SWINDON Town turned a two-goal half-time deficit around to record their first away win since November 12 with a brilliant performance at Port Vale this afternoon.
Despite falling behind to goals from Doug Loft and Tom Pope, Swindon were the better side in the first half and they made sure their dominance paid off in the second period as strikes from Nile Ranger, Alex Pritchard and Nathan Byrne handed the visitors a memorable win.
Town manager Mark Cooper opted for an attacking line-up at Vale Park, restoring Pritchard and Michael Smith in place of Ben Gladwin and Yaser Kasim, while Troy Archibald-Henville made his first Swindon start of the season as Raphel Rossi Branco dropped to the bench. The suspended Jay McEveley was replaced by Byrne, while new signing Jacob Murphy had a place amongst the substitutes.
The Robins bossed the majority of the first half, with Pritchard popping up all over the pitch to create chances and test Chris Neal himself, yet two moments of sloppy defending left the visitors two goals behind at the break.
Loft gave the hosts the lead in the 20th minute. Jennison Myrie-Williams turned Darren Ward inside out on the right and his low cross was turned in by the Port Vale skipper, who had stolen in front of his marker.
Four minutes before half-time Pope doubled the Valiants’ advantage. A clearance struck a Town player on the back and rebounded to the unmarked striker, whose shot trickled over the line after Wes Foderingham did well to get down to it.
Town handed themselves a lifeline in the 51st minute. A smooth counter attack saw Smith pull the ball back from the byline for Pritchard, who delivered a delicate cross to the far post where Ranger nodded home.
Six minutes later the Robins came within centimetres of restoring parity as Pritchard danced down the right and fed Smith, whose blistering drive cannoned off a post, before Ranger struck the crossbar after going clear following Anthony Griffith’s slip.
Resurgent Swindon were level in the 65th minute, however, and in some style as Pritchard whipped a brilliant free-kick into the top right-hand corner of Neal’s net from 25 yards.
The magic didn’t stop there from the away side. Three minutes later they had the lead for the first time in the game. Another blitzkrieg counter attack saw Pritchard find Smith, whose cross was bundled home by Byrne at the back post. And, amongst howling winds and driving rain, they held firm for a hugely valuable win.