There was plenty of surprise amongst Swindon Town fans when Udoka Godwin-Malife lined up on the left against Tranmere Rovers, but could that switch unlock a new element of their attack?

Gavin Gunning has said on multiple occasions this season that he would ideally like to be playing with inverted fullbacks. The interim head coach wants players who can come inside and create overloads in midfield, with the width being created higher up. However, he has admitted he does not feel he has the correct players to execute this at present.

Against Tranmere, Gunning elected to drop Williams Kokolo and instead use Godwin-Malife on the left. He said after the game that this had been a plan to deal with Rob Apter that he felt had not quite worked. But the former Forest Green Rovers defender did something else very interesting that could have been the real reason behind the move.

Watching recent games, it has been clear that there has been a plan for Godwin-Malife to receive the ball out wide and then drive inside to create room for a pass.

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When building up, Swindon look to play with a defensive box of two deep-lying midfielders and the two centre-backs to draw defenders narrow and create space out wide for the two full-backs, who hug the touchlines, to make for an easy out ball.



In this example against MK Dons, Bycroft plays short to McCarthy, who, despite a sloppy touch, still gets the ball out to Godwin-Malife. He then uses his pace and power to drive inside Joe Tomlinson, who was slow to get out to him, and then tries to slip a pass into Paul Glatzel with the outside of his right boot.

There are similar examples of this exact move in all of Swindon’s recent games, but it was not particularly effective in creating chances. With Godwin-Malife playing on the right, when he cuts inside, he must either attempt a pass with his weaker left foot or the outside of his right foot, making the passes much more difficult and therefore limiting his options. Teams were struggling to cope with Godwin-Malife as he was driving infield, but he couldn’t play the killer pass.

Cut to Tuesday night and Godwin-Malife has switched to the left flank, and suddenly he came away with a fantastic assist, created two big chances, and made three key passes in the match.



The basic idea was the exact same, with space being created in full-back areas, to allow the 23-year-old to drive inside and pick his pass, which was now on his stronger foot, enabling him to execute a big part of Swindon’s strategy, which is to try and get runners in behind.

This pass is far easier and more dangerous to play as a diagonal pass going across the field than it would have been if he was attempting to play down the line to Rushian Hepburn-Murphy.

With Sean McGurk providing width higher up, Godwin-Malife could come inside onto his right foot often without making the team too narrow and this created the second goal and another big chance for Hepburn-Murphy.

“I think he did well,” said Gunning when asked whether it could be an option moving forward, “Going forward that could be something that we work on. The evolution of the team would be for both full-backs to be able to operate inside and outside the pitch. We are not there because we have the squad that I inherited but we will get there.”

Swindon might not quite be to Gunning’s end game just yet, but they began to show what that might look like.