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SWINDON TOWN 4 BOURNEMOUTH 0: Did that change your mind, Eddie?
I WONDER if Bournemouth chairman Eddie Mitchell would still not swap Paul Groves for Town boss Paolo Di Canio after watching his side well and truly beaten in Wiltshire?
Swindon began the fortress County Ground rebuilding process in style as two goals from Matt Ritchie and strikes from Andy Williams and Adam Rooney saw them storm back into the play-off places with a 4-0 win, while all the Cherries fans had to shout about was their desire for Groves to be removed from his job at the earliest opportunity.
While the visitors looked short of ideas and lacking in shape, Di Canio’s side created chance after chance and looked well organised at the back as they restricted Groves’ side to only one clear-cut chance all afternoon.
Town used the width they were offered by their opponents to their full advantage, as time and again Tommy Miller slung the ball out to either Ritchie or Gary Roberts, who more often than not made something happen.
The duo, between them, had a hand in all four goals, and it could have been even more if there had been a red shirt on hand to convert any of the numerous balls which flashed across the box during the course of the 90 minutes.
Town were solid at the back too, with Nathan Thompson particularly impressing in a performance where the youngster barely lost a tackle or a header or misplaced a pass, while Jay McEveley dealt with the threat of Lewis Grabban well when the striker drifted out wide in the second period.
Swindon are unlikely to be afforded so much space down the flanks on many more occasions this season, but with Ritchie keen to cut inside and Williams’ desire to drift to the touchline, League One defences have a job on to keep all of Town’s threats quiet at once between now and the end of the season.
The home side could have taken the lead as early as the second minute, as Williams muscled out his opponent and barged his way into the box and pulled the ball back well, only for James Collins to fire his shot wide.
Grabban fired a long-range effort not too far wide as Bournemouth struck their first warning sign, but Town soon began their bombardment from the flanks as both Thompson and Ritchie flung balls into good areas which didn’t quite find a Town shirt.
Although Ritchie hadn’t quite found his range with his crossing, the same couldn’t be said of his shooting, as he robbed Wes Fogden and fired is shot into the top corner past Shwan Jalal as he has so often in a Town shirt.
Town never seem content to sit on a lead, and continued to attack from the kick off before Roberts whipped in an inviting looking cross which was deflected behind. The resulting corner was only cleared as far as Ritchie, but the winger couldn’t repeat the trick as he drilled a shot harmlessly wide.
Roberts again found space out wide and this time got his cross into the box, but Williams was inches away of connecting for what surely would have been Town’s second goal.
Skipper Miles Addison headed wide before Grabban went down in search of a penalty for the visitors, but they soon slipped further behind as Roberts’ best cross of the afternoon found Williams in acres of space to head home.
It was no more than Town deserved, but the two-goal lead saw them take their foot off the gas ever so slightly, which allowed Bournemouth to get a slight foothold in the game without ever really creating any meaningful chances.
Williams saw a shot trickle into the arms of Jalal before McCormack went on a marauding run which only ended in the Town skipper fouling opposite number Addison.
For all their possession Town could have easily found themselves only a goal up at the interval, but for Wes Foderingham’s superb one-handed save to deny Tubbs. The Town keeper threw himself to his right to make the save, but with Ward struggling to reach the rebound Foderingham made a tackle with his feet to clear the danger.
The second half began exactly the same manner of the first as Williams delivered a good cross to an empty penalty area, before the visitors went straight down the other end to win a corner.
But their set piece only served as the starting point for another Town attack as Miller headed clear to Roberts, and the winger stormed forwards and fed the ball to Collins who was only able to lose control in Cherries territory.
Having played creator all afternoon Roberts had a go himself but lifted his shot over the bar, and seconds later Williams cut inside and fired his shot into the legs of Jalal.
Rooney replaced Collins, and his first act was to shoot straight at Jalal from a tight angle before a number of good runs pushed the away side back.
Thompson advanced down the right after a one-two with Ritchie and was chopped down near the touchline, winning the free-kick which would eventually lead to Town’s third. Ritchie took aim and whipped in a ball which bounced in the six yard box, and the flight and lack of pace on the cross deceived Jalal as the ball nestled in the bottom corner.
With the game won Town were able to relax, but despite taking pace out of the game the home side still pushed forward, and Williams had a shout for a penalty turned down before Rooney acrobatically turned another Ritchie delivery into the Town End.
But the Irishman did eventually register his first at the County Ground as he found himself on the end of a good move involving Roberts and McEveley to fire low and hard into the bottom corner.
Roberts and Miller could both have added a fifth, but the pair fired over as the full-time whistle went.