A blip versus Gillingham but far from the end of the road

Swindon Town’s current blip in results continued as Town doubled the total number of home losses in the season in a two week period. This time it was Gillingham who deservedly picked up all three points with a confident display making every single chance count. STFC007 takes stock of what could possibly be the reason for the recent indifferent results compared to the first half of the season.

1. People express disappointment in different ways

It’s interesting to see how people react before, during and after the game of football, especially when Swindon are losing / have lost. There are those for whom the the glass will always be half full – even if it’s completely empty. It’s good to be around those people, they tend to have lots of energy  and energise others around them. Then there are those whose reaction to the slightest setback is to over-react, talk in negative superlatives and generally have a very short memory span.  Those folks zap your energy and are best to be avoided unless you want to get into a depression.

As a supporter, there’s only one thing you can do to possibly affect the result of the game and that is to get fully behind the team whatever the result or performance. If Nathan Byrne’s cross goes well wide behind the goal, I am sure he’s well aware of it and wants to do better next time. Shouting at him from the stands isn’t going to give him a lift and a boost of confidence allowing him to do better next time. So get behind the team during the game especially if things aren’t going well.

2. Young heads on young shoulders

I know that some believe that Mark Cooper uses this as an excuse after a bad result. ‘They’re still young’. But it’s true. None of them are weathered professionals who have experienced multiple promotions, relegations or Wembley play-off finals.

It’s at times like these when a really experienced professional is what is needed. Someone who is vocal and takes control of the situation. Instead some players are more likely to lose their head. Remonstrating with the referee (Branco), petulance in kicking the ball away (Stephens), getting involved at the wrong time (Foderingham) are just some examples where a wise head on older shoulders could stimulate the players to be much more positive in approach.  Time for someone to grow up and take control on the pitch.

3. Lack of self-belief with the finishing line in sight

Some players seem to lack self belief at the moment l and pass the ball to someone instead of having a go themselves. A good example on Tuesday was Byrne who received the ball in the box after Andy Williams’ excellent run created the space; but instead of hitting the ball with his left foot, he passed the ball (too hard) to Toffolo) who was not expecting it and so the chance was gone. There were several other examples where someone should have had a shot but didn’t. I’m confident that a couple of wins on the bounce will see the confidence and self belief grow in the team.

4.  5-a-side football on a 11-a-side pitch

There’s a time to pass people and there’s a time to pass the ball. When a long run passing several people multiple times comes off, it’s great to see; but more often than not, it won’t come off. I’ve never played in a team where someone hogged the ball too much. They may have tried initially, but were told in no uncertain terms to pass the ball. Someone should have a word with John Swift to pass the ball a bit sooner; most likely he’d get it back and will be in a better position.

5. Who remembers the first half of the season?

It’s always the period most fresh in the mind that is remembered. That’s with most things in life. Football is no different. Getting a last minute equaliser from a first half two goals down feels like a win compared to being two up and allowing the opposition an equaliser in the last minute which almost feels like a loss. The result is the same but only the recent period is remembered.

So for those who have forgotten already, the first 24 games of the season we averaged two points per game and had a goal difference of +22. In the last 10 games we have averaged 1.3 points per game with a goal difference of minus one. Basically, Town dropped seven points in the last 10 games compared to the form in the first half of the season. Had we continued that form, Town would be second in the table with a cushion of five points to third place. But we’re not and we can’t turn back time. We are where we are. But do not forget the first half of the season just because of some poor results recently.

So what now?

Well, whilst the football may not have been as effervescent recently compared to first half of the season, in most of the last 10 games where the result may have been disappointing, we haven’t been played off the pitch; in some games, we should have been out of sight in the first half but weren’t. On Tuesday we did create chances, a header than was missed from a Toffelo free kick, a header across goal with no-one around to tap in, a second half cross played just behind Williams, a shot against the post. OK, we did not have any shots on target, but I believe it’s not as bad as it seems and the margins are small.

Town are still in the mix and a little run of results can spark a revival giving the team the self belief and confidence it needs to finish the season on a high.

They need the crowd’s support to spur them on especially when things do not go as planned. Give them your unconditional support on Saturday and for the remainder of the season. You never know where it may end…

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