Chesterfield 0-3 Swindon Town: Three and easy(ish)

After three winless games in the league, Town travelled back from North Derbyshire with 3 points, 3 goals and 3rd place in the table courtesy of an encouraging display against Paul Cook’s Chesterfield. Writes Iain Watkins.

Both teams entered October in fine form but came in to this game having not won since the start of the month. Mark Cooper made two changes to the Town line-up with captain Nathan Thompson returning from suspension (allowing little brother Louis to move back into midfield) and Jon Obika coming in for Andy Williams. Jake Reeves took Matty Jones’ place on the bench. Chesterfield began with the same eleven that had lost at Walsall in the previous game, which included League One’s 14-goal top scorer Eoin Doyle but, perhaps fortunately for Swindon, not Gary Roberts who missed out through injury.

Since blue and red are apparently easy to confuse for one another, Swindon took to the field with the away strip on under their hand-shaking jackets (£50 from the club shop if you want to dress as the players do for 30 seconds). A healthy away following of 371 saw Town on the attack immediately with Louis Thompson blazing over after approximately 10 seconds. In fact, the future Canary had three reasonable chances in the opening stages, but only one of which forced Tommy Lee into a save. Chesterfield had the majority of the play to begin with as Town struggled to find any real momentum and being guilty of losing possession on several occasions through sloppy passing. That being said, the most clear cut chance in the opening third of the game fell to Obika who found himself one-on-one with Lee. Having sidestepped the ‘keeper, he somehow side-footed wide of the open goal. It felt like the sort of chance he would have taken with aplomb prior to his recent injury.

Despite the home side having most of the play, a combination of wayward shooting and determined defending from Town’s reformed back three kept the game scoreless. It seemed that would change on 27 minutes when Sam Morsheady’s deflected effort looked to have beaten Foderingham, only for the Town stopper to make a super stop low to his right. It proved a pivotal point in the match.

The Spireites struggled all evening with players running at them and they conceded two free kicks from such attacks. The first one was hit off target by Yaser Kasim; who, given the position it was in, arguably might have been better served hitting it with his left foot. Fortunately, it was a nice trial run for what was to follow. Kasim’s second effort from slightly left of centre swerved awkwardly (perhaps due a deflection – hard to tell from the other end of the pitch) and wrongfooted Lee. The Iraqi international’s second set piece goal of the season broke the deadlock.

The Town fans were celebrating again shortly after. Michael Smith found himself with the ball out on the left wing. He swung over a cross that was either overhit for Obika or brilliantly aimed to Nathan Byrne (let’s say the latter). Town’s number 3 saw his initial right-footed effort blocked. As the ball returned to him, and with Luongo’s run having taken a defender away, Byrne was able to cut inside and smash the ball home with his weaker foot. Bosh. Swindon went in to the break with a two-goal lead for the first time since Bradford last month.

Swindon’s players were clearly enjoying themselves during the second half, with some of the swagger having returned after a few iffy games. They continued to defend solidly and attack with confidence and could have wrapped the game up long before they did. Smith was denied well by Lee before Obika headed Byrne’s delightful cross against the post from 3 yards when it looked easier to score. The contest was finished on 70 minutes when Andy Williams, having replaced Obika minutes before, was played through by Byrne and was able to roll the ball in to the empty net at the second attempt in front of the delighted travelling contingent.

Pleasingly, Town continued to press. Smith and Williams both went close to adding further goals. To give Chesterfield their due, they didn’t give up and were still looking for a way back into the game, with most of their attacking continuing to come down Town’s right side. The defence stayed strong and Wes only faced one shot on target during the second 45 minutes. A clean sheet was a well-earned reward for the best defensive performance I’ve seen this season. Stephens and Turnbull looked a lot more commanding and confident with their captain back between them.

With this in mind, I’d say Nathan Thompson would be my man of the match. The last three games have shown how important he is. Nathan Byrne again was a constant thorn in the opposition’s side, Mass looked a class act in midfield once more and Wes’ varied distribution was exemplary (in addition to the reaction save before we took the lead).

Town took full advantage of one of their games in hand and a similar result in the other one would be gratefully received, particularly as Preston have now won 7 on the bounce in League One. Before that, though, is a tricky trip to Milton Keynes who have won all but two of their home league games this season. Town should go there on the crest of a wave following a return to winning ways in their first trip to the Proact stadium and, having only failed to score once this season, will know they can cause Karl Robinson’s side real problems.

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