From the outset, Swindon pressed their opponents and showed what Phil Parkinson later conceded as ‘greater desire’ than his Charlton side. After only two minutes, Jose Semedo was forced into a tricky clearance from under his own crossbar, and this set the tone for an uncomfortable night for the home defence.
Across the midfield, the Swindon players worked hard to close down the Addicks; David Prutton and Simon Ferry always controlled the middle of the park while Alan O’Brien, making his first start for some time, and Matt Ritchie were constant outlets and made life difficult for their markers with plenty of good running.
Yet it was the home side that went ahead, rather fortuitously when Johnnie Jackson’s low shot cruelly looped over Phil Smith having deflected off Sean Morrison. Several Town players chased referee Keith Woolmer back to the halfway line, their V-signs clearly indicating their disgust at his failure to spot or acknowledge two clear handballs by Paul Benson and Jackson during the build-up.
Swindon’s response showed some character, however, and they were to be rewarded during the last ten minutes of the half during a concerted spell of possession. After a quickly taken free-kick by Ritchie almost caught out Charlton keeper Rob Elliot, he was in the right place to bury Michael Timlin’s perfect cross at the second attempt.
If anything, the Robins stepped up their performance after the break and continued to quieten the Valley with their superiority in all departments. Charlton looked devoid of attacking ideas and an immense Sean Morrison, ably supported by Andy Frampton, was able to repel everything that came their way.
Swindon gained the lead following a rare mistake by Charlton’s experienced centre back Christian Dailly; unable to deal with a long but routine clearance, the Scot slipped under pressure from Charlie Austin who had time to pause and pick his spot before lashing home from 15 yards.
The Town players strangled their opponents and never looked like losing. With fifteen minutes to go, Danny Wilson brought on Scott Cuthbert to tighten things up further and his team promptly extended its lead. An innocuous foul on Simon Ferry resulted in a great centre by John-Paul McGovern for the superb Morrison, who rose way above everyone to plant his header in the back of the net; the cue for the silenced home fans to finally open their mouths and boo their own team. When an unmarked Austin headed his second, and Swindon’s fourth, minutes later, the exodus began.
Even Pawel Abbott’s beautifully hooked volley near the end could not take the gloss off a Swindon performance that was definitely reminiscent of last-season’s promotion chasing team. County Ground fans will be hoping that, after several false dawns following similar victories over top teams, Town will finally find the consistency to ascend the table.
Disclaimer: The views in this article are that of the writer and may not replicate those of the Professional Footballers' Association.
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