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A brief Swindon report

As your editor is pissing off to the United States tomorrow for close to three weeks, it really is going to be brief…

STTA did the honours here. By the sound of the game, medals have been awarded for less.

Back-to-back wins for the Dons and a struggling Swindon side heading to fortress Kingsmeadow – what could possibly go wrong?

There was that nagging doubt of course but I wasn’t as worried this time. We seem to have found our feet in recent weeks and we’re no longer in the business of gifting 3 points to our visitors, if they wanted the spoils they’d need to earn them.

Swindon were decent, they passed the ball around well and looked dangerous down both flanks. I thought they had the better of the first half but we should still have gone in ahead.

From my vantage point down the other end (150 yards away looking into bright sunshine) it looked a stonewall penalty. Others closer to the action disagreed.

And I felt uneasy waiting for the spot kick to be taken, I’ve no idea what our record is but it seems we barely convert 1 in 2 from 12 yards out.

It wasn’t a bad penalty so no point having a dig at Taylor, with hindsight maybe leaving it to the man who successfully converted our last one vs Gills would have been a better idea.

The second half had a feeling of two sides cancelling each other out, neither wanting to lose the game or having that little bit of quality to go on and win it. Swindon had a couple of half chances but nothing that threatened our net.

Down the other end it wouldn’t drop for us in the box and when we finally got in behind them the linesman’s flag brought an end to our most promising move.

Fortunately we were only subjected to a total of 94 minutes before the ref brought an end to proceedings. This was not only one to forget it’s one that I could barely remember walking to the car.


Plus points: Our unbeaten run stretches to 6 games. We look well organized, particularly at the back. We know 4-3-3 (to 4-5-1) is our best formation.

Minus points: Missing the penalty.

The referee’s a…: bit card happy. To be fair to him both sides (particularly us) knew when to take a card and he duly obliged. I think Robbo got a final warning 2nd half which was good reffing, we don’t need to lose him for any more than the one game suspension his accumulated yellows will shortly deliver.

Them: allegedly ravaged by injury but I wonder if that did them a favour, it sometimes does when your out-of-form players have a week or two off.

What was left looked a young team, decent in possession and uninhibited in their attacking play. They had little threat up front but – unlike the opposition at The Ricoh a week or two back – I didn’t see a side heading for relegation.

Anything else?: I’m going to mention Lyle Taylor here. I was in favour of him being dropped when it happened, quite simply he didn’t deserve a place in the team. But I have to say I’m seriously impressed with how Lyle’s dealt with that.

Bear in mind Scunthorpe found him difficult, moody and impossible to manage. Neal has him working his nuts off for the team and often playing out of position on the right wing.

This probably says as much about Neal as it does about Lyle but credit to both, it’s a situation that could easily have gone the other way.

What next?: Gigg Lane on Tuesday night and I’m expecting to witness our toughest test since Sheffield United came visiting. This is going to be a cold unwelcoming environment, a small following and opposition who will be desperate to put an end to three defeats on the spin.

Neal will keep talking about getting to 50 points but if we’re heading back down the M6 with our unbeaten run intact we can genuinely start thinking about a little more than just staying up.

To be honest, this sounded a bit predictable – plenty of cock-waving after beating Oxford and going above Franchise, and a sense that we’ll overcome Swindon quite easily.

Or more accurately, an expectancy that we’d do so.

This being AFCW, it never works like that, and if nothing else at least it will put our feet on the ground a bit again.

If we come out of Bury and Peterborough with a couple of points, I’ll consider that a good week. Lest we forget that it was around this time of year, in our first L2 season, when it all started to plummet to the ground.

I don’t think we’re nearly as bad as we were back then, we’re going to Gigg Lane and London Road without the expectancy (that word again) that we’ll get gubbed.

True, you’d want us to put away penalties when we get given, and as the old cliche goes – I hope that doesn’t come back to haunt us later in the season.

But the league table now doesn’t look too bad. And I don’t mean who’s in 16th either, for the uber-obsessives. It’s effectively a six point gap from the drop zone, with goal difference, and we may be able to play with a bit less pressure.

So it does seem to be settling down OK. If feeling we’ve underachieved with a goal-less draw at home is what it’s going to be like this season, then great – we’ll be comfortably mid-table mediocrity.

Anyway, in matters off the field, it appears that dog racing will finally disappear from our future new home on 25th March next year.

I think it’s a not-unreasonable assumption getting made that the S106s will be signed before Xmas, and as it appears the entire site will finally get closed down on 14th April, the timelines seem to tie up.

It’s six months away, but you’ve got the doggies and the stockies to finally prise out. Don’t forget, there are other tenants on the site too, and something like demolition takes a lot longer to plan than just getting a couple of bulldozers in.

Those who remember reading the submissions before LBM approved it will know the electricity sub-station needs a month’s notice before you even put a light bulb in, so there’s plenty of that.

Not to mention tenders getting put out and approved, which aren’t exactly a five minute job. There’s a lot still to be done in that time.

So the period between now and April may drag a little bit, especially with the very-remote-but-still-possible threat of a judicial review hanging over us.

But there is finally an end in sight, and you’ll first feel it when the initial pics of WGS getting boarded up and the first signs of razing get published.

It’s only been 25 years, you can cope with another six months.

Anyway, that’s that for now from me. I’m back on the 5th November, where it’s FA Cup weekend. I’ll miss the draw tomorrow, but at least we can be the League One side that gets embarrassingly knocked out in the first round this year.

Well, I say that, but you just know we’ll get Franchise at home…