Swindon Town 2-0 Doncaster Rovers: Play-off hopefuls again?
Davy Richards reports on Swindon Town’s fourth win on the bounce, and first home clean sheet of the season. With murmurs around the town now speaking of sneaking into the play-off spots rather than just avoiding the drop zone
Swindon have shown some fantastic form since the turn of the year, and it was nice go to a game where I was genuinely hopeful about our chances, in fact, even expecting Town to win the game.
Town started the game with three at the back as we have recently become accustomed to, the formation, however, hasn’t been producing the clean sheets this season, but with Nicky Ajose and Jon Obika linking together up front, Swindon have been able to concede one or two goals a game and still look comfortable due to the goal threat they possess.
The game started quite slowly, partly thanks to the number of fouls committed by Doncaster, Richard Chaplow especially who had two fouls to his name within the first five minutes. The first real chance of the game came to Ellis Iandolo, who was on the end of a neat back heal from Obika. He showed his pace to get away from the Doncaster defenders, but his one-on-one shot was hit straight at the Doncaster ‘keeper and was parried away for a corner which ended up coming to nothing.
Just three minutes later Iandolo was involved again who showed nice control to hold the ball up, before playing in Ajose with a beautifully dinked ball over the top of the defence. However, Ajose’s shot was again to close to the ‘keeper, who made a decent save to keep it out and for the second time in a row the corner ended up coming to nothing again.
Just before the half an hour mark, Doncaster had their first real spell of pressure. Cedric Evina whipped a few low crosses into the box, and the final shot from just outside the box was hit way over. Although it wasn’t comfortable for the Town defence, the attack broke down relatively quickly. A few minutes later there was a lot of worried faces both on the pitch and in the crowd as Nathan Thompson went down and looked in a considerable amount of pain. He played on but looked to be hobbling for the rest of the game, so let’s hope that it was nothing serious and he’ll be fit by Saturday.
The first goal of the game came in added time in the first half. Doncaster had won a corner after a smart save from Lawrence Vigouroux at his near post. The corner was cleared and the ball found its way to Obika, who took it down nicely evading the first tackle and then released the ball to Iandolo on his left. He then threaded a lovely pass through to Bradley Barry who had space to run into on the right wing. I personally thought he should of drilled a ball across early, but he continued down the line and floated a ball to the back post. This found the in-form Michael Doughty whose header back across the box was met by Obika who got the final touch and claimed the goal to put Town into a deserved lead. Doncaster were calling for an offside, but in watching since it was clear that he was onside and the goal rightfully stood.
The second half started in a much quicker fashion than the first had. With Iandolo playing in Ajose twice in quick succession, the first he turned well and played the ball into Ajose who could never quite get the ball out of his feet and in the end only forced a save from the ‘keeper. Two minutes later the two linked up again but Ajose couldn’t beat his man. Iandolo impressed a lot, and was Town’s brightest spark for the first 60 minutes, but on the hour mark he was replaced by Fabien Robert, and just after Louis Thompson came on for Michael Doughty, who had a quiet game by his standards, but still managed to claim himself an assist.
Robert managed to make an impression on the game just five minutes after coming on, as Brandon Ormonde-Ottewill’s clearance only found its way to a Doncaster player, whose touch was poor which sent the ball into Robert’s feet. His first time pass down the left flank sent through Obika, who still had a lot to do, his pace brought him into the box and his strength kept the Doncaster defender at bay, before calmly placing the ball into the bottom left of the goal to make it 2-0 – although the positioning of the ‘keeper was slightly suspect.
After this point in the game, not much else happened barring the red card to Doncaster’s Chaplow, which was thoroughly deserved after several fouls throughout the game including a push on Jordan Turnbull and then a kick out at Louis Thompson – both of which warranted yellow cards. So on the 77th minute Chaplow made the long walk down the tunnel, and ended any hope of a Doncaster comeback. They did however put on some pressure for the last quarter of an hour. Especially after Anton Rodgers came on for the Town skipper Thompson, which left Swindon fragile at the back, but no attack from Doncaster really provided any threat and the game ended with a relatively comfortable 2-0 victory.
All in all it was a successful game for Town, who are now 13 points above the relegation zone but just four off of the play-off spots, and now have the best league form over the last five games. An overdue home clean sheet came for Swindon too, which was certainly deserved as Doncaster were limited to few chances, and those they did have were comfortably saved by Vigouroux. A special mention goes to Iandolo who was fantastic before he was subbed off, let’s hope that he can keep improving on his recent performances and turn into an important player for the Town.