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MATCH REPORT: Swindon Town (0) v (1) Northampton Town
SWINDON TOWN watched their unbeaten start to the season come to an end as Northampton Town took all three points away from the County Ground in a game that was marred by poor refereeing decisions. Total Sport Swindon’s Ryan Walker gives his match report following the action.
Andy Williams’ 67th minute goal proved to be the difference on a frustrating evening for Richie Wellens as Swindon succumbed to their first defeat of the season in difficult circumstances.
A promising start from the hosts saw Swindon Town enjoy the majority of possession in the games opening stages with both Lloyd Isgrove and Kaiyne Woolery each finding space down both wings well.
However, despite Swindon being the better side in the early exchanges, the Robins looked nervous at the back with some risky passing causing a few worried gasps from the STFC faithful in attendance.
A lapse in concentration in the 4th minute saw Mathieu Baudry booked for the home side after hacking down Northampton’s Andy Williams following a poor pass that saw the Frenchman needlessly concede possession.
Before team captain Dion Conroy was deemed to have fouled Nicky Adams on the edge of Swindon’s box just moments later.
The visitors failed to make the most of their set-piece chances, and it was Swindon who managed to register the games first attempt in the 14th minute as Isgrove’s long-range effort briefly had the Cobblers worried before sailing high and wide out of sight.
With Keshi Anderson sidelined with injury, Swindon looked short of a connection between midfield and attack as new signing Eoin Doyle was often forced to drop deep to get the ball. But a change in intensity from the hosts late in the first half saw Town threaten more as Northampton sat deep.
New signing Doyle got his first sight on goal in the 26th minute after hitting a dropping ball first time that deflected for a corner as Woolery’s sprint down the left-wing just minutes later created havoc amongst the Northampton backline but to no avail.
Northampton manager Keith Curle stated in his pre-match interview that his players needed to try harder in their on-pitch performances, and judging by the showing from his players in the first half, the travelling manager had a valid point.
Trying to beat Swindon at their own game saw Northampton stretched and pulled across the pitch as the half progressed, with Swindon using their pace on the counter-attack to find pockets in behind and the Northampton players looking lethargic and sloppy on the ball in contrast to their opposition teammates.
Zeki Fryers grew into the game as the minutes ticked by with his overlapping runs creating gaps at the back for the Cobblers, only for the 26-year-old to too often be let down by his final ball. Captain Conroy threatened to break the deadlock in the 38th minute with his header from the centre of the Northampton box looking to be heading for the corner only for the away side to clear behind at the last moment.
Northampton threatened in the closing minutes of the first half as Jordan Turnbull caught Adam May sleeping, stealing possession on the edge of Town’s box only to put his shot wide of McCormick’s post.
The game broke for halftime not long after as Swindon left the pitch frustrated at not being in front but glad to not be behind.
Play resumed and Swindon returned to the ways of the first half, attacking relentlessly as the visitors sat deep to defend.
Two corners in quick succession put the visitors on the ropes with some questionable defending eventually cancelling out the initial danger created by Swindon. Town continued to press high up the pitch and Jordan Lyden looked certain to have given Swindon the lead with his header in the 55th minute forcing a picturesque diving save from David Cornell in between the sticks for the visitors.
The game should’ve been dead and buried as the match entered it’s final thirty minutes, with Swindon rueing their missed chances. And against the run of play, it was the away side who took the lead in the 67th minute, albeit with the goal being offside only for the assistant not to raise his flag.
Just seconds after Conroy had his attempt ruled not to have crossed the goalkeepers line, Northampton broke with a long ball over the top finding Ryan Watson who’s ball into Williams was offside but not questioned by the linesman, with Williams eventually lashing the ball past McCormick at his near post and into the roof of the net to give Northampton the lead.
Swindon pushed hard when play eventually resumed, after minutes of discussions with the referee saw the offside goal stand, and Adam May’s 78th minute shot from the centre of the box should’ve brought the game level, only for the Swindon midfielder to say his effort over the bar.
Scott Twine’s introduction into the game late in the second half signalled Wellens’ intent to push hard for an equaliser, but tedious time-wasting tactics allowed the visitors to run time down as Swindon grew ever more frustrated.
Town attacked until the final whistle but the Robins just couldn’t find a way past the Northampton keeper with the Cobblers holding on for their first win of the season with poor refereeing decisions certain to take the headlines in what was a first loss of the season for Richie Wellens and Swindon Town.