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SWINDON TOWN 1 BRENTFORD: Are you not entertained?
IF Swindon Town aren’t to achieve the impossible this season, then they are going to make sure that anyone who watches them in the remaining four games are going to be entertained.
Of course, the play-offs are still within reach according to the calculator, but as we all know football is not about the maths, it is what happens on the pitch and elsewhere.
The win over Brentford was exhilarating. At times the visitors played Mark Cooper’s men off the park with some crisp passing and an exploitation of the flanks but it was the promotion-chasing Bees who went home stung. Yes, they had a men sent off, the wreckless Adam Forshaw was booked twice within two second half minutes for lunging tackles, first on match-winner Louis Thompson and then on Raphael Branco.
That only seemed to galvanise Mark Warburton’s men as they made better use of the space that was available to them.
However, by then they must had got the feeling that Saturday was not going to be their day at the County Ground.
The Bees arrived in Swindon knowing that a win would leave them three points away from the Championship and with how they started they must have thought that they would be in for one heck of a party on Good Friday.
But Swindon found their rhythm and Louis Thompson found Jonathan Douglas half asleep to sneak in and steal the ball to send the Robins in at the interval 1-0 up and that is how it stayed.
Mark Cooper’s side knew that they could have been two to the good, though.
Alan McCormack, the former Town defender who was booed at every opportunity by the home supporters, bundled over Alex Pritchard in the Bees box with 13 minutes on the clock.
The ex-Robin protested his innocence but the card-happy Brendan Malone was having none of it and pointed to the spot.
Up stepped Michael Smith, barracked by some Town fans throughout, and he drilled the ball to David Button’s right, only for the former Tottenham trainee to guess right and palm the ball away.
At the time it appeared a costly miss but it mattered not in the end after Louis Thompson’s intervention gave Town the win.
However, with Peterborough seeing off Coventry City, the gap between Swindon and the Posh remain at seven points as Cooper’s men look on at what might have been this season.
Let’s face it, though, who in August realistically thought come Easter Town would be so close to reaching the lottery of the play-offs? Deep down, not many.
To still even have a modicum of that dream remaining should not go unappreciated.
Cooper’s selection and tactics at times has been questioned by a section of the home fans. Young players who aren’t performing to a level that is beyond their years are heavily criticised and when the results have gone the wrong way some even call for a change at the top.
That is football, you pay your money and you are entitled to your opinion.
Yes, Cooper and his players will know that they could have done certain things differently, but for all the critics there are fans who are willing to give time to this squad, which is gaining vital experience week on week.
As for the game itself, had you been a neutral you wouldn’t have found much better entertainment in League One.
This is not about the neutrals, it is about the Town faithful who turn up every week looking for their side to send them home happy.
It started well with Jay McEveley, who has now gone 118 games without a goal, floating in a teasing free-kick from 25 yards in the second minute which evaded everyone, but this proved a false dawn for Town.
The Griffin Park men had found an area which they could exploit and utilise throughout the opening 45 minutes, the gap between Branco on the left of the defensive trio and, McEveley at left wing-back.
On a sunny afternoon it rained long diagonal balls towards Clayton Donaldson on the right touchline at times.
With no tasked with marking the winger, he was able, on more than one occasion, to cut inside and deliver dangerous crosses for Marcello Trotta.
Gratefully, the Bees’ Italian striker was unable to make the most of the opportunities presented to him, as he either found no way through a solid Swindon central defence or was unable to hit the target when he did.
Then came the moment that gave all Town fans hope - McCormack bundling over Pritchard and the referee pointing to the spot, but Smith’s effort was well saved by Button.
That save seemed to give the Bees belief that it was their day and they would be nearing the dream of the Championship as they pressed to find an opening.
But it was Town’s pressing on the stroke of half-time that proved decisive, as Douglas was caught with the ball under his feet and Louis Thompson ghosted in and slotted home past an unprotected Button.
That blow knocked the stuffing out of Brentford for the start of the second half as they conceded possession too easily allowing Swindon to push for another, but it was not to be.
The visitors regained their composure and they were the ones finding themselves being gifted the ball.
George Saville had only been on the pitch for a matter of minutes when he teed up a shot from 20 yards on the hour mark. Drilling the ball goalwards with his left foot everyone thought that was the moment Brentford would equalise.
However, Wes Foderingham had other ideas.
The young stopper flung himself to the right and pushed the stinging drive away to keep his clean sheet intact.
Brentford continued to search for a leveller in the remaining minutes but they could not find a way through a resolute Swindon defence.
Was the win deserved? Maybe, maybe not, but does it really matter? When people look back at the results of this season they will see Swindon Town 1 Brentford 0.
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