By Gerry PrewettOne win above Bristol Rovers, Swindon Town sit in 9th place on the SkyBet League One table. Rovers will see their short trip along the M4 as a chance of catching up with their West Country rivals.
The Wiltshire team have had a mixed start to the season. Beating Coventry 1-0 at home on the opening day, before going gown 3-1 at Chesterfield. A creditable 1-1 draw at Gillingham gave them their first away point, then on Saturday they maintained their 100% home record with a 1-0 victory over Port Vale.
Swindon started the better of the two teams but had it not been for stern defending from Lloyd Jones they could have gone behind. Jones made a critical tackle to block what appeared to be a certain goal from Port Vale striker JJ Hooper in the 33rd minute.
It was just two minutes into the second-half when Jamie Sendles-White played a ball down the right channel to Michael Doughty, who cut inside to find Bradley Barry, charging into the box. His right-footed shot was hammered into the roof of the net and gave Jak Alnwick between the sticks for the Potteries team no chance.
Swindon Boss Luke Williams was well pleased with the result, the best part for him? “The clean sheet, for sure. We know if we keep clean sheets regularly we have a chance to compete in this division. That’s the most pleasing thing.”
“It was not a fantastic performance. I thought we started very well - it was exactly what we wanted from the team but we lost our way and in the last 15 mins of the first half we were very poor. We certainly need to improve on that.”
“We created the best chances to score but we were not clean enough, not tidy enough, there were too many scruffy, bad decisions and turning the ball over too easily at times. We always felt we were in with a chance of winning the game.”
Speaking about Barry’s goal he said, “He's deserved that. It's been coming for a while. Darnell's come in and scored so maybe Brad feels the pressure now he's got to be involved in goalmouth action. It's great to have an extra threat from the wide area.”
Barry himself speaking after the game said, “It means everything to me. Being quite an attacking player, it is always good to get off my start. It was a great ball (from Michael Doughty), I didn’t even know he was going to pass it but it was perfect for me and the wing-backs, that’s what we want, just in behind the defence. I just want to concentrate on winning, that is the main thing.”
The arrival of fellow right-back Furlong on a season-long loan from QPR has put pressure on Barry down the right for Town, but he only sees it as a positive for both himself and the team and says there will be no ill feelings as they compete for the right wing-back berth through the season.
“It is good to have competition because it makes you think about what you need to do and makes sure you are looking after yourself and that you are fit and ready. We’re all family here, it is a good competition but we are all friends. There’s a lot more players now. Just in case someone gets a little niggle, you can put someone in who is just as good and it is very good to have that depth in the squad.”
With both the West Country clubs being regular members of the League’s lower Divisions it is no surprise that they have met a total of 94 times in the League and the record is pretty even. Town have won 43, Rovers 35 and there have been 16 draws.
They clashed for the very first time in 1891 when the Robins ran out 5-2 winners in Swindon, just 2 months later the two teams met again and fought out a 2-2 draw.
The first League meetings took place in 1920-21 season with both home teams’ winning. The biggest winning margin for Rovers was 5-0 way back in 1938-39. Rovers did have a 5-1 League Cup victory in Swindon on 27 August 1984.
Certainly the home teams don't dominate in these games and perhaps that should give Rovers hope. It's maybe a reflection of Swindon's topsy turvey existence that sees such a record.
Of the first six games played at Eastville after the War, Rovers won five and the other was a draw, Swindon's second victory at Eastville came on 7th September 1965 in front of a 15,855 crowd in a very entertaining game. A flashing 25 yard drive by Don Rogers just six minutes from the end of the game gave the points to the team from Wiltshire.
Less than a month after that 1-0 Swindon victory at Eastville in 1965 Rovers travelled up to Wiltshire but came away empty handed once more. This time the score line was 4-3. Bobby Jones and Harold Jarman gave Rovers an early lead, but Eric Weaver and Roger Smart equalised before half-time.
Harold Jarman restored Rovers lead on 49 minutes Then Denis Brown and Roger Smart struck within a two minute spell to put Swindon in front for the first time. Rovers pushed up desperately looking for an equaliser but Swindon defended well and took both points (only 2 for a win then!).
Rovers gained their revenge just over a year later with a decisive 3-0 victory with goals by Doug Hillard, Harold Jarman and Ian Hamilton. In more recent times the Robins have found the back of the Rovers net rather an inviting target. They have scored 4 goals four times in the last 12 visits with two 4-1 wins and two 4-3 victories.
A League Cup tie on 27th August 1984 saw Brian Williams, Paul Randall (2) and David Williams (2) give Rovers their best ever win in Swindon with a 5-1 score-line. It was some sort of revenge for a 5-2 thrashing two seasons before in a League game!
At the County Ground Rovers last victory was a 4-0 victory on 6 March 2010 Jo Kuffour Paul Heffernnan, Chris Lines and Jeff Hughes were all on the scoresheet for the Gas. On 13 October 1990 goals by Tony Pounder and Ian Holloway gave the newly promoted Gas a 2-0 win.
Town Chairman Lee Power says he is unsure at this stage whether he will let any of Swindon Town’s fringe players out on loan before the transfer window shuts next week.
The Robins brought in five players to help bolster a paper-thin squad. At the same time he is looking to loan out some of the younger players, “I think we will look at it next week to see what happens.
"One minute you are full strength and the next, you lose four and you are struggling again. That is just the nature of this league.
“I think the way the loan system has changed; it has made you carry an extra three or four players because obviously, you can’t bring anyone else in after this window closes until January. We’ll probably keep more meat on the bone than shave it off and have one less.”