Back in August 2012 I agreed to write for this site. I was to be the Swindon Town correspondent as part of a site reporting on eight West Country sides.
It never worked out that way, with me being the only contributor for two months, before I realised no one else was doing anything.
So I stopped.
There has been so much to write about STFC in the ensuing months. Paolo Di Canio offered so much to write about, then left, then joined Sunderland… and all the time Town, in the top six of League One, were the story to talk about.
But despite repeatedly asking the West Country Football website editor for some sort of guidance of his view or his future of his site, I received no feedback.
It’s a shame.
If anyone was actually reading this site (and I have no reason to believe even the guy who set it up is) carry on enjoying your West Country team, and if it’s Swindon… COYR.
Many people say – “I don’t care how we play, aslong as we get 3 points”. No phrase could be more befitting of the game on Saturday against Chesterfield.
The Gas came away with 3 points, and that is the main thing, but for me the performance left a lot to be desired. When the line up was announced in the pre match build up, I discussed it with others and we all seemed to agree on what we were going to see. Joe Anyinsah called in onto the right wing, allowing Fabien Broghammer to move back on to his favoured left site, with Derek Riordan and Tom Eaves starting up top. This was not the case.
We began the game with Riordan again deployed on the left wing, and one has to wonder – WHY?! This is a man who is notorious for his potent finishing in the SPL, a ‘fox in the box’ as it were, yet we seem to be keeping him further from the opposition goal than he has been at any point in his career. McGhee will be, like us, desperate to see him score his first goal for the club, so why on earth he is being kept as far away from a goalscoring position as possible is hard to understand. Not only does this leave Riordan in a position where he offers little, but it means that Broghammer is forced to play on the right wing. As a left footed player with bags of pace, when played on the left he can fly past a full back and whip the ball in – on the right he must cut inside to use his left foot .. and time and time again this led to us losing the ball. When we have a fast right footed player in Anyinsah, who was played up front, it is hard to see why McGhee sent us out without him on the right wing, Broghammer on the left, and Riordan up top – where he can score goals.
Nevertheless, we took the lead. Tom Eaves is turning out to be a fantastic loan signing, and I for one desperately hope that we can keep hold of him after January. For a big man, he has a great turn of pace, and combined with his strength this makes him a very difficult player to handle. A solid run from him and a great drilled cross led to a Chesterfield player finishing smartly from 2 yards. They all count! After thinking I had seen a strange goal, you can imagine my reaction when our impressive goalkeeper, Neil Etheridge, walked the ball over his own line. He didn’t seem to argue his case much, but the replays show that is was very close. Without a better camera angle I think it is impossible to be sure, but he seemed confident when talking to fellow goalkeeper Sam Walker at the start of the second half, that he had kept it out.
Chesterfield then took the game to us, and found themselves unlucky to not be ahead. Etheridge made ammends on a number of occasions, before Tom Eaves once again showed his quality with another drilled cross that Joe Anyinsah could not miss. But it wasn’t long before the visitors drew level once again, and you will not see many goals better in this league this weekend. The ball dropped at the corner of our box, and though he should have been closed down faster, you can take nothing away from the finish. A beautifully struck goal, that flew into the far corner of the net – Etheridge lay dismayed.
As I stood in the Blackthorn, I was sure this was the end of us. The fans were tense and I am sure the players could feel it too. I was confident of seeing 3-2 on the scoreline for a second time this week. Turns out, I was correct. But it turned out to be a much better sight than on Tuesday night, as Tom Eaves got the goal he deserved. He had hit the post earlier in the day with a powerful curling strike, and was unlucky not to score, but this time luck was on his side as a deflection off of a defender took the ball into the bottom left of the goal, the keeper unable to reach it. 3 points went to Rovers.
