Match report posted by Richard (view the full thread on the forum )
Debutant Elliot Benyon scored a 92nd minute equaliser to preserve the Town's unbeaten record against Rochdale, papering over some huge cracks in the process. Today's second half was as bad a performance as I have witnessed in a long time - the windy conditions undoubtedly contributing to an awful game of football.
Wilson again made changes - bringing Benyon in up front as expected, but springing surprises with Matt Ritchie being the man to drop down to the bench, and with the inclusion of Aden Flint at the back at the expense of Scott Cuthbert. Michael Rose also returned to the side, in place of Alan Sheehan at left back.
With the wind at their backs in the first half, Swindon started on the front foot - Douglas and O'Brien both shooting powerful efforts over the bar when perhaps they should have got them on target, Flint also saw a strong headed effort go over from a Town corner, and Caddis cut inside to hit a left-footed shot straight at Fon Williams. The best opportunity fell to Benyon though, who failed to connect with a ball played across the face of goal - seemingly going under his right foot as he poked it at goal.
It was Rochdale who came closer to scoring though, with the first really well-worked move of the game. Breaking away, Jones spread the ball out to the right wing, where a cross came into the front post - Will Atkinson's glancing header went across the face of the goal, landing on the top of the net on the far side. It was a nice little move, and the away side were unlucky not to have opened the scoring. It also sparked a little flurry from Rochdale, who had a number of mostly longer range efforts that didn't trouble the goal, and one from Jones that would have done, were it not for a deflection by Flint. We were also perhaps a bit lucky not to have conceded a penalty, when one shot was blocked by Douglas' hand - it would have been a bit harsh as the ball struck him from close range, but with his arms in front of him (though not that high), I've seen them given.
At the other end, on the stroke of half-time, Paul Caddis very almost gave Swindon the lead. The ball sitting up for him from an angle in the area, he played a looping ball aimed at the far post, which would have dipped in were it not for a fine diving save from Fon Williams, who managed to divert Caddis' effort onto the bar.
The second half was abysmal. In the blowing wind, neither side was able to string passes together, long balls forward were often rendered aimless by the gale. With the wind now facing them, it was Swindon who looked like they could be the first to crack - and unfortunately it was debutant Flint who was looking the most exposed. Overall, I didn't think he had a bad game, he looked good in the air, but very raw on the deck - and he made a couple of glaring errors in the second half that could have cost us - one particularly wayward pass that led to a three-on-three counter attack that came to nothing - but on another occasion was almost catastrophic - Flint leaving the ball on the edge of the box for Smith, despite the Town keeper being nowhere near it, allowing O'Grady to nip in and steal the ball. The Rochdale striker seemed to panic when faced with an empty net from an acute angle though, and thankfully he screwed it wide. Smith had also been beaten to a ball into the area earlier on the other side of the pitch - for this one, O'Grady tried to lift the ball over the Town keeper - can't remember if Smith got a hand to it or not, but it went wide.
Both managers made (strange?!) substitutions to try and change things, nothing worked. With ten minutes to go, Swindon finally created their first chance of the half, and jeez.... we really should have scored. I don't really have any idea what happened - Ritchie cut inside with a bouncing ball from the left, and I really thought he should have smacked it first time - instead it looked like he tried to chip it over a defender who was running alongside him, and then dive to head at goal. God knows what happened then, but it didn't go in, and McGovern followed up from a few yards out - and that somehow didn't go in either.
A minute later, we were made to pay at the other end. After conceding a free-kick just inside our own half, the wind just started to blow the ball away as the defender stepped up to take it, causing him to shank it low into the area rather than playing a high ball in. A Rochdale forward chased and went to back-heel it, I'm not sure where he intended it to go, but I can't imagine he was attempting the looped ball into the air that came of it - said ball then dropped right into the heart of the Town's penalty box, where it bounced, allowing Craig Dawson to place it into the bottom of the net. The goal prompted a section of support in the Town End to start calling for the head of Danny Wilson - the first time I have heard it.
It was impossible to see where an equaliser was coming from - but amazingly it came, two minutes into injury time. A throw from the Town's left side found Prutton, who hooked the ball to the back post - Benyon was in the right place at the right time, but fitting with the rest of the day, rather than gracefully heading home, he seemed to connect with his shoulder or something..... I wasn't even sure if it was a defender who got the final touch.... who cares, it went in.
Too many players had off days today - Dossevi tried hard but is still getting caught offside far too much and his passing today was atrocious; Benyon in truth did not have a good debut, admittedly he wasn't helped by poor service or the conditions, but he got owned by the bigger Rochdale defenders and wasn't strong enough to hold them off; I'm not convinced by Caddis - to me he seems to regularly make the wrong decisions when on the ball; Douglas and Timlin both didn't play particularly well; Flint looks a bit too raw to me to be risking in what is now undoubtedly a relegation battle; Rose was utterly awful. For me, I still think that Amankwaah and McGovern should be starting on that right side - they linked together so well at times last season, and I thought we started to see a bit of that again last week, but certain players who performed last season don't seem to be getting chance enough this season - the side is getting chopped and changed too much for my liking. I appreciate that our defensive record is particularly poor this season, but changing two or three defenders every single week is surely not going to help matters.
Granted, the conditions have not helped, but this was the first time today I have thought about relegation being a possibility this season.