“EVERYONE’S expecting a loss, aren’t they? So we’ve got to prove everyone wrong”.
Massimo Luongo’s got it about right. Such is Swindon Town’s form away from home this season, tonight’s trip to high-flying Walsall is not being treated with an awful lot of optimism by pundits and fans associated with the Robins.
Town haven’t tasted victory on the road since November 12 and in the six matches since the win at Colchester they have picked up just two points. Given that awful run, it’s remarkable Luongo and Town are still challenging for a play-off place but they find themselves five points off their hosts this evening, who currently occupy sixth spot.
However, Walsall have hardly been exceptional at the Banks’s Stadium this term - the Saddlers have won less than half their home games, scoring just 15 times in 13 matches - and Luongo thinks it may be the perfect opportunity for Swindon to upset the form book and lay down a statement of intent.
“They beat us here and I remember them being quite decent,” he said. “They were probably the best footballing side we’ve played. It’s up to the gaffer what we do and see what we’ve done wrong.
“Everyone’s expecting a loss, aren’t they? So we’ve got to prove everyone wrong.
“We have bad games – Stevenage and Shrewsbury away last time – at Gillingham we had a slight improvement although some players didn’t turn up. We’ve had a few players come in now as well so it might be a bit different. We might have to try something new.”
Luongo thinks a strikeforce pairing of Michael Smith and Nile Ranger could do a lot of damage in League One during the remaining 19 games of the season. Smith scored twice on his Town debut on Saturday, while Ranger came off the bench to score once and set up another as the Robins ran out 3-1 winners.
“We didn’t see much of (Smith) in training but he’s got a couple of nice goals and he’s somebody who’s going to work for the team as well. He always wants to get on the ball and help people out and that’s a good attitude,” said Luongo.
“With Nile there were two big men. They’re difficult to beat in the air and one’s going to run all game. Having them both there is a massive threat, I wouldn’t want to be a defender against them.
“Having two number nines is great. They are different. They’re both good in the air but they have different qualities and different games call for different players.”