Swindon 1-2 Oldham: Power’s trip proves unsuccessful

Swindon have now failed to win in their last nine matches, after another abysmal performance, this time against Oldham Athletic, where yet again Town’s tactical failures showed reports Davy Richards

It seems ridiculous to think that just two months ago I had written about a fantastic 4-1 showing against Bradford City. At that point, me and many others, were full of optimism for this season. However, now after the sacking of Mark Cooper, and the consistently awful showings from Town, I don’t quite know where it all went wrong.

First things first, Lee Power proved to us that Mark Cooper wasn’t behind a lot of the problems. Instead that it was he himself. Prior to the game Power pointed out that we weren’t playing like our old selves, but somehow managed to do exactly the same thing in this match, even though he had put himself in charge. In fact, the only difference I could note, was the very rare sighting of a long diagonal ball – which I counted three of from Adam El-Abd towards James Brophy.

Barring that, it was the same Town we’ve been watching all season, and as Oldham’s twitter feed pointed out – “Latics happy for Swindon to have possession in their own half. As soon as they come into our half, Latics are straight on them’” – the only time we had any real time on the ball, was in our own half, just putting the pressure on ourselves. This replicated the Town I watched at Millwall, or Oxford, or any other of the recent games I’ve had the ‘pleasure’ of watching. So please Mr Power, please tell me what’s going to change if you are still going to be dictating the style of play and the transfers?

The signs were there right from the beginning that nothing had changed. As not long into the game, Town were passing the ball rather worryingly around the defence, almost getting Lawrence Vigouroux caught in possession with the ball, something which we witnessed less than two weeks again I believe..?

Nonetheless, Town got away with it this time. And just on the tenth minute mark, Vigouroux had made an incredible triple save. The first shot came from the edge of the 6-yard box, the ‘keeper parried this one away, the next a header which Vigouroux had to scramble across his box and reach to push away, before the final header was caught. A few minutes later Michael Higdon hit a good 30-yard half volley, audacious more than anything, but Vigs kept it out and collected it rather easily really.

Towns first real chance of the game came around the 20th minute. A corner was won after a good ball from Yaser Kasim was cleared, as the ball came in it looked to me as if El-Abd was being held, but the referee didn’t think so, the ‘keeper came to collect the corner and managed to fumble it. Somewhere within a scramble for the ball, a Town shot came off, but it was cleared off the line and eventually came to nothing except a meek Oldham counter attack..

With the game providing very little excitement just past the half hour mark, it started to seem as if both teams were going to be happy to just ride out a 0-0 draw. There was no creativity from either side and just as I was writing all of this down, Oldham went and scored, oh dear. It was way too easy for the away side. A long goal kick, flicked down and within two passes on the floor the ball found its way to Mark Jones, who made himself enough space to curl a shot in from just outside the box. And just like that Swindon were losing yet again. In fairness, it was a very well taken goal, but it took just five passes from a goal kick for them to score. Within five passes for Town, there’s a fair chance the ‘keeper will still be on the ball. As far as the chances went, that was about it until half-time.

There was one major change for Town in the second half, Power made his way down to the touchline to embrace his new Manager/Chairman role. Although he didn’t exactly seem animated, in fact every time I looked over he was just leaning casually against the dugout.

The first real shot on target for Town came just before the 60th with Drissa Traore managing to turn his man after a good pass and move. Although the shot was straight at the Latics ‘keeper, and just like at Millwall, when the first shot on target came in, many fans celebrated it like a goal, us Town fans do always hold a good sense of humour, even in the worst of times. Shortly after this Jeremy Balmy made his way on for Brophy, who had little impact on the game, the same can be said for Balmy in the half hour he had to show himself.

Town started to pick up the pace with 15 minutes to go. Brandon Ormonde-Ottewill, started to use his pace and take on his man, something which earlier on in the season he was not doing anywhere near as much, much to my annoyance. He carved out two chances. The first coming from a quick ball from Anton Rodgers, although BOO’s cross was collected easily, and then moments later Balmy made a good ran, played it to Yaser Kasim who switches the ball to BOO on the left flank, who takes on his man and wins Town a corner, although Balmy’s header was easily collected.

AJOSE SCORES! Finally, after 85 minutes of dull, backwards passing football, Town have equalised. After earlier criticising for regularly still having the ball with the ‘keeper after five passes, Town may have happened to score within five passes – although my point stands as this isn’t something which happens enough. The move started with a short goal kick from Vigs, played back to him, who finds Rodgers in space just before the halfway line. Anton played the ball to Gladwin who takes his first touch on the turn before threading in Nicky Ajose, who saw his first shot saved, but the follow up was a beautifully taken dink over everyone and into the top right corner, a very well taken goal.

Fans are now cheering Town on to go and get a winner now, so what happens? That’s right, awful passing around our own area leads to an Oldham winning goal, just a minute after we’d finally got ourselves back into the game. Although there are several to blame, a large proportion has to be put on Kasim, a man with undoubtable talent, who just hasn’t shown it for some time now. A poor pass intended for Raphael Rossi-Branco found no one but a blue shirt, and Danny Philliskirk added the final touch to finish the game off and make it 2-1 to Oldham.

The most annoying thing about the match, is not that we lost, if I’m honest, I wasn’t even that shocked by it, it’s that we sack our manager, but continue to play near identical football. Town retained the same 4-3-3 system that has been used more than any other this season, and using the same players, when people like Jordan Stewart are on the bench. While these benchwarmers haven’t proved themselves, but neither has anyone on that pitch to a great extent, why not take a risk, because having one striker, in my opinion, doesn’t work for Town.

I hope that whoever takes over, be it Martin Ling or Shaun Derry – who were both spotted at the Country Ground – or someone else, actually puts their foot down and tries to resolve some of the problems residing in the football we play. Supporters deserve better than to sit and watch this, if we lose I can accept that, but to constantly lose to stupid mistakes and poor defending, why can’t this be resolved? This problem has been underlying for the past two seasons, except it wasn’t so bad when we were winning. Town need to keep the passing football by all means, after all that is ‘the Swindon brand’, but solve the defensive issues, or at least try.

On to Coventry, we can only hope that things will pick up. COYR.

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