I was looking forward to it, a massive game for both sides and one which I believed (although there’s still a long way to go) that if we won we would go on and win the league (again).
After finishing my day at uni, it was a quick one and a bit hours “up” to Wiltshire from Southampton, 66 miles in fact.
If you are reading this and have never gone to Swindon Town FC then you won't have encountered the famous "Magic Roundabout". Its a little hectic and I doubt you would want to partake in driving lessons around that area!
|HECTIC: The Magic Roundabout, Swindon|
After quickly popping into the local Tesco’s, just a stone’s throw away from The County Ground we entered their “Away Supporters Bar”, grabbed a drink, bought match ticket met up with my Dad and got in there.
Now, Swindon away brings back good memories for me. It is up there in my top 5 Crawley Town moments after Ben Smith’s 119th minute equaliser in the FA Cup replay at their place in an enthralling 3-2 win to us. We were undefeated there; played 1, won 1!
|GREAT MOMENT!: Ben Smith's winner last season|
After how much I was bigging us up to my Sports Journo mates and how we were going to “Do ‘em”, surely the lads couldn't let me down?
A surprise move from boss Steve Evans was putting Michel Kuipers in goal in place of Scott Shearer. Why? I’m not sure. Other than that it was the same side as normal with the diamond midfield in between the two up top and the back four.
Anyway, the game started of brightly for us, straight from the off, Billy Clarke, who had the pleasure of me watching him for the first time played a neat ball to the overlapping Dean Howell; the marauding left back’s cross-cum-shot looked like it lacked power and was just going out for a goal kick but clipped the bar. Unfortunately, no other player in a white shirt (Away colours) was there to tap in.
A less than convincing next ten minutes occurred before a bit of controversy erupted when Billy Bodin ran at Claude Davis, the defender clipped Bodin in the Swindon half – However this didn’t stop around eight of the Swindon side surrounding the referee baying for a red card. Fortunately the official rose above the poor sportsmanship and only deemed the foul a yellow.
|SPORTSMANSHIP?: Not from Swindon|
Swindon soon thought they had broke the deadlock when, after a spot of pinball in the Crawley box the ball fell to Paul Benson who flicked the ball past Kuipers and into the net, but, as the former Charlton Athletic frontman was off wildly celebrating he didn’t notice the assistant referee’s flag.
|OFFSIDE: Benson didn't notice the raised flag|
It wasn’t long after though, when the Robins did get the breakthrough. A free kick was given after captain Pablo Mills brought down the lively Paul Caddis and, I’ve got to admit I called it by saying “He’s gonna have a pop from here”. Next thing Allesandro Cibochi saw his direct effort clatter against Kuipers left hand post before falling to Luke Rooney who, left footed, fired into the corner of the net.
|OPENER: Rooney fires home for Swindon|
Crawley rallied late on in the four minutes of first half stoppage time; one of Clarke’s three successive corners was powerfully headed goal bound by Mills only to be tipped over the bar by goalkeeper Wes Foderingham.
The next chance fell to Kyle McFadzean where, after Clarke’s deep kick found the head of the giant Claude Davis who headed the ball back into the mix, McFadzean saw his header unbelievably flicked, Banks-esque around the post.
The next ball in saw home captain Paul Caddis hack clear as the referee blew for half time.
Fifteen minutes later, the teams were out and it was much of the same as Paulo Di Canio's side came out of the blocks and began to lay siege on Kuipers' goal with Rooney and Matt Ritchie having efforts before Bodin scored the second goal of the game; the former Torquay loanee saw the ball bounce up nicely before the youngster smashed a dipping volley past Kuipers for 2-0 Swindon.
Evans made the change of bringing on another striker in Karl Hawley at the same time replacing the in-affective Arsenal loanee Sanchez Watt.
Minutes after the Red Devils' boss brought on Josh Simpson for Sergio Torres Swindon grabbed their third and finished off any chance of a Crawley comeback when Benson tucked away from close range and, despite Kuipers and Co raising their hands for offside the goal was given.
|BENSON: Bagged the "clincher"|
The home side shut up shop, bringing off Rooney, to chants the same as which Manchester United fans shout at namesake Wayne and threw on the Italian Rafaelle DeVita and from this moment onwards, apart from a late Davis header missing Foderingham's goal post by inches that was that and the away fans were contemplating a gloomy trip back to Sussex or, in my case Hampshire.
To sum the game up in one word was "Disappointing". A few in the car on the way back were banging on how good Swindon were, I disagreed saying that we were absolute... and that they didn't really stand out. I just felt that our players had their minds focussed on the Stoke game on Sunday and a few were ducking out of challenges with the big FA Cup game looming in their minds. We were second to every ball but this blog isn't a way for me to rant and let off steam so I'll finish now.
Photos courtesy of www.swindontownfc.com and www.crawleytownfc.com