Leyton Orient 2-0 Swindon Town: Two penalty goals sink Town
Following what some have referred to as the “worst performance in years”, Swindon Town were slightly less than convincing in a 2-0 defeat away at Leyton Orient, with two penalties the difference between the sides, reports first-time contributor Nick John.
With eight first-team players out of the side through injury or suspension it was always going to be a difficult encounter away at one of the better sides in the league. With the likes of Nile Ranger, the in-form Louis Thompson and Alex Pritchard ruled out this week, adding other key players such as Ryan Mason and Jay McEveley to the list, I was still optimistic that we could grab something from this fixture. However, having been outplayed at our own passing game, Swindon were beaten by two goals.
Due to the growing list of absent players, Town manager Mark Cooper made four changes to the starting 11: Ben Gladwin, Jamie Reckord and Ryan Harley came in, Raphael Rossi Branco was dropped to the bench and Michael Smith returned to lead the front line as a lone striker. However, just before kick-off another injury struck, with Wes Foderingham having to be replaced by Tyrell Belford in goal.
Not that it deterred the fantastic travelling numbers as the mood was still buoyant. With the Town fans in fine form, and good voice. There was still the eternal hope that we could grab something, given that our recent, resilient away form.
Orient came out fighting and had the majority of the ball in the first half. They were slick in their movement and created a number of opportunities. Swindon struggled to find their rhythm and create any chances of note as they were outplayed by a team that seemed to want it more. As Orient pushed forward they almost took the lead when a well-worked interaction between Dagnall and Lloyd James resulted in a shot against the post, giving the Town an early let-off.
Things didn’t really pick up from there, as following our first and only shot of the first half – which went flying over the bar from Massimo Luongo – Orient broke through with Reckford’s tackle on Odubajo resulting in the first penalty of the day for Orient. Lloyd James made no mistake and put Orient one up going into half time. This was a lead that, on the balance of play, was well deserved. While on occasions Town had good passing movements, it seemed to fall away in the final third, a familiar sight in so many games this season.
The second half was pretty much more of the same with Orient pushing more and more. At 52 minutes Orient broke through and the rock that is Troy Archibald-Henville brought down Mooney to give them their second penalty of the game. James stepped up again and having sent Belford the wrong way, put Orient two up.
Looking to inject some urgency and create more space to play our passing game, Cooper made two changes and replaced Jacob Murphy and Ben Gladwin with Tijane Reis and George Barker. Swindon seemed to start to want the game a bit more and started to take more possession but as with the first half there seemed to be an issue with the final third of the pitch. A few chances were created, the best falling to George Barker just outside of the six-yard box, but his effort was blasted high over the cross bar.
With the final whistle imminent Town continued to try to push, but this was not to be. The game ended with those two goals and with very few positives to take away. Individually it was hard to pick out a Town player that stood above the rest but Nathan Byrne and Belford did their reputations no harm at all with solid displays.
After the game a few fans were quick to offer their opinion that Cooper should not be the manager and we had just witnessed the worst game in many years by the Town. With a team of young players, many of whom are playing regular competitive football for the first time and a long list of injuries, adding to the fact that we’ve had to slash the salary budget by half, the very fact that we are not fighting relegation could be perceived as a miracle in its own right.
It may have been a defeat, and one in which Swindon did not play anywhere near their full potential, but it’s not all doom and gloom. We are still 8th in the league, a few points out of the play-offs and playing some really good football. Now we move forward to Tuesday where we see the rearranged fixture against Crawley Town at the County Ground. Let’s hope our home form picks up and we see the three points we were so desperate for today, secured in front of a decent crowd.
Follow Nick John on Twitter @nkj101