Swindon Town 1-1 Coventry City: Fightback secures a point

A depleted Swindon Town side came from behind against a well organised Coventry City side to earn a point and maintain their unbeaten home start to the season. Writes Lee Clark.

Yaser Kasim took the captain’s armband from Nathan Thompson, who was suspended after his professional foul in the late stages of extra time on Tuesday night. Michael Smith felt the effects of a shoulder injury in the warm up, and was replaced by 19 year old Connor Waldon who made only his second start for Swindon. He was partnered up front by Andy Williams who Mark Cooper had described as “doubtful” before the game, having been struggling with an injury to his back.

Swindon started the brighter, having the majority of possession and territory for the first twenty minutes without creating any clear-cut opportunities. Kasim and Massimo Luongo both came close to playing Nathan Byrne, Andy Williams and Brad Smith in behind the defence on separate occasions, however the County Ground pitch was very lively having been watered pre-match and on all three occasions the ball skidded out for a goal kick.

The momentum at this point was with Swindon but chances were at a premium. Nathan Byrne had got beyond the full back and played a low cross in. Waldon, who was lively in the opening stages, ran towards the near post but couldn’t quite make contact and the danger was cleared for a Swindon corner. The corner came into the box, and wasn’t properly cleared. It dropped kindly for Waldon, who from 12 yards attempted an ambitious overhead kick which was blocked by the resilient Coventry defence.

Against the run of play, the visitors took the lead as the half drew to a close. Swindon had forced a succession of corners and took them all short. Coventry had grown wise to this, and surrounded Byrne as he received the ball from Kasim down by the corner flag. Byrne, with little option, opted to play the ball back to Josh Lelan on the half way line. Lelan, who was Swindon’s deepest player, played a very poor pass with disastrous consequences. Coventry had three players breaking with pace, and played a cross field pass leaving Josh McQuoid to bulldoze his way through Wes Foderingham and pass the ball into an open goal.

In the second half, Coventry continued where they left off and started to build up a head of steam. Marcus Tudgay couldn’t keep his header down when picked out from a powerful cross from the left. Josh Lelan was looking very nervous in possession and his earlier mistake was clearly weighing on his mind. Coventry had started to ambush the on-loan Derby youngster every time he got possession and had prompted a few more mistakes from him.

Coventry came within inches to doubling their lead mid-way through the second half. Coventry had a corner down by their away support in the Arkell’s stand. The ball came in towards the far post, where a Coventry defender planted a powerful header goalward. Wes Foderingham produced an absolutely stunning save to just prevent the ball from crossing the line. As Coventry appealed for a goal, Swindon broke with pace although the attack came to nothing.

After a good Coventry spell, Swindon took the initiative again. The majority of pressure was in the form of set pieces, and it produced Swindon’s equaliser with around twenty minutes to go. Byrne’s corner was cleared but the ball was soon returned to him. He played a fantastic in-swinging cross to the back post, where Raphael Rossi Branco was running in to plant a header into the far corner. It was the Brazilian’s first goal for Swindon, after his cross-cum-shot in the dying embers against Gillingham was given as an own goal.

Immediately after the goal, it seems as though there was only going to be one winner. Swindon continued to press, and the Town support was really getting behind the team. Another corner created yet another opportunity. Brad Smith whipped the ball in towards the front post, and Jordan Turnbull was unlucky to see his flicked header only just clear the bar. Swindon had a second wind and were not feeling the effects of their 120 minutes on Tuesday night.

Both sides pressed for a winner late on, and the final chance of the match came for Coventry City in injury time. A low cross found Simeon Jackson unmarked around 10 yards out, but the former Norwich man’s first time shot was just wide.

In truth, neither side deserved all three points, with clear cut chances few and far between. Swindon still have plenty of work to do on the defence, however the players proved that they can more than compete with some of the more difficult sides in the division, having had a relatively easy set of fixtures up until Saturday’s game.

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