Swindon Town 1-4 Wigan Athletic: Men Against Boys

Swindon Town’s seven game unbeaten run came to an abrupt end as Wigan Athletic extended theirs to 17 with some clinical finishing, showing why they are the best team in League One this season destined for automatic promotion writes STFC007.

On reflection, the title of the Match Report may now seem somewhat harsh, but I decided on the title when the scoreline was 0–4. This was not long after the start of the second half when Wigan scored three goals in a silly six minutes after some of the Town players seemingly lost their nerve. At that stage, it certainly looked and felt from where I was sitting Men against Boys.

Wigan dominated the game like they did during their home fixture when we lost deep into stoppage time. Then, when Ojaama, El Abd and Gladwin featured in the starting line-up, I thought we deserved something out of the game even if it was just for Town’s resolve and determination at the end of October last year; not so today unfortunately.

Wigan were deserved winners and with it, ending the little hope some fans still had for reaching the play-offs. I know, never give up until it’s mathematically impossible. But if there was any final charge for a top six finish, going into the March ‘more difficult’ (Millwall, Coventry and Wigan) fixtures, Swindon should have done better than taking just two out of a possible nine points.

Personally, I believe there was little hope of reaching the play-offs some time ago. We just did not make up enough ground and drew too many games. The stats of Ben Mayhew (from experimental361.com) from March 20, showed there was around a 2% chance for Town ending up in the play-offs with ending in the top or bottom half of the table at 50/50. The latest stats of March 27 show that the chances are negligible with now a 70% likelihood of a bottom half finish.

The gap in quality was for all to see, including those watching the match on SkySports. The distribution of the ball by Wigan was with purpose and a high tempo. They played as a well drilled team, talking constantly, coaching and guiding each other.

The lack of closing the opposition down faster, marking tighter when it mattered and making mistakes when playing out from the back ultimately cost us. There were a few bright moments from the Swindon Team, but Town were well beaten in the end with Nicky Ajose – who else – scoring the consolation goal making it 1–4.

During the match my mind wandered as it normally does and I asked myself a couple of questions.

What is the average height of a professional goalkeeper?

I can’t blame Belford for any of the goals as the errors leading up to each the goals were made well before the ball got even near him. But when it did get near him, he was not able to get near enough to make a safe. So would the extra 4“ of Lawrence Vigouroux have made any difference? Of course it’s not as easy as comparing height alone. Reaction time, athleticism, jumping power, concentration, timing, positioning and many other elements are also important; but it seemed that a few more inches would have increased the chances of getting closer. According to google, the average height is 1.89m (6’2”) with Belford 2“ below the average and Vigouroux 2” above the average if the on-line stats can be relied upon.

Who in the Swindon squad did I feel sorry for most?

As the goals were flying in at the start of the second half, I started to feel sorry for some in the squad. Some more than others though.

In the absence of Jonathan Obika, Jermain Hylton had the thankless task to try and make a difference upfront. I noted down he won his first header in the 60th minute. Not for lack of trying but physically quite a mismatch with most of the defenders he was up against in the air.

With the match being televised, I am sure the entire squad wanted to put on a good show. Unfortunately, a couple of the goals were due to errors following the dogged way of having to play out from the back, part of ‘The Swindon Way’ of playing. I am sure in hindsight, both loanees Jaime Sendles-White and Jordan Turnbull wished they had walloped the ball to safety a couple of times instead of trying to rectify things after having been played into difficulties.

Michael Doughty had a very good game. He never gave up chasing and was visibly frustrated when at times none of his team mates followed him. He was my Man of The Match but this accolade went to Town’s captain instead, who ironically not long after the announcement was made was sent off.

Nine games remaining…

So, where from here? Town still have nine games to play, starting Easter Monday against Scunthorpe United. In a little over a month, the players will have a couple of months to recuperate and prepare themselves for next season. That is those who will remain; several loanees will go back to their club. Also, we will hopefully see some depart making way for the squad to be strengthened with the aim to become more competitive next season.

In those nine games, I would like to see some of the youngsters who have been on the fringes get some game time. It would have been good to have seen what Jordan Stewart could do in a Town shirt rather than in a Grimsby one.

Whatever the remaining nine games bring, I just hope the season will end on a high with some great football to watch and some more points on the board which would do no harm either in securing some more season ticket sales.

One thing is for sure, the support shown for Swindon Town has been tremendous, especially in the last week. A great away following in the game against Coventry followed by unconditional support against Wigan. Even when 0–4 down, the Town End bellowed: “5–4, we’re gonna win 5–4, we’re gonna win 5–4”. It is not always easy when your team is well down to sing and support the players with song after song. Despite the loss, I am sure – like me – many felt proud with the crowd’s support for the team who did not allow Good Friday evening turn into a Bad Friday evening.

Next stop: Scunthorpe Away.

Happy Easter.

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