Struggling to find any answers at the County Ground
STFC007 has struggled to find any positives or answers following Town’s 0-1 defeat to Burton Albion…
I must admit that I’ve been struggling to write this match report, mainly because my reports always try to include some positives about the game.
After mentioning this stance on social media, I received a number of replies, however none of which referred to the game itself though: “It was sunny”, “the pies were hot” and “due to additional staff in the Legends, the queues were shorter”.
If these were the only positives reported by supporters, this shows how disappointing the performance and result against Burton was.
The second half was somewhat better than the first, but throughout, Swindon lacked belief and conviction. The game saw Louis Thompson make his return to play alongside his brother Nathan and a first home start for Henrik Ojamaa.
Town had plenty of the ball, but most of the play took place in our own half with Burton pressing high up the pitch – to which we did not have an answer.
With most of midfield lacking any serious movement or willingness to receive the ball, and the imperative to build up from the back whatever the risk, this led to some frustration on as well as of the pitch. Many back passes, together with some suicidal defending at times, led to Jordan Williams reacting to some of the fans in the Town End after the crowd had made their feelings clear.
There are a lot of things going on, both on and off the pitch.
In general I try not to waste too much energy on things I can’t control, but watching my football team under perform can be quite frustrating.
Instead of getting worked up, I think about some of the things I see around me and here’s some questions that occurred to me during the game:
- Why did Anton Rogers and Louis Thompson decide to wear long sleeved shirts and Nicky Ajose wearing skins underneath his shirt in the warm September afternoon?
- What was going through the mind of the guy in the Don Rogers stand with the ball in his hand, with 5 minutes to go and 0-1 down, ‘teasing’ the Town player on the pitch by pretending to throw it before eventually doing so?
- Would this be the last home game in full sunshine this year?
- Not knowing much about pitch management, would longer studs help players from slipping, or should the grass be cut shorter instead and not watered just before play starts?
- If a player is injured, why not start with a recognised replacement for that position instead of re-juggling several positions?
I still don’t have any answers, but I did escape the doom and gloom around me in the stands for a while.
It’s all about The Team
The euphoria at the end of the transfer window has waned somewhat following disappointing results and performances.
On paper, we have a strong squad. It’s up to Cooper to put the right player in their best position and turn a group of individuals into a well functioning team on the pitch.
We all have opinions on what the best team or formation is and it’s easy to comment after the game, but in the end it’s not down to us.
However, with the players Swindon have available, we should be able to put a balanced defense, midfield and attack together whatever the system, without the need to play people out of position, notwithstanding wholesale injuries.
Ultimately, it’s the result, not the performance, that shapes fans’ opinions
Had Nathan Thompson steered his volley inside the back post, Louis Thompson applied a little less force and more accuracy in his shot in the second half, or Wes Thomas a bit more composed in either half, Swindon could possibly have won the game.
The reaction would have been so different; most focus would have been on the inspired substitutions, Plan B or Power’s nous whilst the performance would have been the same.
Lack of organisation in the defense remains an issue
Still too many errors are being made across the back line. A lack of anticipation, belated reactions and more than one player going for the same ball, are just some of the examples why Swindon’s defense remains fragile.
During corners and free kicks, players do not stay with their man, or do not enough to win the second ball. Burton’s goal saw a mixture of errors, but it’s not just the once, but a recurring issue. Better organisation could improve matters.
In addition to the defensive pressures, when Swindon does have ball possession, too little movement in midfield to receive the ball means there is further pressure on the defenders to make things happen. We have all seen some of the comical situations that resulted.
The League is wide open
At the start of the season, who’d have thought, other than their supporters, that Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink’s Burton Albion would be at the top of League One?
There were some pre-season favourites but none have yet impressed like some did in previous League One seasons. For now it makes it all very interesting in League One.
But as players get more used to each other, the performance of some teams will improve as they look to put a winning run of results together.
Swindon have, on paper, the capacity to do this as well. On Saturday we have another home game. This time against Colchester. By the end of the game we will have completed one fifth of the season. With positive support from the stands, it’s time for the players to show their collective potential.