By Jon Harries
Whatever the internal targets of the squad are between now and the end of the season, 6 points and 3 goals with 2 clean sheets is a very solid start.
Tuesday was a potential banana skin away at Bristol Rovers. One change was made from the Portsmouth win with Josh McEachran replacing Andrew Surman in midfield. Bristol Rovers pressed from the start and got in the faces of the Dons, and Hanlan forced a save from Fisher, but with our first attack we took the lead. Great link up play between O’Riley and Grigg which led to a stinging shot for the latter, the Rovers keeper palmed it away, but the rebound fell to Fraser who slotted in from close range. Bristol Rovers huffed and puffed with no real end product or ideas if truth be told, and it looked like they’d lost belief that they could stay up. The Dons a constant threat had Sorinola hit the bar and Laird forced a great save before the end of the half which the lads played in a very professional manner.
The second half started with a triple substitution for the Gas as Joey Barton tried to get some “purpose” into his team. They came out with a spring in their step but again no end product. The vital second goal came on the hour mark when a ball was fizzed across the area that gave Darling and Jules chances, and after a couple of deflections Will Grigg was in the right place to tap in, that’s 7 goal involvements in 11 starts for the loan striker now. Bristol did win a late penalty when Harry Darling fouled in the area after Lewie was robbed of possession on the halfway line, Fisher though preserved his clean sheet with a comfortable save from Leahy. Full time and the dizzy heights of 10th.
Swindon Town picked up a crucial 3-1 win at home to Portsmouth. Brett Pittman with a double either side of Ronan Curtis strike for Pompey for a rejuvenated side playing for their L1 survival. Tyler Smith confirmed the win late on which was vital given results around them. This win was after 5 defeats in a row which forced John Sheridan to resign his job, and this on top of possible administration sanctions that could affect them either this season or next.
With 79 goals conceded Swindon are on their third goalkeeper of the season in Lee Camp, former Don Mathieu Baudry can’t stay fit long enough for a stretch of games. Zeki Fryers and Paul Caddis provide experience in defence and with creative flair in midfield its Jack Payne and Matt Palmer with Joel Grant providing the steel. Up top they have really struggled replacing Eoin Doyle and Jerry Yates although with Pittman, Hope, and Smith they should have had enough to be competitive IMHO.
Scott Twine has had a stellar season with and without Swindon. He was sent on loan to Newport to gain experience and has several contenders for goal of the season in both L1 and L2. Not afraid of a shot outside the area I imagine teams will be looking at him in the summer with 8 goal contributions since his return in January. Still only 21 a lot will fall on his young shoulders for the rest of the season and his partnership with Payne in midfield will be one to watch on Saturday.
Predicted Line Up
Laird – Lewington – Darling – Jules – Sorinola
Surman – Kasumu – O’Riley – Fraser
Minimal changes expected again in what is in effect an extended pre-season, expect the midfield battle to be key in any result.
I’m going to go for a 3-1 Dons win. The standards have been set. I don’t expect performance levels to drop at all. O’Riley, Grigg, and Brown with the goals.
THE BIG MATCH PREVIEW IS SPONSORED BY
12 Drakes Mews, Crownhill, MK8 0ER
Tel No – 01908-565904