In my honest opinion I do not believe we deserved to win the game, I believe a draw would have been a fair result. But the lads did enough to get the win – and that is all that matters. We will play much better this season and come away with nothing – as we already have in some games. For example, against Fleetwood we looked fantastic. We passed the ball about with great quality and to not get 3 points was hugely disappointing. I guess these things level themselves out.
The decision to play Anyinsah up top seemed to pay dividends. He had a solid game and ran his socks off – which I can’t remember saying about him in the past. Most Gasheads know that he has the talent, but he has rarely showed it in a Rovers shirt. Whether this is due to bad form or a lack of effort is unknown .. most point to the latter. If he can get himself back to his best, he can be like a new signing. Hopefully there is more to come of it.
I wrote an article at the beginning of the season highlighting Matt Gill as ‘The Invisible Man’. Matt Gill is currently out injured, but it seems he passed this trait on to Derek Riordan before leaving. The man does not do much wrong, but he also does very little right. Each time he gets the ball, I replay the many goals I have seen him score on YouTube in my mind, and every single time I am left dissapointed. I really hope we can see the real Derek Riordan soon, because if he can be at his best he can score many, many goals in this division.
Glad to go into work on the back of a win today, the weekend always seems much sweeter when The Gas have picked up 3 points. But I can’t help but feel we need to improve if we want to come away with another win any time soon.
On my way to Town’s game with Colchester United last Tuesday I found myself in an unfamiliar place.
No, not Wichelstowe, but in the unusual territory for a Town supporter of feeling quite excited about the forthcoming game.
There seemed little reason to support this feeling, other than we were on a four match winning run, playing well, creating plenty of chances and that Colchester (despite earning their first win the previous Saturday) were not pulling up any trees.
We’d overcome the potential banana skin of a hangover from beating Burnley by winning at Shrewsbury, commenced another victorious run at the County Ground and looked ready to give someone a proper caning.
In short I allowed myself the luxury of some (ultimately misplaced) optimism. Or perhaps the very complacency that I had promised myself I wouldn’t fall victim to.
I even speculated that at the end of the evening we could be in an automatic promotion spot with ten games gone.
Oh the naivety of youth.
From a 54 year old!
Town were terrible on Tuesday, never testing the opposition at all.
It was evident very early on that Colchester’s confidence was fragile, and I anticipated a quick strike would destroy it completely and open the flood gates. United’s centre back Okuonghae looked imperious in the air, but suspect on the floor. Chase him down and force an error and we’d be home and dry.
Hmm. Home and dry with the flood gates open. I should have realised the paradox there and then.
Instead United steadily imposed themselves on the game and grew in confidence, and they deserve credit for that. They saw a chance which they surely didn’t think they’d get, and took it along with the three points.
Everyone needs to see this most recent set back in perspective. All teams lose from time to time, and all unbeaten records come to an end. If football was as predictable as the pundits want us to believe, most of us wouldn’t be interested in it.
But there was criticism that Alan Navarro is constantly chosen to start ahead of favourite Simon Ferry. Fellow midfielder Gary Roberts didn’t escape scrutiny for his performance.
With right back Nathan Thompson injured (and of course Paul Caddis both at Birmingham City AND injured) left back Federico Bessone was selected at right back and looked out of place.
I was disappointed but not surprised that Raffa De Vita was sacrificed to bring on Adam Rooney. Raffa always puts in a good shift, but the strangely quite Paolo Di Canio makes him the fall guy a little too often for me. De Vita was having one of the better games on Tuesday.
And perhaps the most disappointing aspect of the whole evening was that after making significant changes to the strike force, Town still couldn’t find any penetration at all.
Of course ultimately it was the Curse of the Old Boy that struck when ex-Town left back Michael Rose curled a nice free kick inside Wes Foderingam’s right hand post to win the match.
No amount of bad feeling towards the defender warranted the abuse he received after that.
But Saturday brings another game with the trip to bottom of the table Bury. I remember once seeing us stick eight goals past them for no reply.
