Swindon Town 3-0 Notts County: Swift shines as Town return to winning ways

Swindon Town ended their poor run with a convincing home win against Notts County, moving up one place in League One to third and remain firmly in the promotion race reports @Swinfan69…

I have to admit being more than apprehensive about which Swindon side would turn up after the débâcle against Gillingham on Tuesday. My fears weren’t exactly allayed when it was clear that Andy Williams would be playing as a lone striker (something I personally don’t like, especially when we’re at home) against a Notts County side struggling at the wrong end of League One.

Yes, it was good to have Jack Stephens back, as he was sorely missed midweek, but there was a distinct nervousness in the air before kick off. But, the Town faithful responded to Lee Power’s rallying cry with boss Mark Cooper opting for ‘Plan B’ and a 3-5-1-1 formation with Yaser Kasim and Michael Smith making way.

I needn’t have worried as Swindon brushed County aside by the same 3-0 scoreline achieved at Meadow Lane last December. It was the visitors, though, who started brightly pinning Town back for the first five or six minutes.

Wes Foderingham was called into early action making two smart saves to deny Liam Noble and Gary Jones – wake-up calls which Town duly heeded – and that was as good as it got for ‘The Pies’. The first half then settled into a pattern of plenty of Swindon possession without meaningful penetration. The exception were the occasional forays forward from John Swift, Nathan Byrne and Nathan Thompson (when he surged forward from the centre of the back three) although there was little end product of note.

What there was plenty of, was niggle and inept officiating. Byrne was harshly booked for an apparent dive, and then the flashpoint, right in front of me, near the halfway line in front of the  Don Rogers stand. Town’s Andy Williams and County’s Curtis Thompson had a ‘coming-together’ with the latter ending up on top of Williams and appearing to strike him…all within three feet of the assistant referee. No action taken, just lots of finger pointing, two bemused officials and an irate home support. This set the tone for Notts’ ill-discipline, which would later cost them with Liam Noble’s late red card.

Goalless at half time and thankfully no real cause for alarm. Myself and friends agreed that Town simply needed to move the ball quicker and with more intent. It was obviously an afternoon for patience and credit to the Town support as they stuck with the team throughout.

They were rewarded by a high-octane, committed and purposeful second half. Swindon flew out of the blocks and just before the hour it was John Swift who picked the ball up on the left drove inside and from just outside the area, curled a beauty into the opposite corner of Roy Carroll’s goal. Town had their breakthrough and there would only be one outcome. County had lost their composure with players arguing with each other, the officials, Swindon players. County captain, Hayden Mullins even finding time for a frank exchange of views with the Don Rogers stand.

A second goal was inevitable and, again, it was Swift the creator as he worked space for a shot. Carroll parried  and was then, a tad harshly, judged to have fouled Andy Williams in trying to recover the ball..penalty..Swindon. It was no problem for Town’s top scorer as he tucked the spot kick away into the same corner that Swift had just found for his 20th League goal of the season. Shame it was in front of the empty Stratton Bank but the ensuing celebrations left no doubt what it meant to the team. And some added comedy with Carroll following referee Gavin Ward back to the halfway line remonstrating whilst the ref didn’t even so much as turn around. Apparently, former C**y favourite Leroy Lita had been out there and his substitution was very satisfying!

Now Swindon could turn on the afterburners, though Foderingham was called into action diving to his right to keep out substitute Gary Thompson’s fierce drive, as the silky football that had recently deserted Town returned. Liam Noble then decided to lose his cool picking up two quick fire bookings for dissent and Swindon soon inflicted more pain on Shaun Derry’s side.

With men committed forward and large spaces opening up all over the pitch, Massimo Luongo strode forward and from just inside the box hit a right footed shot. Carroll’s save fell perfectly into the path of Harry Toffolo who tapped in his first career, senior goal completing a satisfying, comfortable victory. Fitting that sponsors man of the match Swift forced a save from a free kick with the last kick of the game. But Swindon had to settle for three, which was a completely fair result. A job well done against very limited opponents. Most importantly of all, a bad run ended in emphatic fashion.

A game of, mostly, positives and any overt criticism would be churlish. We were not as sloppy and casual as in some games. For me, the key feature was the patience…from players, management and supporters alike. Cooper’s tactics were spot on and everyone played their part. Onwards and, hopefully, upwards to Vale Park next Saturday!


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