SWINDON TOWN: Di Canio's boys prove their worth to peg back Cherries

BETTER LATE THAN NEVER: Andy Williams celebrates his equaliser

BETTER LATE THAN NEVER: Andy Williams celebrates his equaliser

First published in Sport by

THIS was the day Paolo Di Canio’s Swindon Town finally came of age.

For all the glory of big league wins against high-flying opposition, cup triumphs as the underdog, ridiculous unbeaten runs and clean sheet after clean sheet, there hadn’t been a moment where everything was steeped against the Robins and they responded. Not until Saturday.

Against a Bournemouth side who were unbeaten in 17 matches and hadn’t conceded a goal in more than nine hours in the league, away from home, on a pitch better suited for mud wrestling and trailing with five minutes left, the odds were stacked against Town at Dean Court.

But in a Dorset monsoon Swindon showed all their fighting qualities and class at once, Andy Williams netted a late equaliser to cancel out Harry Arter’s opener and the Robins proved why their promotion challenge is one that must be taken seriously.

Frankly, the game should never have finished. Torrential rain from kick-off left the playing surface riddled with puddles, the bounce of the ball was erratic and any promise of fast-flowing, attractive football was instantly drowned.

The two most elegant teams in League One were therefore forced to deal in long balls and, where usually they might have chosen to maximise risk, both sides’ gameplans revolved around minimising errors.

That in patches both Town and Bournemouth managed to put together passages of pass-and-move football was testament to the quality the two teams possess. It was a shame the spectacle, from a purist’s point of view, was ruined by the weather.

Nevertheless, with the help of a noisy crowd, it was still an engaging occasion. Town had Wes Foderingham to thanks for a brilliant save from Lewis Grabban to keep the deficit to just one goal, but the visitors could quite easily have gone on to win it.

James Collins, Chris Martin and Matt Ritchie all squandered gilt-edged chances, as Swindon consolidated fifth place in the table.

The Robins enjoyed the first major opening of the game in the fifth minute. Gary Roberts sent a low cross in from the left which Ritchie controlled into the path of Tommy Miller, who saw his drive saved by David James.

In the 18th minute James was called into action again, this time holding onto Williams’ header from Ritchie’s cross as Swindon toiled well without finding a killer touch in front of goal.

Moments later, James committed himself outside the area, leaving Roberts with the opportunity to shoot at an unmanned goal, but the winger chose instead to try to find Collins and the move broke down – and that error of judgement cost Town dear in the 26th minute.

A looping cross was only half-cleared by Darren Ward, allowing Arter to pick up possession on the edge of the box, wriggle free of Miller and produce a sizzling left-footed strike into the bottom left-hand corner.

It was the Cherries’ first shot on target, and put Swindon behind in a game for the first time since Alan Judge fired home for Notts County at Meadow Lane on November 24.

Previously, in horrendous conditions, Town might have struggled to find their way back into the game. But this is now a team built of sterner stuff.

The away side should have been level in the 35th minute. Roberts, dodging puddles down the left, slid in a low cross and Collins showed great composure to take the ball into his stride and turn James. However, with the goal gaping the striker opted for power rather than precision and missed the target. The rain got heavier.

Grabban fired wide from an acute angle as Bournemouth finished the first half the stronger.

During the interval referee Phil Gibbs, the match assessor and head groundsman conducted an impromptu pitch inspection on the surface, which was rapidly coming to resemble the battleground of the Somme.

Gibbs decided it was fit for purpose, however, much to the surprise of Simon Ferry who spent most of the break throwing a ball into the mud around halfway.

Nevertheless, Town had a job to do to get back into the game and do it they did – but only after Foderingham kept them in the game.

Three minutes after half-time the stopper was on hand to save from Arter following the midfielder’s weaving run into the box before the former Crystal Palace man made two brilliant saves – from Brett Pitman’s long-range drive and Grabban’s point-blank header – as the rain got yet heavier.

Raffa De Vita’s introduction in the 65th minute almost cued a Town equaliser. The Italian’s quick feet down the left enabled him to find the space to tee up Ritchie, who saw James produce a sensational save with his feet. Ritchie turned provide a minute later, as he crossed for Martin to head at James, as Swindon huffed and puffed without blowing down the Bournemouth house.

It all seemed a lost cause until five minutes from the end. James’ poor clearance was headed back by Williams, Martin chased down the loose ball and collided with the goalkeeper, possession landed at Williams’ feet and the striker calmly stroked home from 25 yards.

Cue delirium in the stands and on the Town bench, where the importance of a point was recognised with gusto.

