By Jon Harries
At the time of writing this (Prior to the Bristol Rovers fixture) Swindon Town occupied 22nd place in League One. Former manager Richie Wellens got them promoted as Champions from League 2 last season on the controversial PPG system, but with a poor start to the season Wellens decided to jump ship for Salford City FC, no doubt attracted to the potential big money provided by the “Class of 92” ownership.
Playing an expansive brand of football and having goals in abundance from the now Blackpool striker Jerry Yates and Eoin Doyle currently at Bolton, Swindon were riding the crest of a wave coming into this season. With the pandemic taking effect plus both of the above-named strikers going to clubs that could offer them more money, Swindon were really struggling to find the goals to replace them. 27 goals this season doesn’t seem that bad but if you consider the caveat of 34 conceded then you can see where the issues lie. Injuries in a defence have played a part in this with an inconsistent and ever changing back four. Recently appointed coach John Sheridan has started from the back and tried to make them more defensively sound but in his first game in-charge they lost 3-0 at home to Accrington Stanley, the only consolation being they are one of the form sides in League 1 currently and better teams have already succumbed to the flying Stanley team, us included.
Having not won in five games at the time of writing Swindon will be looking at this game as a six pointer. Facing opposition that are just above them in the table, points and consistency will be crucial for both sides at this time of the year. They currently possess mid-table home form (13th) so will want to make the County ground a fortress. They have lost to AFC Wimbledon at home earlier on in the season alongside credible points gained against Charlton.
It may come as a surprise but if you were to name a line-up you could have a spine full of Smiths in the Robins team with no less than four in the ranks. Matej Kovar currently occupies the number one spot and the home fans are rating his performances positively. Mathieu Baudry played for the Dons in the League 2 promotion season, although he didn’t feature heavily due to injuries after he first started to get rave reviews. His time at Swindon has also been plagued by similar injuries but has now started to get a consistent run in the side. Tom Broadbent didn’t even have a contract at start of the season but due to injuries was offered one and has grasped his opportunity and has played well since. In midfield Jack Payne and Anthony Grant provide a good base to work off with their creativity and defensive awareness, and Payne is joint assist maker for Swindon alongside the player I’m going to feature later on.
Tyler Smith and Brett Pittman provide the height and skill up top, Smith is the current top scorer with 4 goals. Hallam Hope is a former Carlisle United player who had particularly good success at league 2 level. Although not the most prolific strike-force if they get their act together, they should shoot up the table especially if they start getting to grips with a creaking defence.
The player in focus for this game is Arsenal loanee Matt Smith. Highly rated at the North London side, Smith has impressed in the first part of the season with his wide range of passing, his ability to break into the box and his eye for goal. Smith could easily play for higher League 1 side or potentially a lower Championship side and he is certainly the standout player for the Wiltshire outfit.
Poole – O’Hora – Keogh – Lewington – Harvie
Kasumu – Sorensen – Fraser
Jerome – Morris
I feel this will be similar to the Plymouth game where the first goal is absolutely vital. The one mistake against Plymouth was that we didn’t start the game with any authority, we must put that right. We definitely have the quality to beat Swindon. it is all about the mindset and mentality.
Happy New Year & COYDS
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