YEOVIL TOWN 0 SWINDON TOWN 2: Away-day heroes put a smile on our face AGAIN (From Swindon Advertiser)
Get involved! Send photos, video, news & views. Text SWINDON NEWS to 80360 or email us
YEOVIL TOWN 0 SWINDON TOWN 2: Away-day heroes put a smile on our face AGAIN
HOW often this season has the Swindon Town squad gone away from home and dragged their club and its fans kicking and screaming, or rather cheering and gleaming, from their very lowest points?
Against Stevenage in October former manager Paolo Di Canio focused on “hostile environments” and the personal affront that was the transfer embargo. The atmosphere around the County Ground seemed fractured by mutual animosity. The players blitzed their second-placed hosts 4-0.
In February Di Canio was playing hard to get, dodging questions about his future and generally turning the Town travelling party into a national media speculation circus. The Robins had three outfield players on the bench at Colchester, several of whom were coughing their guts out the night before. They ground out a 1-0 win.
On February 19, just 24 hours after their manager had walked out to their surprise, Town’s players had to win at Tranmere to go top of the table. They destroyed their promotion-chasing rivals 3-1.
Three weeks ago, with a new board and a new manager and a lingering sense of uncertainty, the Robins made their first ever trip to a resurgent Coventry with just a day of training with the new regime under their belt. In the last five minutes they fought back to win 2-1.
And so to Huish Park last night. A Somerset scene set against a backdrop of discontent and borderline distress. Whispers, rumours and conjecture merging together to form a concerned mass of voices, all lamenting the state of the club away from the field of play.
Yet once again, to the credit of this extraordinarily resilient group of players, another away win against another top-eight side was secured thanks to Adam Rooney’s penalty and James Collins’ late strike.
After a desperately poor first half, Town stuck at the task in the second and reaped the rewards from their tenacity and self-motivation. They’ve been through adversity before, they’re used to it now. In fact they’re thriving on it.
Perhaps Swindon should consider being in turmoil every week. With eight games to go the Robins are a win away from the top spot in League One. Not bad for a crisis club.
Andy Williams, who was roundly booed by the Yeovil crowd on his first return to his former club, had the first sight of goal of the game after two minutes.
The striker collected the ball at the back post after Adam Rooney broke into the box but fired tamely along the ground at Marek Stech.
Two minutes later it was the Swindon forward’s namesake, Gavin Williams, who set up Joseph Edwards inside the visitors’ penalty area. Town allowed the midfielder far too much space 14 yards from goal but he could only lob the ball over Wes Foderingham’s crossbar.
Rooney, playing alone up front, didn’t show the necessary brawn to see off the challenge of Dan Burn after being set through the middle by Alan McCormack’s volleyed through-ball in the seventh minute and three minutes later, when he did outmuscle the towering centre-back, his lob was straight at Stech.
Yeovil looked dangerous on the break, as once again Swindon struggled to fall into shape while backtracking, and James Hayter should have done better than volley over from close range following Gavin Williams’ cross.
From the 10th minute, however, the game descended into the kind of fare you’d expect to pay a fiver to be part of on a hungover Sunday morning. Careless passing, rash tackles and a playing surface primed for this year’s crop with its ruts and rivets hardly gave the watching Sky Sports audience a true indication of the quality of League One.
With Tommy Miller nigh on invisible in the middle of midfield, McCormack and Simon Ferry operated admirably in the centre, dodging the various divots of turf like slalom skiers as they tried to retain control of proceedings.
But the class and attacking pedigree of both teams appeared to totally dissipate. It was unpleasant to watch.
With three minutes remaining Town had a glorious chance to sneak the ugliest of leads from the ugliest of first halves when the ball fell at Darren Ward’s feet inside the area. However, from six yards out, Ward’s hack took a deflection and dribbled narrowly wide.
It was the most excitement generated by 35th stagnant minutes of football, and thankfully the standard improved after the break.
McCormack lashed a right-footed drive over from 18 yards before Gary Roberts had the ball in the back of the net in the 53rd minute, only for referee Keith Stroud to disallow his effort for a push on Luke Ayling in the build-up. On first glance it looked a soft decision.
Ten minutes later Town were on the front foot again and only a good save from Stech prevented Adam Rooney from flicking Roberts’ cross home. McCormack was next to try his luck, lobbing over after Stech had half-cleared a Roberts free-kick, but Yeovil still threatened on the counter.
Thompson’s stunning late block denied Paddy Madden after he was put through on goal by strike partner Hayter, while Ed Upson thrashed an attempt wide from 18 yards.
Kevin MacDonald threw Collins on in place of Simon Ferry and altered the structure of his team with 20 minutes, and the move almost paid immediate dividends as the substitute turned Ben Gordon inside the box and his left-footed curler produced a superb save from Stech.
It looked like the game could be meandering towards stalemate before Roberts refused to give up on a long through-ball from McCormack in the 76th minute, beat Stech too it and won a penalty as the Czech clattered into him just inside the area.
Rooney slotted the resultant spot-kick home and Town had 13 minutes to hang onto a lead.
Yeovil responded with a concentrated period of possession and territory. Madden failed to chip Foderingham from all of 30 yards and Hayter sliced wide but, while the Glovers surged forward in search of a valuable equaliser, Swindon hit them with a clinical sucker punch.
In the final minute of five of added time, McCormack galloped from midfield, released Collins and the former Shrewsbury man did the rest, drilling beyond Stech.
Once again, after a week where fans have been subjected to uncertainty and confusion off the field of play, the Town squad delivered the perfect tonic. Where would this club be without them?