Martin almost won the game for Swindon with the last kick of the match, but his deflected free kick skidded just wide to leave both sides with a share of the spoils.

Di Canio was impressed by Williams’ composure in scoring his goal, saying: “It’s difficult because you feel the pressure. He had all the time to realise that he had a great opportunity with James out from the box.

“To deliver the ball straight away, to reach the goal and then deliver the ball in the net, with pressure and men on the goalline is not easy. Credit goes to him but I want to remind people that there was an action before that caused this goal.

“Chris Martin pressed, didn’t give up and challenged the ball with David James. Credit goes to Andy but we have to say that the man who came on later – and also the other two, Raffa and Simon – determined something.

“They went inside very well and they were crucial. That makes me even more satisfied because it confirms that this is a real group now.”

Comments (11)

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8:14am Mon 14 Jan 13

old town robin says...

By all accounts we dominated after the introduction of Simon Ferry, if Paolo had brought him on 15 minutes earlier, like he usually does, we may well have won this game. Strange decision not to, but he must have a good reason I guess.
By all accounts we dominated after the introduction of Simon Ferry, if Paolo had brought him on 15 minutes earlier, like he usually does, we may well have won this game. Strange decision not to, but he must have a good reason I guess. old town robin
  • Score: 0

8:45am Mon 14 Jan 13

Rebel_phish says...

With the pitch that wet, the subs should have been used from the start.
With the pitch that wet, the subs should have been used from the start. Rebel_phish
  • Score: 0

9:11am Mon 14 Jan 13

Davidsyrett says...

I was at the game and thought PdC called it right, The pitch was not suited to Ferry's game, hence keeping Miller on as long as he did, It's easy to say we dominated when Ferry came on but by the 75th min of playing in a quagmire most of the Bournemouth team were out of it, any substitution was likely to make a change, to me Rafa coming on and getting in some decent crosses also helped change the game just as much as Ferry.
I was at the game and thought PdC called it right, The pitch was not suited to Ferry's game, hence keeping Miller on as long as he did, It's easy to say we dominated when Ferry came on but by the 75th min of playing in a quagmire most of the Bournemouth team were out of it, any substitution was likely to make a change, to me Rafa coming on and getting in some decent crosses also helped change the game just as much as Ferry. Davidsyrett
  • Score: 0

10:08am Mon 14 Jan 13

Stilloyal says...

So much for Quinnie saying that Howe would have the tactical edge over Paolo. So what happened ? at 1-0 we put on our best playmaker they take theirs off , we take almost total control and get an equaliser. We could have and maybe should have won this one though.
Stick to golf Quinn and remember you are a failed football manager and can never be mentioned in the same breath as Paolo..
So much for Quinnie saying that Howe would have the tactical edge over Paolo. So what happened ? at 1-0 we put on our best playmaker they take theirs off , we take almost total control and get an equaliser. We could have and maybe should have won this one though. Stick to golf Quinn and remember you are a failed football manager and can never be mentioned in the same breath as Paolo.. Stilloyal
  • Score: 0

10:13am Mon 14 Jan 13

LeGod says...

First half we had two clear chances to score but they scored against the run of play and we should have at least been level at half time.

First twenty minutes of the second half they were going for the second goal to try and kill it off and we were defending the boggiest end but after the forst twenty minutes we got a grip of the game and we always looked like we were going to get something. Rafa was brilliant when he came on and immediatley he came on he skinned there full back twice and put in two great balls which we should have scored from. I felt the longer the game went on we looked like the team to get the winner. The ref was shocking and one of their defenders should havebeen off for pulling down Martin when he was about to go clean through but he didnt even book the guy.
It would have been an injustice if we hadnt got something from the game.
It was noce to see both team playing football the right way i thought there best player was Pugh but apart from him i would have our squad of players over theirs.
Every player gave 100% and you could see right from the start we were really up for the game.
Pity about the conditions as it was a great advert for L1.

Great save by Wes from Grabban.
Bournemouth tried all the tactics ball boys wasting time, Calamity wasting time and its unbelievable a keeper who has played at the highest level made about 3 miss kicks one of which led to our goal but according the the cherrt fans we were lucky more like sour grapes as they thought they would turn us over.
As for Jimmy Quin where are you?