Come Saturday evening we could be in an automatic…
Well, yesterday I hoped that Town’s chances-to-goals ratio would become more equitable. Last night against Colchester we created none and scored none.
Mission accomplished there then.
After a sequence of three defeats on the trot, a run that horribly saw Swindon lose at Oxford United in the Johnstones Paint Pot, Paolo Di Canio’s men have now won four in a row and face Colchester United at the County Ground on Tuesday night.
Midfielder Simon Ferry scored his first goal of the season to give Town maximum points at Shrewsbury at the weekend, and the run has hoisted Town up to fourth in the League One table.
Everything at the County Ground looks rosy at the moment, with calm in the camp and confidence on the pitch.
PDC has proclaimed that he is happy with the performances and attitude of his players, and while I’d love to see us stick away a few more of the chances we produce, the chant of ‘We are Swindon, we score when we want’, rings out whenever Town decided to finally tuck one away after spurning any number of previous opportunities.
It’s almost as though we fans (and the opposition) are being toyed with, until Town feel it the right time to turn their possessional superiority into goals.
Anyone who has followed Swindon for a number of years knows that is no reason to feel complacent.
I have a feeling that PDC will have a major falling out with someone ahead of the League Cup fourth round match against Aston Villa.
I remember a story in which an angry Brian Clough demanded that all his players meet him in the changing room after training. In fear of the wrath they thought that had incurred, everyone trained like demons and filed into the room in trepidation to await the arrival of their manager.
Eventually, Cloughie entered with a newspaper under his arm, sat down and proceeded to read it from cover to cover. Fearful of the consequences, everyone stood in silence, until Clough finished his reading, tucked the paper under his arm again and walked out. Not a word was exchanged.
Is that the action of a mad man or a genius? Clough had exercised his control and demonstrated his authority, initiated a more than vigorous training session and left everyone in no doubt that he was the boss. When he said jump, they jumped.
Mad or genius? We never knew.
Draw your own conclusion as to why I reiterate this story in connection with Swindon Town.
It was good to gain a point at Carlisle on Saturday after three defeats on the trot, but Paolo Di Canio didn’t seem too pleased with the result.
‘It’s a shame to go away without the win, and also with four of five goals. For this I am not happy. We have to clean some individual’s playing mentality. This is a genuine way to be angry’.
But he refrained from launching personal criticism at his players, even commenting sympathetically that striker and ex-Yeovil Town man Andy Williams was feeling the pressure of not finding the net since his arrival in Wiltshire.
‘I don’t want to say bad words. It is the time to say be calm, strong and leave the fear somewhere else. It’s not because I am angry with him’.
A more reasoned response from the manager there then.
Many of the travelling supporters missed all four goals, held up on the long trip north by a problem on the M6.
Well done the officials for refusing to delay the kick-off to give them a greater chance of getting to the match before the start!
I remember the start of a match at the County Ground being delayed a few years back because the fourth official hadn’t arrived.
That’s the FOURTH official. Only a few years earlier we hadn’t needed one at all, and now we can’t start without him.
Two great indicators of how football’s leaders prioritise.
I noticed in the Football League Paper at the weekend that goalkeeper Stephen Bywater named Paolo Di Canio in his ‘dream team’, a line-up made up of players that Bywater had either played with or against during his career.
The Sheffield Wednesday keeper had shared the Hillsborough pitch while PDC had been there, and he was effusive in his praise, calling Town’s boss ‘Hands down the best I’ve played with. Passionate on and off the pitch, his work ethic in training was superb, the first there the last to leave’.
Bywater, on the bench behind Chris Kirkland on Saturday, finished with the statement ‘I’d happily play for him again. He’s a winner and only stands for the best’.
So I’m guessing the goalkeeper will have named his team after the bust up with Wes Foderingham at Preston then.
And perhaps will have noticed that Town don’t have another senior keeper.
And maybe fancied throwing his hat in the ring by announcing his readiness to team up with Di Canio once more.
Well it seemed pretty transparent to me.