MATCH REPORT | Harrogate Town 1-1 Swindon Town
Swindon travelled to Harrogate hoping to end their terrible run of form.
Could they find a vital three points at Harrogate, a team who have struggled at home? Michael Flynn's men needed a win to turn around their five losses in a row.
Swindon got the game underway and needed a bright start to get control away from home. The game started with both teams looking sloppy and not getting time on the ball. Jake Young had an early effort with a volley from over 30 yards out that nearly cleared the stadium.
Young had started strongly and in the eighth minute, he created himself a big chance. The forward took on a Harrogate defender before sending a shot just wide of the post.
Harrogate's first chance of the game came from Samuel Folarin who had been given free reign around the Swindon area, he set through Abraham Odoh who was stopped by the rushing Murphy Mahoney who cleared the ball away.
The opening fifteen minutes had been very back and forth, Swindon had a couple of chances from successive corners with Young and Charlie Austin having successive efforts. But Harrogate looked dangerous on the counter and had nearly caught Swindon a couple of times.
Harrogate should have opened the scoring in the 22nd minute, Folarin had the gaping goal in front of him but somehow Mahoney got across to deny him. That save would prove crucial just minutes later.
Young had been a huge presence in the Swindon attack and this time Dan Kemp found him striding towards the Harrogate goal. When he saw nobody around him, the forward unleashed a strike from 25 yards out that flew into the top corner giving Swindon a vital 1-0 lead.
Following the goal, Harrogate followed the trend of recent teams who have gone behind against Swindon, to then outplay them. The hosts began creating dangerous chances and looking far more dangerous in attack.
Mahoney was earning his wage this weekend as once again Folarin threatened his goal, Jack Muldoon set the forward through with plenty of space. But Mahoney was able to close him out and made a good save down to his right to keep the game at 1-0.
Swindon were not controlling the game despite having the lead and Harrogate were finding all sorts of joy behind the Swindon back line, Mahoney was keeping the score as it was but sooner or later a goal was coming for the hosts.
Halftime was approaching and neither side's game plan was really working, Swindon were wide open at the back and they couldn’t just keep hoping for Mahoney to save them but Harrogate were wasting chance after chance.
The hosts were not able to control the ball as Swindon were looking to go long to Austin and Young every time and negating their midfield.
The first half came to an end with Swindon leading, but not looking comfortable and needing a major improvement on their recent showings in the second half to walk away with the three points.
Harrogate got the second half underway and Swindon needed a big half to turn around their recent form in the second halves of games. The start to the second half did not inspire much confidence that this game would be any different, Town looked like they were lacking the energy shown in the first half.
With 54 minutes gone, Swindon still looked lethargic and on the back foot, luckily Harrogate were struggling to do much of anything with the spell of dominance they were enjoying. Swindon's first chance of the second half came from a corner with Austin, drawing a good save from Jonathon Mitchell.
The terrible start was punished eventually, after Harrogate created chance after chance they finally found an equaliser in the 66th minute. The ball was worked around the Swindon area before Muldoon curled home from the edge of the box. Swindon's second-half pain continued and the game was level at 1-1.
Seventy minutes had gone and there looked to be only one side with the legs to win the game, Harrogate had been all over Swindon since the second half began, and the visitors had nothing to respond with.
Swindon’s first change showed a lack of depth available when the cards were down, Flynn had to take off Austin for centre-half Tom Brewitt as they tried desperately to hold onto a draw.
Williams Kokolo came close to finding his first goal for Swindon, Kemp managed to pick out the wing-back who turned and looked to shoot, but Kayne Ramsay was on hand to block his effort.
Saidou Kahn followed up his effort with one of his own when the ball fell to him in the Harrogate area, his volley went into the side netting but Swindon looked to be putting on a positive display in the final moments.
Mahoney had been by far Swindon’s stand-out player and he once again saved his team. Folarin got away from the Swindon back line following a quick throw in and in a one-on-one with Mahoney, the keeper denied him again.
Young had the ball in the back of the net in the 87th minute but his backheel finish was ruled out for a foul on the keeper. The decision was contentious as the keeper was completely wrong-sided and if anything impeded Young.
The game came to a close with Swindon once again throwing away a lead they held at half-time.
By no means a classic, but Swindon did enough to end their five-game losing streak, Jake Young and Murphy Mahoney did their jobs but were let down by those around them. Swindon go six League Two games without a win and continued their descent down the league.
With no depth on the bench, it will always make the second half harder to defend, but the amount of goals conceded in the second half alone now rises to 21.
Swindon’s next game is Exeter in the EFL Trophy before they take on high-flying Mansfield in the league.