Swindon Town 1-2 MK Dons: Throw it all away…

Swindon Town have chucked away League One points after taking the lead again. Here’s the MK Dons report by STFC007…

It was meant to have been a battle for 7th place, but with both Peterborough United and Walsall dropping points in the week, there was a glimmer of hope among some of Town’s over-optimistic faithful that perhaps there was an off-chance a final play off place could be achieved. A win on Saturday therefore would’ve been a must, to ensure 6th place remained within reach. However, it all finished with a whimper.

Our home form, which was the team’s strong point during the first half of the season, had deserted us lately. Town’s win as hosts came at the end of January against Shrewsbury Town. Against MK Dons there was one change from the last game with Alex Pritchard, back from injury, with Jacob Murphy making way. Swindon started brightly as they mostly do. The combinations in midfield between recently capped duo Yaser Kasim and Massimo Luongo together with Ryan Harley and Louis Thompson in the midfield.

Swindon were in control most of the first half, with MK Dons limited to long range efforts never putting ‘keeper Tyrell Belford under any real pressure. Any attacks that could challenge the Swindon goal were dealt with ease by Troy Archibald-Henville and Nathan Thompson.

The Town did take the lead in the 18th minute. Alex Pritchard coming from the left, cut inside and his shot could only be parried by MK Dons goal ‘keeper Martin, with the ball ending up in an arc over him in the path of poacher Michael Smith who with an easy header.

Afterwards Swindon had a few opportunities to increase the score. The best one which came from a fluent move in the MK Dons penalty box. Pritchard combined well with Luongo who found Harley, whose shot was weak and easily saved.

At half time things were okay we hadn’t played very well, but were in control and were one up. At the start of the second half, Swindon should’ve scored. Nathan Byrne cut in from the left side and was suddenly through on goal. With a tight angle, he should have pulled the ball back, but hesitated just too long with an MK Dons defender putting in a last ditch challenge. Within a few minutes, a second chance fell for Smith who also should have pulled the ball back, but in frustration committed a foul.

From then on, it was a disappointing display. Swindon seemed to be hanging on to the one goal lead instead of going in search of the killer second. As the second half progressed, MK Dons sensed the lack of confidence. Swindon sat back too deep too often allowing the visitors to take the initiative; it sometimes seemed as if we were the away team.

Marking for set-pieces was disappointing and a free header by Kay after losing Darren Ward, should’ve been a warning, but this wasn’t heeded as a few minutes later, the same lax marking meant an easy free header from a corner by Kay leaving Belford no chance.

Swindon looked lethargic, unable to change tempo and unable to regain the initiative. Karl Robinson made a positive substitution with Bowditch coming on for Odelusi with approximately 15 minutes to go. MK Dons were more aggressive and chasing every single ball. They could sense that a win was within reach. Some supporters around me could not understand why Smith, who had worked very hard throughout but whose ball control had deserted him a few times with some heavy touches, had not been replaced by a fresh striker. The substitution did finally happen with four minutes of normal time to go when Dany N’Guessan came on.

Bowditch had a chance to slot in the winner with five minutes left on the clock. Louis Thompson lost the ball in midfield and a long ball left Bowditch one-on-one with Belford who made a great save.

There were some strange decision made towards the end of the game. Byrne who thought he was fouled but who was not given a free-kick, committed a foul himself in frustration. Similarly, substitute Jay McEveley cleared wildly from the middle of his own half giving away a corner instead of a throw-in. Instead of playing the last few minutes in the opposition half, they allowed pressure on themselves. The MK Dons winner did come eventually, well into injury-time. The ball was picked up on the right hand side by Baldock who was allowed time to line up a shot which ended up in the back of the net.

Certainly, the result was disappointing, but the second-half display more so. Swindon were only twice this season in a play-off place, hardly any firm claim for deserving to end up in 6th. Also, if you look at the goal difference – which I believe is always a fair gauge – we are about in the right position.

Man of the Match: Troy Archibald-Henville
Attendance: 7,424 (322 away)

Next game: Wolves (the current League Leaders)

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