Swindon Town 2-1 Sheffield Utd: L Thompson nets dramatic late winner
A dramatic last minute world class reaction save from Swindon Town goalkeeper Wes Foderingham led to the break in which Louis Thompson scored his first goal in front of the Town End, which turned out to be the winner against Sheffield United, reports STFC007.
Swindon Town’s starting line-up had two changes from the win over Tranmere four days prior. Raphael Rossi Branco made way for Troy Archibald-Henville, while Massimo Luongo’s calf problem saw him sidelined and replaced by Lee Cox – who made his first League start for two years.
Swindon dictated play from the very first minute passing the ball well, greatly helped by Sheffield United compressing the field of play by allowing Swindon unchallenged possession in their own half. This wasn’t quite what I had expected from a resurgent Sheffield United team which had lost only once in ten – as they climbed out of the relegation zone and turning into possible play-off contenders. This tactic would’ve worked much better a few weeks back when Swindon’s midfield combination play was sometimes too intricate. Then too many players ended up ahead of the ball and then being picked off by a counter attack following loss of possession.
Three things have changed in recent weeks. Firstly, the inclusion of Alex Smith, who puts in as much effort in his defensive duties as he does in his offensive role, restricting the left hand side from being over-run. Secondly, whereas most of the possession play ended up being played out in the center of the pitch with distribution to the flanks being too slow at times, the inclusion of Ben Gladwin has allowed play to switch quickly with – a-la Ruud Krol- pinpoint long range precision passes. And thirdly and perhaps the most important, the added speed dimension up-front. Instead of balls mostly being played into feet/chest, Miles Storey’s speed has allowed for play to be more varied with the odd long ball being played into space to capitalise on one of his strengths.
This is exactly what happened in the 18th minute with Storey making the run and Michael Smith placing the ball into the space behind the Sheffield United defense. Miles finished well with his shot nestling just inside the far left hand post to give Town the lead.
Sheffield United’s best chances came from set pieces where Swindon’s marking has been generally poor. The closest the Blades came to a goal was from a corner where an unmarked Brayford – sporting an impressive looking beard – was able to head the ball goal bound only to find Wes Foderingham in his way. Nigel Clough expressed his frustration of his side’s lack-luster performance shouting at some of his players during a break of play. Swindon Town though led at halftime 1-0.
The Blades started the second half with an increased tempo to the game, chasing down players and dictating play for long periods. Ten minutes after the break, Swindon had a great opportunity to extend the lead. Thompson intercepted the ball and played in Kasim who found Smith, but his shot was very weak and missed the target.
On the hour mark Sheffield United scored a deserved equaliser. An overlapping run on the right hand side saw Thompson stranded, and a simple pass into the penalty area saw most of Swindon’s defense move towards the danger, leaving the back post unmarked where Doyle had an easy tap-in. The 860 away supporters who had been relatively quiet until the the equaliser suddenly were more vocal and getting behind their team. Byrne replaced the injured Nathan Thompson and his brother Louis replace a tiring Gladwin.
The Blades were in the ascendency and only some great saves from an inspired Wes Foderingham kept Swindon level. With 15 minutes left to play, Swindon were pushed back even more and were sitting too deep with an animated Cooper on the sidelines urging his team to move forward. Connor Waldon came on for Michael Smith – who worked hard but had an overall disappointing game.
As the clock went ever closer to the 90 minute mark, flashes of the recent home game against MK Dons appeared, with the memory of a last minute goal deciding the game. The same happened again today, but this time it was Swindon who scored the winner. A world-class reaction save from Wes Foderingham allowed the ball to be played out of defense by Louis Thompson who joined the counter attack alongside Nathan Byrne who just at the right moment passed the ball to Louis whose toe-poke was only half parried by the scrambling goalkeeper Howard who seemingly had gone to ground too quickly with the ball trickling into the net.
The County Ground erupted and Louis Thompson’s celebrations in front of the Town End were matched by the Swindon Town crowd in the stands. Whilst Nathan joined his brother in the celebrations together with the rest of the squad, it was Troy Archibald-Henville who instead of joining the celebrations with his team mates, ran towards Wes Foderingham to acknowledge his exquisite save moments earlier leading up to the goal. There were five minutes of extra time to be played which felt like ten, with former Town player Billy Paynter coming on, but Swindon held on to record a third successive win.
A great way to end the game with smiles all round. Next game is Carlisle away. Let’s hope Town can make it four wins in a row.
Swindon 2-1 Sheffield United (HT: 1-0)
Swindon Town: Foderingham, N. Thompson (C) (Byrne – 67’), Stephens, Archibald-Henville, McEveley, Gladwin (L. Thompson – 62’), Kasim, Cox, A. Smith, M. Smith (Waldon – 80’), Storey
Sheffield United: Howard, Davies, Freeman (Paynter – 92’), Coady, Brayford, Collins, Doyle (C), Flynn, Murphy, Scougall (McGinn – 60’), Baxter (Porter – 33′)
Man of the Match: Wes Foderingham
Attendance: 8,441 (Away Support: 860)
header photo – swindontownfc.co.uk