Swindon Town 1-0 Peterborough Utd: Happy 100 for Mark Cooper

Jermaine Hylton scored the first goal of his professional career in a single goal victory over Peterborough United to keep Swindon Town’s slim automatic promotion dream alive. Writes Jonny Leighfield…

In Mark Cooper’s 100th Town game, he made three changes to the team that started in front of the Sky cameras on Tuesday night. Jon Obika replaced Michael Smith upfront, Harry Toffolo returned to left wing-back and Anton Rodgers replaced the suspended Yaser Kasim. This meant a reshuffle too for Ben Gladwin and Sam Ricketts as the former moved into central midfield whilst the latter fell back into a more suited central defensive role.

It was clear from the start that both sides wanted to attack and this was illustrated by a chance for both teams inside the opening minutes. Andy Williams shanked wide after a clever turn just outside the box and Peterborough’s Luke James ballooned over from eight yards.

Shortly afterwards, Jordan Turnbull was booked for what seemed a perfectly timed tackle. The linesman waved his flag in the air causing the referee to brandish the yellow card meaning Turnbull’s ever-present tag in the Swindon team would be gone. This sequence of events later triggered a scathing evaluation from Cooper in his post-match interview questioning the assistant’s ability to officiate at this level.

Both teams had further chances to open the scoring but after a period of Swindon pressure, Obika rolled his man just inside the box and was apparently pulled down as the referee pointed to the spot. It looked a very soft award so maybe Peterborough felt that justice was served when Williams struck the penalty against the bar and the score remained goalless.

The end to end pattern of the game continued as both Gladwin and Marcus Maddison took turns to shoot inches wide from outside the area. Then Peterborough’s Jack Payne shot straight at Wes Foderingham and Massimo Luongo fired just over from a similar distance however the score wouldn’t change before half time.

Peterborough came out fighting in the second half and should have opened the scoring when Maddison had the ball squared back to him eight yards out but he could only poke the ball feebly at Foderingham after a poor first touch.

As it turned out, it wasn’t to be Andy Williams’ day. A Nathan Byrne cross made it all the way across the face of goal to the striker arriving at the back post but he could only throw a leg at it thus diverting the ball wide when he perhaps should have scored.

Peterborough continued to dominate the early stages of the second half with James dragging a shot wide and Payne forcing Foderingham into an excellent save to his right to deny Posh the opening goal.

The momentum of the game changed when Cooper brought on John Swift for Rodgers and replaced the out-of-sorts Williams with diamond in the rough Jermaine Hylton.

The build-up play to the goal was reminiscent of the Swindon side that tore teams apart in the early part of the season with their quick, decisive passing and fluent movement between positions. Toffolo exchanged passes with Swift before sliding the ball back to Obika. He then turned and played the ball towards Hylton who let it run across his body before steering the ball into the bottom left hand corner of the goal. The sheer elation was clear to see as Hylton wheeled away delighted with his first professional goal.

Following managerial mistakes which ultimately cost Swindon a chance at victory in the previous two games, Cooper had to be given credit for gambling and deserves praise for masterminding the tactical changes which proved vital in winning this game for Swindon.

Byrne did have a chance to make sure of the points late on but Peterborough ‘keeper Ben Alnwick stood firm to deny the tricky wing-back. Swindon were able to see out the rest of the game with a reasonable degree of comfort and made sure that they wouldn’t have to settle for the play-offs just yet.

A far from convincing performance led to Swindon taking all three points at home this weekend but as we all know, performances are secondary to results at this stage of the season and all that matters is they try to win every game. Providing Swindon play their game and set up to win in the way they know how, I can see a realistic chance of victory in every game except THAT away game on the 25th. Then again, when do Swindon ever do what we expect?

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