Town pass-pass-pass their way to safety
Richard Selbourne watched a pass or two as Swindon Town beat Chesterfield and secured their status in League One for 2016/17…
Swindon ‘why use one pass when six will do’ Town once again tested the patience of their fans when they cruised to a comfortable victory over fellow strugglers Chesterfield at a cold, but sunny County Ground. The first in nine games, it was a significant victory as it made relegation a mathematical impossibility with just a couple of fixtures remaining.
Sometimes it was a bit like being at a children’s party, watching a game of pass the parcel where the music never stops. I’m no fan of the long-ball game and love the fact that Luke Williams is building a team around skillful ball-players, but occasionally (ok, more than occasionally) the lack of purpose and direction can be frustrating.
Yet, the home side started purposefully. The Town attacked down both flanks and through the middle with Doughty making himself available for threaded through balls from Kasim and the Thompson Twins. We could easily have gone ahead in the opening minutes when Obika clipped the ball in from the right and Ajose showed how good he is in both boxes by blocking Branco’s goal-bound shot.
Brophy and Barry were bright and busy and, once again, showed what good prospects they are. If only their final pass could match the accuracy of all those other passes.
Doughty looked exactly what he is: a league above most of the other players on the pitch. I live in hope that we can lure him back next season, although I suspect he must be destined for slightly greater things.
Individually, Branco, Turnbull and Nathan look strong but, as a unit, they still seem to offer up an equal number of chances to an opposition that only has 30% of the ball.
The first 45 minutes ended with the Town well on top, but unable to capitalise on their territorial advantage and always looking liable to coincide one on the break. Sound familiar? Thankfully, stand-in ‘keeper Kean looked unflappable when called upon.
Half-time: a hot dog for me and a cheeseburger for the lad. Pass-pass-pass the mustard, pass the ketchup.
The second half followed a similar pattern to the first. Obika was unable to adjust his feet quickly enough to a spill from the keeper and spooned over from two yards out. Doughty hit the inside of the post from outside the box and the ball span along the goal line past the other post and out for a goal kick. (How can it do that?)
We kept hold of the ball but didn’t create anything like the number of chances our possession deserved, still making more passes than every Mastermind contestant in history put together.
The winning goal came in the 77th minute and summed up the performance, and the season, perfectly. Brad Barry had space down the right and everyone in the Don Rogers stand, myself included, howled for him to deliver the perfect cross into the box. Brad knew better. He cut inside and gave a short pass to Kasim. Yasser played a neat one-two with Doughty and advanced towards goal. Entering the box, he was somehow allowed to, yes you’ve guessed it, pass the ball calmly into the far corner of the net. There must have been a deflection or some strange distraction because, despite the weakness of the shot, the Chesterfield ‘keeper barely moved a muscle as the ball rolled past him.
Town never looked like giving up their advantage, particularly when Raglan was shown a red card for an innocuous second yellow late in the game.
We arrived back in the car just in time to hear Luke Williams talking to BBC Wiltshire. Say what you like about the man, he does give great interview. He bigged up Kasim, Brophy and Barry and anyone else whose name was dropped into the conversation. He loves his players and, for that reason alone, they must love playing for him.
And when asked if he felt he was long-term Head Coach material, he gave a polite “pass”. What else?
Chesterfield started deep and just got deeper. The idea of turning them with longer balls or hitting early crosses into the box disappeared as soon as it was clear that Novak was going to be the only man even going into our half. Moving the ball around and finding gaps for 1-2s between them was the only way to make anything happen. Especially since they were looking for the chance to counter of any missplaced stuff. And we did make a lot happen with plenty of good chances and 20 shots taken.
That said we got Barry and Brophy in behind them a few times, particually since Kasim spread the play so many times in a way we have lacked. Delivery was still an issue, particularly since Barry does struggle to beat a man 1v1 and so it was very disappointing to see him hitting one straight out of play.
Also, but for two close-range clearances, we would have scored from a short corner (Novak? on the line) and Ajose’s arse from Branco’s shot after Barry and the ‘keeper exchanged passes. The bloke behind me would have choked to death on his own scorn.
Listening back to Steve White, Sam Parkin and Yaser Kasim as I type this and they put the same points about the depth of defence and how to play them, so I’m not sure I agree with the motif of the report that Town over-passed it at all.
Fair play, Stfconly. When the whistle blows, the red mist forms and my powers of analysis evaporate faster than this season’s play-off challenge. I accept your view of the game does make more sense than mine – I could never do this job professionally as I tend to give a rabid fan’s eye view more than that of a Match of the Day pundit. I still like doing it though!
I wasn’t saying anyone was right or wrong, just putting my opinion too. I enjoyed the report and commented because of its quality – it is easy to ignore something badly written. Good reports and writing stimulates debate if you agree or not.