THIS WAS a sorry performance from a Swindon Town squad lacking in motivation, drive and – to be frank – care.

Who can blame them? Outspoken manager Richie Wellens stated he has no desire to keep the majority of the squad in contract next season, so what can two end-of-season dead-rubber games against lowly Cheltenham Town and Notts County offer with the beach looming?

Unsurprisingly, it was the driven, hard-working yet still sloppy Cheltenham that were simply laughing at their county neighbours by half-time.

Of course, Town staged a late fight back – but who was there to see that? Maybe 500 of the 1,100 plus travelling supporters at tops. Like the majority of players, fans simply lost faith.

The sorry performance was mirrored by the broken scenes in the away end – claims of fighting between Swindon fans. Some got thrown out.

All in all, a day to forget and move on from. But what direction the club takes from here really is anyone’s guess.

Within a month, the fan base has gone from plastering ‘#WellensBall’ and ‘Wellens at the wheel’ on social media to calls for him to be sacked, chairman Lee Power also fell under that scrutiny bracket.

Since that day at Bury at the end of March, performances against Yeovil, Newport, Oldham and Cambridge – games that all ended in a draw – were fair.

But the wheels have somewhat fallen off in the past week, defeats to Crewe and Cheltenham were certainly not written in the script.

Consequently, there are some miserable stats to report. It’s Town’s lowest league finish since the 1983-84 season – a season where clubs including Southampton, Nottingham Forest and Queen’s Park Rangers qualified for the UEFA Cup.

Perhaps more depressingly, Sheffield United – a team Town defeated in the League One play-off semi-final just four seasons ago – had their promotion to the Premier League confirmed after beating Ipswich Town 2-0 at Bramall Lane on Saturday. How times change.

So what is in it for Notts County at home? Going on Wellens’ post-match comments from Cheltenham, it appears the Town boss will turn to the club’s youth team players – of which four have been offered professional contracts for next season.

On balance that might seem a bright idea, but it’s open to debate. The under 18s face Oxford United at Abingdon FC on Saturday (11am) in their concluding Merit League fixture of the season – a game that is likely to secure them the title should they defeat their bitter rivals.

To put it bluntly, it’s been a season of complete contrast for Town’s youngsters, compared to the first-team professionals.

Wellens made four changes for Saturday’s trip to Gloucestershire - in came Matt Taylor, Canice Carroll, Jak McCourt and Kaiyne Woolery.

For a game that offered plenty in the second part of the first half, both teams appeared to already be ‘on the beach’ in the game’s opening 20 minutes.

Canice Carroll was almost left red-faced with 19 minutes played. The Brentford loanee’s defensive header ricocheted off the back of Cheltenham’s Kevin Dawson.

Unnecessarily rushed, the Cheltenham’s midfielder bizarrely crossed the ball – which unsurprisingly went out of play under the watchful eye of Luke McCormick.

Speaking of red faces, none was more so than Luke Woolfenden – as he had only himself to blame when embarrassingly turning the ball into his own net from Sean Long’s cross with 26 minutes played.

That phase of play epitomised the following 11 minutes of play for Richie Wellens’ side.

Conor Thomas – the victim of boos and jeers from the travelling fans after having troubled with a wind-impacted corner flag – could smugly smile at the Swindon faithful after his delivery from the left was hit home from close range by Billy Waters, doubling Cheltenham’s lead with half-an-hour played.

Seven minutes passed, and Cheltenham struck their third. It was another preventable goal, but that has become something of the norm in recent weeks.

Woeful marking gifted Kevin Dawson a ‘free-hit’ inside the six-yard box – and he needed no second invitation to add Cheltenham’s third.

It was a lifeless opening half that prompted boss Wellens to make two half-time changes.

On came Keshi Anderson for Kyle Knoyle, while Olly Lancashire replaced Kaiyne Woolery.

Changes prompted little change initially – Lancashire and Conroy comically clashing in defence before Anderson’s strike on 49 minutes dribbled wide of Flinders’ left post.

The hour mark ticked by, and still no reason to be cheerful for the travelling fan.

A Matt Taylor free-kick with 62 minutes played even found its way into the back row of the Hazlewoods Stand – which became increasingly silent and sparse as the minutes passed.

Cheltenham carved out their first opportunity of the half five minutes later. Varney’s decision to square the ball into the path of Dawson almost paid off, but the midfielder’s effort fizzed wide of McCormick’s far post.

Dawson and Pring were unlucky not to burst McCormick’s net for a fourth time, as Swindon nursed their way through the concluding 20.

But then came the fightback. Firstly, Theo Robinson struck past Flinders’ right reach – his somewhat tame celebration had nothing on Marc Richards’ joy in the 89th minute when he brought Swindon within a goal of the hosts.

Four minutes of injury time were signalled – not enough time for Swindon to complete their late fightback.

That’s now six games without a win for Town – with only four points secured in that period.