I mentioned in my preview for the Crewe match that our bench was looking strong and they certainly did the business for us when we needed it. Like almost everyone, I’d like to see Jones start this evening as whenever he got the ball on Saturday, he created a threat and he and McGeady could well cause havoc tonight. Apart from Leadbitter I don’t think we have any other injury problems but I think there’ll be one or two other changes to the starting line-up as McFadzean in particular didn’t play well against Crewe. Swindon have shipped plenty of goals, almost two per game in the league this season and having showed that it’s not just Wyke who can hit the net for us, I’m confident that we’ll get at least a couple ourselves this evening.
I happened to be dropping some books off at ALS Towers opposite the stadium at 2.00 when the Swindon coach arrived – they were certainly allowing plenty of time for preparations. I later heard they were training down the beach or maybe they were just having a paddle. I got the team news when I got to the bubble and McLaughlin was out, injured apparently, while Winchester was in for Leadbitter and Jones for O’Brien. The formation looked appetizing with Jones and McGeady flanking Wyke up front.
The first real action came in the third minute when Winchester conceded a free-kick just outside our box but Burge dived to his right to block it and then grabbed the follow-up attempt, getting a bash in the head from one of his own teammates as he did so. After that early worry we soon settled down and started to do most of the attacking, mainly down the left, but also Gooch made a great run and cross down the right. It felt like our first goal wasn’t far off. After a quarter of an hour Jones had a great jiggle in their box and produced a shot that was deflected for our first corner. Shortly afterwards Gooch turned Grounds inside out near their left corner before putting in a low cross that Wyke hit wide of the right post. Wyke put another chance over the top just afterwards and my fellow bubbler wondered whether Wyke had gone back to being shite. It was very much attack against defence as we piled the pressure on but around the half-hour mark we starred to go off the boil and we also gave away two more free-kicks in dodgy positions. We seemed to have lost our pace as the half went on and I expected Maguire on in the second period before too long. Wyke had spent too much time on the wing instead of being in the middle where he should’ve been. It remained 0-0 at the break but most of our rivals weren’t doing too well either with Lincoln and Portsmouth losing 1-0 and Accrington and Peterborough drawing.
There were no changes as we kicked off again. We conceded another free-kick in a danger area five minutes in but managed to clear though we were pushing our luck. Twelve minutes in, Gooch had a great shot on target, probably our first of the match, and we had several follow-up attempts without getting it in the net. A change was surely imminent and when Gooch went down injured, he seemed likely to go off and he was duly replaced by O’Brien. At the same time Maguire replaced Jones. We’d been scrappy so far this half but one goal would do it. We won a free-kick in a good position ourselves with around twenty minutes left and when Maguire took it, Wyke was there to glance a header into the bottom left corner to put us ahead. We almost conspired to let them score shortly afterwards but Burge made a crucial save. The clock, which had been going too quickly for my liking, now seemed to be going too slowly. We had a great chance to make it 2-0 when Wyke broke forward and he had two teammates to his left but he took a bit too long to make a pass and the chance was lost. Ten minutes to go and we were powering forward again at last. Surprisingly there’d been no cards issued yet and referee Peter Wright had handled things well...so far. Three minutes to go and it was squeaky bums time as Swindon started to pressurize us. We brought on Diamond for McGeady in the final minute and I could’ve done without four minutes of stoppage-time. Anyway, it looked like 2-0 but Maguire shot straight at Trueman in goal when he would’ve done better to pass to Diamond. Neil replaced Scowen and then Maguire was the first booking as we conceded yet another free-kick in a dangerous spot. The kick hit the bar and then went for a corner before the whistle mercifully went to ease blood-pressure all round.
This was hard work, but the result was all that mattered and we’re up to fourth spot. We’ve gained ground on Portsmouth and Lincoln, who both lost, as well as Peterborough. On the ugly side but three points is three points.