PAUL Swindlehurst says Swindon have confounded expectations in 2013 despite the loss of key players.

Nicky Watt and Chris Jones departed for pastures new while Matias Perkkio is still at home in Finland following the death of his father, and is scheduled to return next weekend.

However, with new signings Henri Sandvik and Ollie Betteridge on board and a tougher collective mental outlook, D-man Swindlehurst feels the Link Centre side have got their just rewards.

“We’ve had setbacks this season but we’ve come straight back and considering we’ve lost a few players, we’ve done well to get some wins on the board,” said Swindlehurst.

“I think people expected us to have a slump after Nicky (Watt) and Jonesy (Chris Jones) left and Matias went home, but the team pulled together, bonded and worked a lot harder.

“You get players leaving at any team but how you cope with that comes down to characters in the dressing room. If anything we’ve improved since those players left.”

Swindon face Peterborough and Telford this weekend, teams lower in the table with the former currently occupying the eighth and final play-off spot.

“We need to get four points because we need to be challenging for that top five,” said Swindlehurst.

“Peterborough have been playing well recently and I’m sure it will be a good game on Saturday, and two points will help us open up a gap on them and close in on the teams above us.

“Then we can go and get two points at Telford on Sunday.”

The Phantoms are just five points behind Swindon while Telford are 29 points down and rooted to the bottom of the table.