Swindon Town 3-1 Chesterfield: Another win, still top, celebrate…

Niall Ratcliffe reports on Swindon Town’s 3-1 victory over Chesterfield that maintained the Robins at the top of League One…

There was just one change to Mark Cooper’s squad for Saturday’s home game, Raphael Rossi-Branco coming in for an injured Ben Gladwin meaning Jack Stephens pushed up into midfield. This game was built up to be a goal-fest during midweek with the prospect of League One’s top two goal scorers on show. Andy Williams and Eoin Doyle before kick-off had 35 goals between them. Both teams also play attractive attacking football and their league positions respectively show that.

The game got off to a flyer with an early chance for Williams when he could only direct Michael Smith’s cross wide of the post. After a free kick was given, Town’s first of their three goals arrived.

Harry Toffolo whipped in a cross which was met by the head of Jack Stephens and the ball glanced into the bottom corner. This goal was fitting, especially after Mark Cooper’s second rally for our defenders to chip in with more goals. The lead didn’t last long though, Chesterfield scored almost instantly after an individual effort from Clucas beat Wes Foderingham to his right hand side.

Yet again, another goal was scored just three minutes after and this time it was John Swift. The Chelsea loanee found himself in front of goal after Smith’s shot was saved and all that was left do was smash the ball home from six-yards out.

Many occasions during the game Chesterfield found themselves in behind Town’s defence. It nearly cost the team in red again after an unmarked Chesterfield player smashed the ball against the woodwork leaving Wes beaten all ends up. The first half was really all Swindon, and Chesterfield waited until the second half to attack us properly. Town kept in control during the half and were good value for their 2-1 lead at half time.

In his post-match press conference, Mark Cooper said that Chesterfield saved their attacks for the second half and this wasn’t a lie. But before they had any chance to, Town were 3-1 up from a man who’s red hot in front of goal. Andy Williams scored his 18th goal in the league through a clever finish from outside the box. This was the sucker punch that Chesterfield could’ve done without, especially as this swift counter attack resulted from a good minute or two pressure from the Spireites.

For a long time during the second half Swindon had to soak up constant waves of attacks, but Chesterfield couldn’t find the back of the net despite their dominance in possession.

Back in 2014 for my last match report, I commented on our then weak defence and commented it would cost us against teams like Bristol City, Preston and Peterborough. It couldn’t have been further from the truth. Town went on take nine points from those three games and conceded only one. Swindon’s defence has gone from strength to strength since then and we now find ourselves sitting top of the league on 54 points. The run that we are on includes just one loss and a draw from eleven league games, dropping just five points from 33.

A Bristol Rovers fan in midweek mentioned to me about how strong we are in every department after drowning his sorrows watching us on TV. The fact Swindon have one of the lowest budgets in League One and a thin squad (naming 6 of 7 substitutes versus Chesterfield) proves how well we are doing.

However, despite the positives on the pitch, the atmosphere at the County Ground still worries me, especially when we’re 3-1 up and I hear ‘FORWARD’ screamed in my ear. Most fans still don’t understand the possession game we play and we’ve played 26 games.

In my opinion, nothing really happened in the second half apart from our goal and a few shots from Chesterfield’s number 9. We had to dig deep defensively for around 10 minutes and then we were fully in control for the rest of the game.  At this point in time, the win was probably to be expected before kick-off.

If the run we are on continues then we’re likely to go up automatically and even a dip in form could only see us drop into 4th because of the gap between 1st place and 5th being so big.

Town’s next game is away to Sheffield United on the 31st January which will provide a tough test for us and to how strong our promotion credentials really are.

Nial Ratcliffe – @niallrats

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