Paolo has played Eddie Howe 3 times WON 2 and Drawn 1 so what do you say to that Mr Quinn. Maybe its because he's a C**P manager himself and he's jealous of Paolo's achievements.
Wel
First half we had two clear chances to score but they scored against the run of play and we should have at least been level at half time. First twenty minutes of the second half they were going for the second goal to try and kill it off and we were defending the boggiest end but after the forst twenty minutes we got a grip of the game and we always looked like we were going to get something. Rafa was brilliant when he came on and immediatley he came on he skinned there full back twice and put in two great balls which we should have scored from. I felt the longer the game went on we looked like the team to get the winner. The ref was shocking and one of their defenders should havebeen off for pulling down Martin when he was about to go clean through but he didnt even book the guy. It would have been an injustice if we hadnt got something from the game. It was noce to see both team playing football the right way i thought there best player was Pugh but apart from him i would have our squad of players over theirs. Every player gave 100% and you could see right from the start we were really up for the game. Pity about the conditions as it was a great advert for L1. Great save by Wes from Grabban. Bournemouth tried all the tactics ball boys wasting time, Calamity wasting time and its unbelievable a keeper who has played at the highest level made about 3 miss kicks one of which led to our goal but according the the cherrt fans we were lucky more like sour grapes as they thought they would turn us over. As for Jimmy Quin where are you? Paolo has played Eddie Howe 3 times WON 2 and Drawn 1 so what do you say to that Mr Quinn. Maybe its because he's a C**P manager himself and he's jealous of Paolo's achievements. Wel LeGod
  • Score: 0

10:26am Mon 14 Jan 13

hertz says...

Yep Rafa was the changing point for me, somehow he managed to handle the conditions , he seemed to be able to stand up and run with the ball , I can't see them getting that pitch fit for the game against Wigan tomorrow . As for Collins with his open goal , if he has to think he inevitably mucks it up . I think we would have all agreed a point would be an ok result regardless of the conditions . COYR
Yep Rafa was the changing point for me, somehow he managed to handle the conditions , he seemed to be able to stand up and run with the ball , I can't see them getting that pitch fit for the game against Wigan tomorrow . As for Collins with his open goal , if he has to think he inevitably mucks it up . I think we would have all agreed a point would be an ok result regardless of the conditions . COYR hertz
  • Score: 0

11:46am Mon 14 Jan 13

oldlegtrailer says...

We smashed the dug out
We smashed the dug out
Eye Aye Adio
We smashed the dug out!
We smashed the dug out We smashed the dug out Eye Aye Adio We smashed the dug out! oldlegtrailer
  • Score: 0

12:19pm Mon 14 Jan 13

Swindon1984 says...

Davidsyrett wrote:
I was at the game and thought PdC called it right, The pitch was not suited to Ferry's game, hence keeping Miller on as long as he did, It's easy to say we dominated when Ferry came on but by the 75th min of playing in a quagmire most of the Bournemouth team were out of it, any substitution was likely to make a change, to me Rafa coming on and getting in some decent crosses also helped change the game just as much as Ferry.
Was also at the game and have to agree - I don't know what more could have been done given the conditions.

OTR - it could have gone either way and to be honest first half although we had some chances it was painful at times to watch. Overall a point was a fair result and I for one was glad to leave the ground with a point rather than be annoyed we hadn't won.

Raffa definitely changed the game, final ball in a couple of times was lacking but he ran their fullback ragged once he was introduced.

Tip for Bournemouth FC, tarmac your car park, the potholes made it like wading through a lagoon on the way out!
[quote][p][bold]Davidsyrett[/bold] wrote: I was at the game and thought PdC called it right, The pitch was not suited to Ferry's game, hence keeping Miller on as long as he did, It's easy to say we dominated when Ferry came on but by the 75th min of playing in a quagmire most of the Bournemouth team were out of it, any substitution was likely to make a change, to me Rafa coming on and getting in some decent crosses also helped change the game just as much as Ferry.[/p][/quote]Was also at the game and have to agree - I don't know what more could have been done given the conditions. OTR - it could have gone either way and to be honest first half although we had some chances it was painful at times to watch. Overall a point was a fair result and I for one was glad to leave the ground with a point rather than be annoyed we hadn't won. Raffa definitely changed the game, final ball in a couple of times was lacking but he ran their fullback ragged once he was introduced. Tip for Bournemouth FC, tarmac your car park, the potholes made it like wading through a lagoon on the way out! Swindon1984
  • Score: 0

2:47pm Mon 14 Jan 13

AFCBExile says...

I was at the game Saturday and would struggle to agree with fans of either side thinking that they should have won the game. A great game of football that was credit to L1 with two very evenly matched sides that played football the right way despite the apalling conditions. If anything I think that you adapted slightly better as the game progressed playing a slightly more direct game with 2 bigger guys up front. Our front line doesn't allow us to do that with Grabban, and Thomas when he came on, running the channels which became impossible as the game wore on.

