory. Coventry are without a doubt the best team I have seen at SN1 this season and were in control for large parts of this contest. Leon Clarke, a fan favourite amongst the Town faithful (I say that tongue in cheek of course) got on the scoresheet thanks to a delicious delivery from City captain Carl Baker but due to a moment of genius from Mark Cooper Swindon went on to snatch a vital victory in the race for a play-off place in front of a bumper Christmas crowd. To add even more gloss onto the victory was the quality of the two Swindon goals, one of which came from an unexpected source: Yaser Kasim notched the equaliser with a stunning volley from 20 yards which whistled into the bottom corner while Miles Storey, who has endured a frustrating campaign to date, was sent galloping through clear on goal with just minutes left before sending a sublime dink over the despairing Joe Murphy to seal a stunning win.
2. Tranmere Rovers 1-3 Swindon Town (Tuesday 19th February 2013) – Having your talismanic manager walk out a day before a crucial League game isn’t the best preparation but Paolo Di Canio left behind a determined, well-drilled, dogged bunch and they put in a performance that belied the chaos that was raging on behind the scenes at Boardroom level. Gary Roberts who endured a frustrating solitary season in a Town shirt scored two stunning goals to propel Swindon to the top of the League 1 table in what was a gutsy display that warmed the cockles of the travelling Town faithful on what was a freezing cold Merseyside night.
3. Swindon Town 5-0 Portsmouth (Tuesday 1st January 2013) – In the curtain raiser to 2013 Town got the new year off to a perfect start by putting five past a hapless Pompey team that would go on to slip into the basement division at the end of that campaign. However, the game wasn’t as plain sailing as the scoreline would suggest with Portsmouth frustrating Town in the first half prompting Paolo Di Canio to bring on James Collins who would reward his manager in scintillating fashion. Collins helped himself to a very impressive four goals with Danny Hollands netting the other in what was a masterful second half display. That result was followed by a 4-0 drubbing of Carlisle United which set the tone for a year that saw a glut of goals at The County Ground. How we would love to see that scoreline repeated in the curtain raiser to 2014 against Crawley.
4. QPR 0-2 Swindon Town (Tuesday 27th August 2013) – Town’s triumph under the lights at Loftus Road back in late August will go down as another memorable and famous night in Swindon’s rich history. This stunning victory was made even sweeter by the sheer strength of the opposition with QPR boasting a monopoly of riches including the likes of Jermaine Jenas, Matty Phillips, Shaun Wright-Phillips and a certain Mr Charlie Austin. Mark Cooper’s young charges somehow defied the odds to cause arguably the biggest upset in the second round of the Capital One Cup thanks to combining a swagger and flair going forward with a steely, hardened core at the back. Town played QPR at a time when there were question marks over the defensive capabilities of such a young team but even when QPR threw the kitchen sink at the Swindon goal and asked numerous questions the new look Town backline stood firm and resolute and saw out the danger and then proceeded to pose a danger going forward themselves. Nile Ranger and Alex Pritchard notching their first ever goals for Town put the gloss on a memorable cup victory that will live long in the memory.
5. Rotherham United 0-4 Swindon Town (Saturday 12th October 2013) – With rumblings being made about Town’s poor away form what better way to answer those critics by smashing four past a team that had previously only lost once at home that season. Town served up a scintillating, heart-warming display on what was a rather wet and windy day in South Yorkshire and in doing so answered plenty of questions about their mentality away from home. Swindon were at their mesmerising best against the Millers and they penetrated the Rotherham goal again and again with the swagger and class that we have all become accustomed to this season. The highlight of the afternoon was an elegant, free flowing passage of play that saw Town produce a staggering 39 passes with Alex Pritchard just prodding wide. Pritchard did get on the scoresheet however with an exquisite free-kick which flew in and the quality of that goal summed up Town’s attacking prowess that day.
So there you have it, my top five memorable matches of 2013. Do you agree with my selection? What would your top five memorable matches be?
Have a Happy New Year.
Until next time…