Swindon Town have been flushed for goals through their great attacking play this season, but it is part of their defence that has proved to be a key offensive weapon.

As Jurgen Klopp famously said on Sky Sports’ Monday Night Football in 2016, “No playmaker in the world can be as good as a good counter-pressing situation" and this has certainly proved to be true at the County Ground this season.

Michael Flynn has implemented a predominantly man-marking-orientated defensive structure with Swindon this season, as they look to aggressively win the ball back from the front.

This tactic has caused a few issues at the back when teams have been able to break quickly, but it is largely working to unsettle teams on the ball, helping Town to have the second-highest average possession in League Two.

Swindon Advertiser: Swindon have been one of League Two's best pressing teamsSwindon have been one of League Two's best pressing teams (Image: Newsquest)

Swindon have the league’s seventh-highest PPDA, a stat measuring the intensity of a team’s press through the number of passes made by the opposition divided by the number of defensive actions made by the out-of-possession team, showing that they are winning the ball back effectively and aggressively.

The important part of this is not just how effective Swindon have been at winning the ball back, it is what they have been able to do after that.

Town have been ruthless when they win the ball back high up the field, with almost a quarter of these situations turning into a shot on goal and the ball has ended up in the back of the opposition’s net on three occasions.

Only Wimbledon (four) have scored more after regaining possession in the fourth tier, but they have had nearly double the number of high turnovers (83 as opposed to 46).

So far this season, Swindon have scored every 15.3 high turnovers, a rate only bettered by Sunderland (15) in England’s top four divisions. Given that Swindon have been able to win the ball back high up the field rather often, it shows how many goals this could create over the course of the whole season.

The best example of this is Jake Young’s second goal against Crawley Town as Corey Addai looked to play out from the back but discovered very quickly how dangerous this can be.

Swindon Advertiser: Town are in their preferred defensive shapeTown are in their preferred defensive shape (Image: Swindon Town, YouTube)

Will Wright receives the pass from his goalkeeper and looks up to try and play forward, but with Swindon already set his options are limited. 

With Charlie Austin and Young marking his defensive partners and only Liam Kelly in space, he can either play the ball to his central midfielder, who is already being closed down by Dan Kemp, or play long and risk giving the ball back to Swindon.

Swindon Advertiser: Dan Kemp works very hard to win the ball backDan Kemp works very hard to win the ball back (Image: Swindon Town, YouTube)

But Kemp charges in and springs the trap, robbing Kelly of possession before he can even take a touch and immediately turns towards goal.

Swindon Advertiser: Swindon have a man advantage after winning the ball backSwindon have a man advantage after winning the ball back (Image: Swindon Town, YouTube)

With Swindon playing man-to-man and one defender already out of the game, Swindon find themselves with a numerical advantage, allowing Kemp to find Young, who shows great composure to curl the ball into the corner of the net with the outside of his right boot.

The whole attack takes just 6.34 seconds from Kemp winning the ball back to the ball being in the back of the net. That goal was even a bit sluggish as Jake Cain's goal against Sutton United came 3.04 seconds after winning the ball back and Rushian Hepburn-Murphy's against Walsall took just 3.55 seconds.

By playing one-on-one all over the pitch, Flynn has manufactured situations where if Swindon can catch teams out high up, then they have an excellent opportunity to score every time.

If every player does their job then a team either has to be very precise in build-up or look to play longer, which will often give Swindon the ball right back and allow them to put together the more patient attacks which they have also proved very strong at.

It is a risk as it requires every player to be on it at all times, but this squad has so far shown their team spirit and desire to win the ball back, and the rewards have been plain to see.

Last year was about “funnel pressing” as Jody Morris’ side looked to use the front three to move a player down a cul-de-sac, but it would be more apt to liken Flynn’s side to hyenas, hunting in packs and wearing down their prey until they make a mistake.