Swindon Town 4-1 Bradford City: Byrne’s second-half masterclass

After a worrying first half, Swindon Town ended up running away with the victory. Some tactical tinkering and an absolutely sublime individual performance by hat-trick hero Nathan Byrne secured the win – reports Davy Richards

The football season is back! After a Wembley heartbreak and the loss of many, many key players, I still remain somewhat hopeful that this 2015/16 could be the year for a promotion. Town’s new signings do look promising, even if Swindon still need at least a few more – at the time of writing Bradley Barry has just been announced as a Town player.

Before anything else, I would just like to commend every Swindon and Bradford supporter who took part in the minute’s applause in memory of the loyal Swindon fan Ben Jackson in the 32nd minute. I’m sure that his friends and family would have been overwhelmed by the support shown for them at this time. Also, the pre-match tifo display that was organised by Swindon Town Displays certainly helped to build the atmosphere.

Going into the game I must admit I was quite confident. I liked the XI Town selected and after the impressive show against Liverpool, albeit a loss, it felt like we had a good chance.

However, that was wiped out within four minutes. After a long throw from Bradford City down the right flank and then 6 further touches, the ball was in the back of the net, and in fairness, it was unstoppable. A fantastic strike from just outside the box by Josh Morris.

Further bad news came in the tenth minute, where Jermaine Hylton was forced off by injury due to a tackle a few minutes prior; and we’ve since found out he’s suffered a fractured collarbone.

More troubles followed just six minutes later. As a corner is whipped in by Bradford, and Lawrence Vigouroux comes out to claim it, instead however he spills it and Town fail to clear the ball properly. Following a couple of Bradford passes, the ball has found its way into Morris’ feet just inside the box, where he is taken down by a Nathan Thompson tackle, penalty. This however, is where the bad news ends, as the penalty is placed to the goalkeeper’s right hand side at a perfect height to reach, and Vigouroux saves.

Not to forget however, this is not the last worrying moment. As just before the half hour mark Billy Knott caught Jordan Turnbull in possession and then struck an effort from inside the centre circle. This had the ‘keeper beaten, but thankfully went just inches wide of the post.

There was some good passing play by Town in the disappointing first half. Such as the interlinking play by Fabian Robert and Nathan Byrne, where they played a tidy little flicked one two inside the opposition box, only for Robert to be blocked off, and that’s just one of my opportunities that showed there was no real cutting edge.

The second half however, was completely different. Town switched from a 4-3-3 to a 3-5-2 with Robert playing just off of Jonathan Obika and the formation switch worked instantly.

Within six minutes of the half Town had equalised the scoring. Obika was tackled just inside the box, with the ball falling to Jordan Williams, who played a short pass into Byrne who placed an outside of boot shot into the bottom corner.

Then, just past the sixty minute mark, Kevin Stewart picked up the ball inside his half and carried the ball far into the opposing half, before threading a ball into Byrne who poked a shot past the keeper to give Swindon the lead. At this point I’d like to point the only words written in my notes for the goal were ‘I love Byrne’.

Just six minutes later again and Byrne had his hat-trick, extending the Town lead to three goals to one. Byrne and captain Thompson played a quick one-two just inside the Bradford half, before Byrne decided to do it all himself and carry the ball past countless Bradford players. The former Spurs player then slotted the ball under the legs of the on-rushing ‘keeper giving sheer joy for him on his first career hat-trick. What a change from our feelings at half time…

There was one more goal to come. This time Turnbull the provider, finding Obika with a firm first time pass, which was controlled superbly with his first touch taking him away from his man, and his second slotting the ball past the dumbstruck ‘keeper, superb work by super Jon.

All in all, Town played a superb second half. If Swindon can manage to play like that most of the time this season, then all our hopes and dreams could maybe even come true… or maybe I’m getting a bit carried away.

To more pressing matters, with Hylton injured and Michael Smith likely to be leaving – with Barnsley the destination – the search for reinforcements in the striking department is a priority. Then to midweek, I would imagine that for the game against Exeter on Tuesday night, Town will start with a 3-5-2, onwards and upwards, COYR.

Follow Davy Richards – https://twitter.com/d_r_17

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