Your fans have been referring to "Calamity" James elsewhere but forget a couple of blinding saves that he did make but I suppose that's how he got his name! Really impressed by your keeper and that save from Grabban at 1-0 was world class and would have been game over.

Good luck for the rest of the season but I just get the feeling that this isn't the last that we have seen each of other this year!!
I was at the game Saturday and would struggle to agree with fans of either side thinking that they should have won the game. A great game of football that was credit to L1 with two very evenly matched sides that played football the right way despite the apalling conditions. If anything I think that you adapted slightly better as the game progressed playing a slightly more direct game with 2 bigger guys up front. Our front line doesn't allow us to do that with Grabban, and Thomas when he came on, running the channels which became impossible as the game wore on. Your fans have been referring to "Calamity" James elsewhere but forget a couple of blinding saves that he did make but I suppose that's how he got his name! Really impressed by your keeper and that save from Grabban at 1-0 was world class and would have been game over. Good luck for the rest of the season but I just get the feeling that this isn't the last that we have seen each of other this year!! AFCBExile
  • Score: 0

4:24pm Mon 14 Jan 13

Swindon1984 says...

AFCBExile wrote:
I was at the game Saturday and would struggle to agree with fans of either side thinking that they should have won the game. A great game of football that was credit to L1 with two very evenly matched sides that played football the right way despite the apalling conditions. If anything I think that you adapted slightly better as the game progressed playing a slightly more direct game with 2 bigger guys up front. Our front line doesn't allow us to do that with Grabban, and Thomas when he came on, running the channels which became impossible as the game wore on. Your fans have been referring to "Calamity" James elsewhere but forget a couple of blinding saves that he did make but I suppose that's how he got his name! Really impressed by your keeper and that save from Grabban at 1-0 was world class and would have been game over. Good luck for the rest of the season but I just get the feeling that this isn't the last that we have seen each of other this year!!
We'll be keeping an eye on eachother in the table no doubt but won't be playing again as we're out of all cups. I'd agree that a point was fair as I said earlier, can't agree with Eddie Howe saying that the conditions favoured us though, and saying that Bournemouth would have preferred better weather as a "football" side was maybe a bit of an unjustified dig at the way we play - maybe lumped it up field a bit towards the start of the season but certainly a good footballing side as has been shown in recent weeks.
[quote][p][bold]AFCBExile[/bold] wrote: I was at the game Saturday and would struggle to agree with fans of either side thinking that they should have won the game. A great game of football that was credit to L1 with two very evenly matched sides that played football the right way despite the apalling conditions. If anything I think that you adapted slightly better as the game progressed playing a slightly more direct game with 2 bigger guys up front. Our front line doesn't allow us to do that with Grabban, and Thomas when he came on, running the channels which became impossible as the game wore on. Your fans have been referring to "Calamity" James elsewhere but forget a couple of blinding saves that he did make but I suppose that's how he got his name! Really impressed by your keeper and that save from Grabban at 1-0 was world class and would have been game over. Good luck for the rest of the season but I just get the feeling that this isn't the last that we have seen each of other this year!![/p][/quote]We'll be keeping an eye on eachother in the table no doubt but won't be playing again as we're out of all cups. I'd agree that a point was fair as I said earlier, can't agree with Eddie Howe saying that the conditions favoured us though, and saying that Bournemouth would have preferred better weather as a "football" side was maybe a bit of an unjustified dig at the way we play - maybe lumped it up field a bit towards the start of the season but certainly a good footballing side as has been shown in recent weeks. Swindon1984
  • Score: 0

6:21pm Mon 14 Jan 13

swwindon61uk says...

Lot o good posts here and agree it was more Devita coming on than Ferry that changed things slightly,but we were well on top before they come on and it was just putting on fresh pairs of legs,nothing against the players subbed.
I think a draw was good bit we had a few good chances that we missed and we could also have won.
Collins open goal,Ritchie golden chance,martin headed straight at James.
Also agree Pugh was the best player on the pitch Saturday.
Lot o good posts here and agree it was more Devita coming on than Ferry that changed things slightly,but we were well on top before they come on and it was just putting on fresh pairs of legs,nothing against the players subbed. I think a draw was good bit we had a few good chances that we missed and we could also have won. Collins open goal,Ritchie golden chance,martin headed straight at James. Also agree Pugh was the best player on the pitch Saturday. swwindon61uk
  • Score: 0

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