Cheltenham 5 Swindon 0: Like last time, but worse

Terry Gornell scores against Swindon in the FA Cup

Alex Cooke reports from yet another farcical sending off and another farcical Town match at Whaddon Road.

The best thing that can be said about this game is that it ended. And that it ends will probably be the best thing about this report, so let’s get there soon. Then I can drink and you can think about something else. Perhaps kittens, or meadows. Or more drink.

This was a poor performance – an abject performance – by a team unchanged, bar the return of Andy Williams and Nathan Byrne. And this turd of a performance was maximised by an early and soft sending off. And four crap goals, and one decent one.

The scoreline flattered Cheltenham, but not as much as Swindon’s defence did. The rest of the team were like the pitch – ponderous, stodgy, slow. But the back three were worse – lacking aggression, organisation and strength.

Cheltenham didn’t follow League One orthodoxy and attempt to stop Town playing, they welcomed it. They sat almost on the edge of their own 18-yard box. Five were strung across the back and shielded by a trio of workers. The front two were big, strong, persistent and limited. They chased and challenged for balls that Swindon’s back three didn’t – it was enough on the night.

The goals largely came from nothing: nothing balls over the top, nothing flick-ons, nothing defending. The sending off was similar. Each could have been dealt with, and should have been dealt with. You can watch them, if you can bear to open your eyes – our defenders couldn’t.

Town never managed to get going before or after the sending off. They hardly pressured the ball or created. Cheltenham swamped and saturated them to easily. Only Massimo Luongo created space but found few allies. Numerous tactical adjustments saw Louis Thompson move between defence and midfield, even leading the line for one attack. But nothing worked.

Town attacked impotently throughout and perhaps might have been wiser to be cagey but these errors weren’t tactical, they were schoolboy. There were no midfield runners, no overloads. Cheltenham’s plan wasn’t to counter attack, it was to hoof and Town allowed them to turn that in 1v1 defending time and again. Each player was culpable, even substitute Rapheal Rossi Branco who gifted the final goal.

Some games demand analysis, this one does not. Mark Cooper got his spot on, “You can talk about tactics, you can talk about whatever you want, but if you don’t want to stick your head on the ball when it comes in your box and defend, and you don’t want to get on the end of things in their box then you can’t win a game of football.”

There, it has ended. Time to move on.

Picture credit: FlicWiltshire

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