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MATCH REPORT: Swindon Town (2) v (1) Forest Green Rovers
Swindon Town maintained their push for the playoffs as goals from Louie Barry and Jack Payne was enough for 10-man Town to hold on despite Josh March’s second-half strike reducing the deficit. Total Sport Swindon’s Ryan Walker gives his match report following the local encounter.
An action-packed start to proceedings saw both Swindon and Forest Green threaten in front of goal as three corners in the opening ten minutes highlighted the attacking intent from each side.
Jonny Williams’ free-kick almost found the head of a Swindon player whilst Jack Aitchison had his shot inside the box blocked at the last minute by Mathieu Baudry.
Moore-Taylor rose highest inside the Swindon box to connect with Nicholas Cadden’s free-kick delivery but could only watch on as his guided header came back off the post.
Keen to avoid another scare Swindon made sure to finish off a well-worked move in the 15th minute and take control of the tight encounter.
Top scorer Harry McKirdy demonstrated his awareness to round off a counter-attack by finding Louie Barry at the back-post and leave the 18 -year-old with a simple tap-in to give the hosts the lead.
Having rallied Swindon fans before the game to create a cauldron of noise inside the County Ground, the hosts had given their supporters something to shout about with just a third goal inside the opening 15 minutes this season.
The league leaders looked a shadow of the team that had seen them arrive in Swindon already promoted as they struggled to respond with any impetus.
Bailly Cargill forced an instinctive save from Lewis Ward in the 33rd minute as his dipping effort from range hit the keeper in the chest with that Rovers’ only notable effort since the early exchanges.
Swindon had take their foot off the attacking pedal but rallied five minutes before half-time to double their advantage through a Jack Payne strike from the edge of the box.
McKirdy should have been awarded a penalty in the build-up to the goal after being shoved to the ground by Godwin-Malife, but a quick move resulted in a goal moments later.
Barry’s cross from what appeared to be an offside position was left by McKirdy, finding Payne at the edge of the box who took a touch before finishing into the bottom corner and put his side firmly in control as half-time arrived.
Forest Green attempted to break Swindon’s flow as the second-half got underway and succeeded in doing so with their intensity both on and off the ball halting the hosts momentum.
Town’s task of holding onto a two-nil lead against the league’s highest-scoring team was made harder in the 52nd minute as Ellis Iandolo was shown red for a second yellow card for a rash challenge near the halfway line.
Rovers’ Josh March was then lucky not to recieve red card for coming through the back of McKirdy just ten minutes later.
Swindon had done their best to starve Rovers’ of attempts on goal, however Rob Edwards’ side eventually broke the deadlock in the 69th minute.
Lewis Ward initially did well to save Adams’ shot but only palming the ball into the path of March who snuck his shot into the net and reduce Town’s lead.
Defensive frailties have been evident for all Swindon fans to see this season, and with over 20 minutes left to play against the league's top-scoring team, those frailties should have been exploited.
An on-pitch reorganisation saw Ben Garner introduce Akin Odimayo, Ben Gladwin, and Jake O’Brien to add defensive reinforcement as Forest Green made a host of attacking changes in comparison.
A late barrage of attacks saw countless balls into Swindon’s box test the resolve of the hosts’ defence, but Swindon held on through a nervy conclusion to claim a 2-1 victory and keep themselves in the playoff race.
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