IN THEIR final league game of the League One season, relegated Swindon Town failed to finish on a high as they signed off with a 3-0 defeat to Charlton Athletic.
After having their drop to League Two confirmed with one game to go, Town’s trip to the Valley had a strange feel about it.
The home fans used the game to express their feelings towards their unpopular owner, Roland Duchâtelet, as Addicks followers assembled outside the North Stand before heading into the Valley.
Town head coach Luke Williams opted to make numerous changes to his team, which was captained by Conor Thomas, as he handed a debut to Jesse Starkey, while Will Henry, Ellis Iandolo, Islam Feruz, James Brophy and Luke Norris were also given starting berths.
There were also spots on the bench for youngster Scott Twine, who later came on to make his full debut for the club.
On-loan midfielder Rohan Ince was due to start, but the combative 24-year-old picked up an injury in the warm-up and was subsequently replaced by Anton Rodgers.
Kick-off was met with a barrage of black and white balloons from the home crowd, as well as a flurry of fake season tickets for next season’s campaign.
Both teams had little to play for and that was more than evident as the game started out at a pedestrian pace.
Late inclusion Rodgers was the first to have any real sight at goal as his free-kick pinged off the crossbar with 11 minutes on the clock.
However it would be the hosts who would land a telling first blow as Josh Magennis leapt well to get on the end of Jay Dasilva’s cross.
The striker still had plenty to do, but with plenty of time to steady himself, he steered the ball past Henry in the Town goal.
Magennis would almost double his tally in the 39th minute after Dion Conroy misjudged a lofted ball from the opposition skipper, Johnnie Jackson.
The 26-year-old was bearing down on Henry’s goal and dinked the teenager just inside the penalty area, and with the ball heading towards goal, Conroy appeared from nowhere to lash the ball off of the line.
Despite the game being played at a leisurely pace Charlton still had time to double their advantage with a couple of minutes remaining of the first half.
Jake Forster-Caskey was the man to apply the finish as his left foot met Nathan Byrne’s driven cross from the left-hand-side after the former Town man easily beat Fankaty Dabo as the Addicks went into the break two goals to the good.
After the restart the game picked up from where it had left off, Henry was forced into action eight minutes into the second instalment when he dashed off his line to smoother Jackson.
There was temporary joy for the travelling contingent an hour into the game as Feruz bundled Norris’ ball into the net, only for it to be ruled out for offside.
However two did become three for the home side shortly after when Ricky Holmes was able to slot the ball into the far corner from just inside the Town box with 25 minutes remaining.
Williams responded with a triple change. Jon Obika came on alongside John Goddard and Scott Twine at the expense of Feruz, Iandolo, and Starkey.
With 15 minutes left of the game, Swindon were able to carve out a half-chance when Dabo’s lofted ball was nodded down by substitute Goddard.
His header was met by the right-boot of Norris, but the summer signing saw his effort charged down by Patrick Bauer.
After a short break due to a flare being thrown on the pitch, Magennis was again causing the Town defence problems.
The striker was slight more ambitious the third time around, attempting an acrobatic volley on the penalty spot.
While the 26-year-old got decent contact on Chris Solly’s cross, he was unable to keep it down as he fired high and wide of the mark.
The closing stages weren’t the greatest of spectacles as Charlton eased their way through without and threat coming from William’s side.
With less than 10 minutes to go the Valley began to have an ominous feeling about it and the home fans streamed onto the field to continue their protests when the full-time whistle sounded.