SWINDON Town kicked off their 2022-23 League Two campaign with a sobering 3-0 defeat away at Harrogate Town on Saturday.

Scott Lindsey’s first competitive game in charge was not one to remember – his new-look team struggled to compete with a side which was tipped to hover at the wrong end of the table this term.

A dismal afternoon at the Envirovent Stadium saw goals from Alex Pattison, Matty Daly, and Jack Muldoon – coupled with a missed penalty from Ben Gladwin – consign Swindon to a first opening-day defeat since 2013 and send them down to 23rd place in League Two.

Swindon’s head coach made one change from the side which started Swindon's final pre-season friendly against Cardiff City last weekend. Cian Harries – who struggled against the Championship side – dropped to the bench in favour of Mathieu Baudry.

Neither side created much inside the opening 10 minutes, and only a yellow card for Harrogate captain Warren Burrell drew a reaction from either set of supporters.

Swindon almost opened the scoring in the 12th minute when Ben Gladwin whipped in a delightful first-time cross from the right which Tomi Adeloye almost reached with his head. The ball broke for Harry McKirdy, but a recovering challenge poked it away with the striker ready to volley home.

Midway through the first half, Harrogate should have been presented with the chance to open the scoring from the spot. Angus MacDonald and Remeao Hutton cut across Pattison and brought him down inside the area, but the referee emphatically waved away the penalty claims.

McKirdy threatened to cause a couple of moments of joy for Swindon as the first half wore on, but his off-target volley and mazy run failed to produce a goal.

And after Louis Reed almost scored a comical own goal when trying to find his goalkeeper with a back-pass, Harrogate took the lead just before half-time.

Sol Brynn made a strong low save which forced a corner that was only half-cleared, and as Adeloye challenged the second ball, he only succeeded in knocking it down to Pattison.

Harrogate's winger – who should have won a penalty earlier in the game – reacted quickest to volley in off the bar and nudge his team ahead.

Baudry could – and arguably should – have pulled the visitors level five minutes after the break when meeting a driven Reed corner at the back post, but he fired wide with his head from just inside the six-yard box.

Second later, and that missed chance came back to haunt the visitors as Harrogate doubled their advantage.

A flicked ball on broke for Daly, and he simply took a touch out of his feet before firing into the top corner via the crossbar with his right.

Midway through the second half, Swindon were handed a lifeline back into the game when substitute Jacob Wakeling caught George Thomson dithering with the ball inside his own area.

One lazy swing of the leg from Thomson later, and referee Tom Reeves was pointing to the spot. Unfortunately for Swindon, Gladwin’s penalty was dragged against the left post via a touch by Peter Jameson, and the score remained 2-0 to the hosts.

But with 15 minutes to play, the North Yorkshire side sealed the result with a third goal courtesy of a totally avoidable mistake from Brynn.

Harrogate slipped a through-ball between Swindon's chaotic back-line, and Brynn came sliding out to collect but completely missed the ball and allowed substitute Muldoon to tap into an unguarded net.

Substitute Saidou Khan made a noticeable impact for Lindsey’s men, and he almost assisted McKirdy inside the final 10 minutes. A clipped cross allowed McKirdy to volley at goal with his left, but the strike was not taken with enough venom and Jameson collected down low.

The Sulphurites produced a couple more half-chances to run salt into Swindon’s wounds, but neither Luke Armstrong nor Jaheim Headley could capitalise on mistakes in the Robins’ defence prior to the full-time whistle.

HTFC starting XI: Jameson, Welch-Hayes, Mattock, Burrell, Thomson, Headley, Pattison, Austerfield, Dooley, Daly, Armstrong.

SUBS: Oxley, Richards, Muldoon, Frost, Ferguson, Horbury, Ilesanmi.

STFC starting XI: Brynn, Brennan, Baudry, MacDonald (C), Hutton, Shade, Gladwin, Reed, Williams, Adeloye, McKirdy.

SUBS: Ward, Aguiar, Khan, Darcy, Clayton, Harries, Wakeling.