Thursday, 28th August, 1969

Swindon make it tough for the Italians


A.S. ROMA 2                SWINDON TOWN 1
Story by Clive King
Pictures by David Evans   

AMID the terrific din of fireworks, bugles and claxton horns, Swindon Town put up a terrific fight before they had to admit defeat in the first leg of their Challenge Cup match against A.S. Roma, at the Olympic Stadium in Rome last night.    Finishing only one goal in arrears the Town must be in with a great chance of becoming the first winners of the new trophy when Roma visit the County Ground for the second leg on September 10.

   As the Italians moved swiftly to the attack in the early stages, Swindon's players fell back quickly into deep defence and relied on quickly built-up breakaway raids for their answer. It was a pattern which they relied on for most of the game.


   Downsborough made a fine save when he dived and snatched the ball away from the feet of centre-forward Enzo in the seventh minute, and Roma's outside-right Peiro rapped a warning long-range shot just wide soon afterwards.
   Then in the 12th minute came an incident which brought howls of fury from the watching Italians and the air was suddenly filled with a salvo of bright, cracking rockets.
   Peiro slid a good pass through to Cappellini and, as the inside-right cut into the penalty area, he appeared to be sent full-length by a desperate tackle from Harland. Instead of the expected penalty, English referee Kevin Howley gave Swindon a free-kick.
   In one of the Town's breakaway attacks, Rogers had a fierce drive blocked by the hastily covering Italian defenders, but it was not long before Swindon were again forced back into their own half.


   Downsborough then brought off the first of three superb saves, which had even the grudging home spectators cheering.
   Cappellini gained possession of a through pass from Peiro and drove a hard ground shot wide of Downsborough. The Town goalkeeper threw himself full-length to claw the ball down.
   Within minutes, the Town goalkeeper made another thrilling save from the Roma inside-right, beating away a close-range drive, and then threw himself to his right to finger-tip a shot from inside-left Capello to safety.
   The other members of the Town defence were also playing magnificently at this stage with Butler giving superb cover to the hard-worked Burrows and Harland.
   Rogers revealed his class for the first time in the 31st minute, when he raced away from three converging Roma players in midfield, and then ghosted round Santarini to pull back a low centre.
   Smart, running through in the inside-left position, seemed partially surprised at the speed of the pass and hit his shot wide.


   Three minutes from half-time it seemed that Swindon were safely through to the second half. Then, as Salvori broke into the penalty area, he literally threw himself over the outstretched leg of Smart.
   Much to the dismay of the Town players, the referee immediately awarded a penalty from which Enzo scored.
   Within seven minutes of the restart the Town, showing their great fighting qualities, scored a well-merited equaliser. It came after a good run up the right by Thomas which ended with him being obstructed near the bye-line by Cordova.
   Smith chipped the indirect free-kick into the middle and as Smart jumped high to challenge for it the ball broke loose.
   Quick as a flash Noble moved in to edge the ball almost out of the groping hands of Ginulfi, and his shot entered the net just inside the post.


   The Town went close to taking the lead soon afterwards but Rogers just failed to control a quick through pass from Harland.
   Swindon were now full of confidence and Smith teased the Roma defence with some neat distribution.
   Roma, however, regained the lead in the 68th minute.
   Peiro broke away down the right and his pin-point centre opened up the Town defence like a tin-opener. The ball flew straight to Cappellini, who brought the hysterical home supporters to their feet with a superb header well wide of Downsborough.
   Ginulfi, the Roma goalkeeper, then made a good save to beat away a hard shot from Rogers and in the 72nd minute Smith crashed a fierce drive just over the bar after collecting a clever pass from Jones, who had replaced Horsfield.


   Swindon swarmed back to the attack and it was Roma's turn to look extremely uncomfortable under the mounting pressure.
   Ginulfi got a desperate fist to the ball to keep out a lob by Trollope, and then did well to dive and beat away a ground shot from Smart.
   When the final whistle sounded it was with Swindon still hammering the Roma defence in search of an equaliser.
AS Roma:   Ginulfi; Spinosi, Carpenetti; Salvori, Cappelli, Santarini; Perio, Cappellini, Enzo, Capello, Cordova.
Swindon Town:   Downsborough; Thomas, Trollope; Butler, Burrows, Harland; Smith, Horsfield (Jones), Smart, Noble, Rogers.
Referee:  Mr. K. Howley (Middlesbrough).
Estimated attendance:  50,000.